Prominent artist describes controversial sculptures as ‘Turkish pop art’

Prominent artist describes controversial sculptures as ‘Turkish pop art’

Prominent artist describes controversial sculptures as ‘Turkish pop art’

A prominent Turkish artist has defended the much-debated sculptures and statues that mostly stand at the entrances of various provinces depicting things those provinces are known for, saying that they were “examples of Turkish pop art.”

“I admire them very much,” Gürkan Coşkun, also known as “Komet,” tweeted on July 27.

Coşkun, an 80-year-old painter and poet, is valued as the prominent face of Turkish contemporary art.

In recent years, many districts and provinces across the country started erecting sculptures or statues that show things or people that the region is famous for.

These “work of arts” include a huge watermelon sculpture in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, a tea glass monument in the Black Sea province of Rize, a fork and a meatball statue in the northwestern province of Bursa’s İnegöl district, a sculpture of an apple in the Black Sea province of Amasya, a monument of a flatbread in the southern province of Antalya’s Korkuteli district, and the list goes on.

These statues have been a hot topic on social media, receiving criticism as many users find them “ugly,” “disgusting,” “amusing” and “nonartistic.” Some even named the incident “sculpture terror.”

However, Coşkun came forward to defend these statues.

“Watermelon, bread, stick or whatever… All these sculptures are real examples of Turkish pop art,” he said on Twitter.

Underlining that he saw “these artistic works” as “popular and absolutely creative,” Coşkun said: “Turkish contemporary art must follow these works’ steps. These are the symbols of the people of this region expressing themselves in their own ways.”

Coşkun also made a call to young Turkish artists to “examine these works very closely.”

“These are marvelous surreal works. Everybody should make anything in any form they wish,” he added.

Soon after Coşkun’s tweet defending the sculptures, art lovers responded and shared their views, with some supporting the artist’s words while others opposing it with strong criticism.

Responding to the negative criticism, Coşkun said, “At least, my people are making sculptures.”

Born in the Central Anatolian province of Çorum in 1941, Coşkun is mostly known for paintings and gravures in which he mixed real issues with the illusion. After moving to Paris in 1971, he named himself “Komet” after a music band.

Spending his time between Istanbul and Paris, Coşkun opened 15 exhibitions in Turkey, nine in Paris and one each in Wien, Salzburg, Lausanne and Brussels.

Separately, owners of the companies that make those statues shared their views in an interview with daily Hürriyet on June 19.

Company owners blamed the budget of municipalities and not the artists they work with for the way those much-debated sculptures turned out.

“We work parallel to the budget the municipalities save for the project. The ones discussed on social media are the cheapest ones,” Halil Keklikoğlu said during the interview.

“It is not our fault. It is the fault of those who deem those cheap things worthy of the people living in their provinces,” Necati İnci, another manufacturer, noted in the interview.