Interview
June
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Selected works from the
38th Annual Fine Arts Exhibition
June 2012
MANAMA
CAPITAL
OF
ARAB
CULTURE
2012

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An Interview with
Whether she adorns the entrance of the World Bank Building in Washington DC or simply creates designs to hang on walls -  BELKIS BALPINAR,
an artist, an iconoclast - developed her own visual language of abstraction using ‘kilim’ structure to create artworks.
Belkis
BALPINAR
Belkis was in Bahrain last year for a solo exhibition at La Fontaine Contemporary Art Centre but we
missed the opportunity to meet with her. This interview with artbahrain took place last May during her
retrospective show at Çiragan 'Kempinsy Palace' Art Gallery in Istanbul.
Artkilim Exhibition Ciragan Kempinsky Palace Art Gallery 2 Artkilim Exhibition Ciragan Kempinsky Palace Art Gallery 1 Artkilim Exhibition  Ciragan Kempinsy Palace Exhibition 3
Firstly, could you tell us about the work exhibited in Çiragan 'Kempinsy Palace' Art Gallery?
It was a retrospective exhibition where 25 pieces representing my works since 1986 were on display.

Going through this exhibition, your use of form and color are immediately striking. Beginning   with form, can you tell us a little bit
about the swirl shape you've used repeatedly here?
Many artists try to reflect something from the chaos of the planet we live on. I try to show the motions of galaxies and planets and
particles in micro cosmos and possible extra dimensions in the universe.

And the colors are one of things that strike you on first glance. How do you pick your colors?
As a minimalist artist I try to create a strong impact with few but strong colors. These colors are obtained from natural dyes just like
antique kilims.

How do you hope viewers will engage with and respond to your work?
Like most artists, I aim for real engagement of the viewers and I would be happy, if some of my pieces displayed on their walls.

Do people want to go and touch it?
Yes they do. I don’t mind, even I like to see such personal involvement. My pieces are like antique kilims they are so durable they can
survive centuries.

Can you tell me a bit about your art making practice? How do you get started and what drives you to complete a work? Is there a
point where you know it's complete?
I use to draw by hand, now I am using the Photoshop program. I like to challenge dimensions on the flat surface. I try to find out extra
dimensions.
The moment I feel I have captured it, I immediately stop.  A good artist should know when to stop.


Do you have formal training, or are you self-taught?

I graduated in the Academy of Fine Arts of Istanbul and worked as the Curator of the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum and the
Founding Director of The Vakiflar Museum Istanbul. I also did extensive field work to thousands of kilim and carpet weaving villages in
Turkey.

Did you start out painting and evolved into arts and crafts as form of expression? Why?
No I started directly to use the ‘kilim’ structure to create artworks because of my knowledge and experience.

How do you stay motivated?
I am the first one who started to use kilim structure as an art form and I want this to continue.

What artists, if any, have inspired your work?
I was very much impressed by the artist in the first three quarter of the 20th Century. Such as Franz Kline, Joan Miro, Vassily
Kandinsky, Adolph Gotlieb…. Whenever I visit  Modern Art Museums I always feel that they knew exactly what they were doing and we
are just looking for new ways.


Has there been a particular project you found to be the highlight of your career so far?
Most of my one-of-a-kind pieces are woven for exhibitions. I also undertake site-specific and corporate art special commissions. I
was commissioned to create an art kilim for one of the entrance walls of the World Bank Building in Washington DC and I also
created a large piece for Aramco Center in Dhahran. I was excited when Miuccia Prada bought a piece from my exhibition in Milan.

What would you like to do next? In a year from now, what do you imagine yourself working on?
I would like to do an exhibition in one of the buildings of the famous architect Zaha Hadid, I think my pieces would go well with her
buildings.

Where do you live and work now?
I used live in Istanbul. Five years ago I moved my studio home to Bodrum.