Taner Ceylan finds his way in the art world

Taner Ceylan finds his way in the art world

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Taner Ceylan finds his way in the art world The mystery of life and death haunt Turkish contemporary artist Taner Ceylan’s new series, “The Golden Age.”

In Ceylan’s recent charcoal drawings, a goddess-like creature seems to give a message that might be read as “death is not the end.” Ceylan, who has just agreed to work with New York’s Paul Kasmin Gallery, says his latest series, which he will show in the coming years at the New York gallery, reveals the esoteric and mysterious part of him.

However, Ceylan is also not done with the “Lost Painting Series” that he has been working for several years on.

“In [the ‘Lost Paintings Series’], I tried to tell the opposite story from that which Orientalism tells. There are many beautiful women, even whole harems, depicted in Orientalist paintings. But they have nothing to do with reality,” Ceylan said. “All of these depictions are of a fantasy world.”

The series is still continuing and Ceylan has just revealed his latest painting from the series, “Esma Sultan.” Ceylan is now working on another painting from the series, titled “Born of the hope.” Once again, his large-scale paintings try to depict the Ottoman Empire. “I will be showing all the ‘Lost Painting Series’ paintings at the Paul Kasmin Gallery, but the exact time has not been decided yet. It might be in fall or in spring,” he said.

To display all the “Lost Painting Series,” Ceylan will be collecting each painting from private collections and show all of them together at the Paula Kasmin Gallery. “With this show, the ‘Lost Painting Series’ will be complete,” he said.

After this period, Ceylan will be focusing solely on his new series, “The Golden Age.”


Taner Ceylan has been working on the ‘Lost
Painting Series’ for several years. ‘I tried to tell the
opposite story from that which Orientalism tells,’
he says.

Art as activism

According to Ceylan, making art in today’s world is a way of reflecting a political thought, a political approach or an example of activism. “Living with art means a political stance because you are standing against the system.”

The most important thing is to be remembered for art. “I believe I am doing that. People think that I paint and I earn money. But they should know this is a stance, and it is a very hard thing to continue and earn your life merely from painting.”

As such, he chose to work with a gallery. “I evaluated all the offers and finally decided to work with the Paul Kasmin Gallery.” A number of high-profile galleries sent offers to Ceylan, but the artist chose to work with a small-but-strong institution rather than a very large gallery.

Ultimately, an artist has two choices in pursuing his art, according to Ceylan. “You can be crushed in the system or you can shine.” At the same time, one must know what to do, he said. “As a Turkish artist coming from Turkey, I am doing my best not to disappear among the famous names. I am trying to find my way.”

However, while doing this, Ceylan moves very carefully and works very meticulously. He knows that it is not easy to be one of the most famous artists in a country, and he indeed has many fans that he respects. His success in acting carefully comes from his background and his past.

Ceylan also has a very close relation with beliefs, yoga, meditation and the esoteric. “Since I was a child, I have always had a very open mind. I always believe that there is more than this world.”

Ceylan started yoga and meditation when he was 30, saying, “It was a painful time for me, and I
decided to get well with yoga.” Since then, Ceylan has been meditating and reading books, and his belief has affected his positive approach toward life.

His new series is a reflection of these beliefs and his esoteric and mystical side. Ceylan reflects his understanding of life in his paintings. “A book that I read said that after 2012, the Golden Age will begin and the Maya calendar will finish. A new perception will [take hold], and people will start to live in a different way,” Ceylan said.

That’s what Ceylan wants to draw. “This is what I am trying to reflect in my new series,” he said.


Charcoal drawings represent greater freedom, said Turkish artist Taner Ceylan. “Technically speaking, you are freer than with paintings,” he said, adding that drawing charcoal was very exciting.

“The paintings need more care and it is a routine. But charcoal drawings are very fun and exciting for me,” he said. “You do not wash the brush every day.”

Each of Ceylan’s charcoal drawing is made with care, as the shapes and patterns are drawn meticulously, showing the audience that every example is a very detailed piece of art work.

Apart from his goddess, for which Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie’s beauty was an inspiration, Ceylan is currently drawing a male charcoal drawing, with which he raises the questions of a human being’s soul and being.


Taner Ceylan is fast becoming one of the most famous artists in Turkey amid an expansion of his art career into Europe and the United States.
Ceylan is currently engaged in a very busy period that has its share of ups and downs. “First of all, my personal life should never come to the fore rather than my art. An artist who is known for his art should always know with his art,” he said.
Of course, Ceylan hesitates on this issue. “I am acting very carefully,” he said.