Couple fuses molecules and traditional art motif
ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
Inspired by the Hagia Sophia mosaics, Özçelik couple uses colorful mosaic characteristics merged with the DNA coil in their artwork as well as on bags, pillows and tablecloths. AP photos
Tayfun and İclal Özçelik are not the first to think the structure of a DNA molecule with its twisting, double-helix ladder shape is artistically inspired. The Turkish couple’s art, a fusion of genome-inspiration and Turkish motifs, represents the Genome Art genre initiated by Salvador Dali.
Tayfun Özçelik is the creative mind behind the pair’s art, creating and making each piece. He previously won an award from the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK) for his work on genetics. His wife, İclal Özçelik, spent much of her career in the banking sector but now aims to introduce Genome Art to Turkey.
Inspired by the Hagia Sophia mosaics, the couple uses colorful mosaic characteristics merged with the DNA coil in their artwork as well as on bags, pillows, tablecloths and many other accessories they create.
“Each motif has a different story,” she told Anatolia news agency. The couple has found inspiration in many places, including in İznik’s glazed tiles, she said, adding that while making the work titled “Chromatin,” they derived inspiration from chromosomes. “Chromatin is the molecular surface of human chromosomes and we use this inspiration with Ottoman motifs to create a different style,” she said.
The Özçeliks’ interest in using the DNA coil in art landed their artwork on the cover of Nature Genetics, a prestigious science magazine. It was their work inspired by chromatin and Ottoman spiral motifs that captured the cover of Nature Genetics, she said.
“Another motif we have created, titled ‘Life,’ is inspired by water lilies and 16th-century İznik glazed tiles from the Ottoman period,” she said. “In this artwork we were also inspired by the RNA molecule, which is an important nucleon in genetic science.”
The S-shaped motifs in the work signify the concept of infinity as well as the water lilies.
The pioneer of Genome Art: Salvador Dali
Genome Art also signifies the relation of art and science throughout history and adds a new dimension to art, according to the duo.
“DNA molecules, which include the genetic code of all the creatures, inspired the artworks of artists. Those molecules are also used in different types of artworks and described as a form of art [themselves],” she said, adding that this new visual art genre was started by Salvador Dali.
“The works of Dali included many Genome Art figures during the second half of 1950s,” she said.
The Özçeliks first exhibited their Genome artworks at a scientific meeting held at the Mendel Museum in 2005. “Everyone was amazed by the works,” she said.
The pair also visited New York in 2005 as a guest of James Watson, the man who discovered the DNA molecule. The Metropolitan Museum in New York also took examples of some of the Özçeliks’ work to show.
In Ankara’s Development Institute, academics have applied motifs designed by the Özçeliks to tablecloths, pillows and bags. Shops in Sabancı Museum, the New York Metropolitan Museum and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories also sell accessories embellished with the pair’s work.
The couple said they would like to present their art with the support of UNICEF. In some scientific meetings the couple has presented their artworks, she said. They plan to spread this art to the international scene with the help of UNICEF.