Articles

Articles

He lets the silver chain he has been twirling in his hand fall on the glass table, and leaning forward, starts to interpret life, art, god, work, war, the latest technology… -rarely himself-, with curiosity, passion, self confidence, and always, a great deal of realism. “How do you deal with the heartache over the loss of a loved one?” He is likely to say, “Well, when you don’t have control over the matter at hand, the body takes over, and produces hormones that usually end up causing stomachache, When you have a stomachache you know you are sad. That is why people who drink are usually sad. One drinks to get rid of the stomachache because alcohol numbs the pain. On another occasion, he exclaims, “What do people mean when they say ‘I love with all my heart’? Such a thing doesn’t make sense. One loves only with ones mind; with the eyes first, then with the mind. Then the body reacts to that by increased heartache, and people think love has to do something with the heart!” Now this may sound cold, evenshallow, too simplistic, especially coming from an artist. Artists are supposed to be sentimental, temperamental, emotional, complicated -ok, maybe philosophical… anything but cerebral, logical and analytical! Well, Alinur is at once none and all of the above. He is a harmonious fusion of opposites in many ways, in many fields. This ostentatious, speedy, dynamic man –like his work- is a man of contrasts and contradictions.

He has an extremely distinctive, almost dandified appearance. Tall; his hair always tied up in a pony tail; his clothes only black or white, either cotton or leather, with accessories of silver bracelets. When he enters a room, he is seen and heard. One always knows where he stands on any issue. He presents himself firmly with fearless affection. Yet, despite the fact that he is surrounded by this masculine –as opposed to the other kind- energy, he has inquisitive eyes that light up when he smiles, and delicate artistic hands. As he listens he pits with his lips, which makes them look like they belong to a 4-year-ol mischievous boy, rather than a middle aged internationally successful businessman at the height of his career. Finally, he drives a huge black Hammer brand SUV; and has a dog named Ashram, a tiny snow white female Maltese terrier, with a missing eye and a most loving personality. It is hard to gauge him, but maybe not so much… Just like Andy Warhol said about himself, “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, there I am. There’s nothing behind it.”, maybe Alinur is free enough of an artist to show himself as who he is. Maybe one has to give up trying to find something under the surface. Maybe the depth is reflected as itself on the surface; on the many designs-representations-jingles-decorations-photographs-TV commercials-music videos-animations bearing his signature as the head of Güzel Sanatlar, Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising Agency. The interior decorations he does are covered by many periodicals, among them, the very prestigious Style Times of London. Alinur is inspired by the harmony of opposites in his design work as well-black and white; neoclassical and high-tech; the old and the new… The designs of most objects in his environment are his own. Since everything is so personal, even his dominant choice of metal looses its cold appearance, and becomes something almost childishly soft. His juvenile playfulness can be traced to the many toys he keeps, especially in his house in London, a place where his art and life merge into one another. The most creative aspect of the apartment is undoubtedly its kitchen. At the first look, there is nothing strange: a stainless steel breakfast table, black and white floor tiles, the regular kitchen utensils- but when you look up, there is another kitchen hanging down from the ceiling… Alinur used props left over from his TV commercials to put together a ‘real’ breakfast table, with half eaten plates of eggs, coffee mugs, a newspaper, and a pair of boots on the floor/ceiling- all on top of his kitchen. This reminds one of Salvador Dali’s famous practical jokes. Dali once did the same with the furniture in his living room, attached them to the ceiling, and threw a big party. When people entered the empty room it felt them like they were walking on the ceiling. Some even fell down, since they lost their point of reference. Although Dali is one of Alinur’s inspirations, he did not know about this before doing his kitchen. Apparently creative minds work alike. Metal has an important role in Alinur’s life and art. Symbolically, it is curious that he fins comfort in and surrounds himself with this element. Another contrast emerges, even within the choice itself; metal is undoubtedly cold, hard and lacking in depth; but at the same time, it is shiny precise and reflective. Also, in eastern traditions, metal is identified as the symbol of masculinity-authority-strength-leadership-achievement-awareness. The energy of metal is considered synonymous with what is called “lake energy” which is associated with romance-creativity-late afternoon sunsets in the west-the golden glow in the sky-moving toward completion-signifying a time at the end of autumn when we enjoy the fruits of the harvest- a time reward… The nature of the movement of the metallic energy is inward and solidifying. Metallic virtues include righteousness-happiness-security-wholeness, and also the energy of money, richness and abundance, and our ability to create tangible rewards and results from our efforts. Even these are nothing but precisely and fully Alinur’s defining attributes. He says he just like metal; likes the way it looks, for no particular reason and claims he is one of the first to appreciate its domestic decorative use. “I knew it was coming, it had to. The wars were over; big investments were all finished railroads, skyscrapers, and big constructions, all completed. Metal, especially precious ones like Platinum had no use anymore. So its price started decreasing, and all of a sudden metal started appearing in everyday utensils. And I knew in no time it would be a part of interior decoration.”

He has such an infallible ability to nose out trends before they become hot. “When something is in fashion it is already out of fashion” he states, “What is important is to wear yellow when everybody is wearing red, than you are a trendsetter”, which he definitely is. Not that he is personally interested in being the first to wear yellow himself, being fashionable per se. As mentioned earlier, he only wears either black or white, and is quite set in his ways otherwise. His choice of cuisine, music, decoration, hasn’t changed over the years. This trend-setting ability is due partly to the demands of his career. As an advertising person, he needs to be aware of the latest thing before it is the latest thing; and partly due to his hunger for knowledge, his curiosity to read whatever comes his way about what is going on in the world. It is simply the way he prefers to spend his time, “I can not just idle away, I am not used to it. I feel urge to be productive. It probably has something to do with my upbringing.” he says. He grew up in a cultured environment. Both his grandparents were intellectuals. His father’s father, Hifzi Veldet Velidedeoglu, a professor of law, is one of the founding fathers of the Turkish Republic. His mother, despite the fact that she became a homemaker after Alinur and his brother were born, is educated in law; and his father was an engineer. “So…” he recalls, affectionately smiling, “the dinner table conversations revolved around boring issues with Mozart playing in the background.” His father was a strict parent. Although he remembers being upset as a little boy when he wasn’t readily given all he asked for, he says “I now appreciate what my father did. I would do the same if I had a kid. Thanks to my upbringing I developed the necessary drive to go after and accomplish my dreams.” Dream… dream of a glittering future, that’s what he did all throughout his academic years. “My mind was never in class, I read heroic adventure books watched James Bond movies and imagined my future to be like that. An internationally acclaimed hero, moving from adventure to adventure, in a different country each time, with a different girl. I didn’t have a career in mind, or a talent at hand than, but I knew I was going to aim high. In retrospect, I am at a higher point in my career than what I dreamt of. I guess mostly due to the fact that I had the confidence that I could do it, and also…” he smiles, “I am smart, I never aimed at owning the Empire States Building.” Alinur started working in the animation department of Istanbul Advertising Agency right after high school, while attending Marmara University Faculty of Fine Arts, to study graphic design in the evenings. For the first six months he did everything he was told to do, xeroxing, cleaning equipment, stapling… Then one day the department head leaves to get a pack of cigarettes, and doesn’t return. With a twist of faith, he had to take over as a director. He produced his first TV commercial at the age of 18. He remembers the excitement of seeing it for the first time along with his co-workers and bosses. After screening, everybody in the conference room started to applaud him, and he ran upstairs to hide his tears of pride and joy. Two years into his career, though, while still at school, he felt he was already stagnating. He didn’t like the work coming out of the agency, he didn’t like what he, himself was producing either… “I invested heavily in professional literature, so I was able to follow what was going on in the world. They were way ahead of us.” All he wanted was to have his own company. He was determined to be successful at what he did, and not only in Turkey, but internationally.

He did accomplish his goals; opened his own advertising agency in 1977, and joined with Saatchi International a few years later. After 1990, he started producing exclusively outside Turkey, due to technical advantages. He is the recipient of 24 international awards, including London International, NY International, Lion Int Ad Festival, Cannes, and a world championship in Cresta. As he began working internationally, he began residing outside of Turkey. Thus, formed other connections, which grew into other businesses. He was proclaimed one of the 17 most eminent people in Europe, and was interviewed, by the “Executive Life Style” program of NBC, being the first person from Turkey to be nominated as such outside political circles. Currently he is a businessman who lives on 3 continents, and travels excessively. The dream of becoming an international success is fulfilled, maybe time to rest? “My dreams will never truly be fulfilled” he says. “To rest is not in my nature. I hate the concept of retirement. I will retire when I die. The phrase I use most frequently is ‘come on’… on to the next thing. Not that I am unsatisfied or take my accomplishments for granted; but as I am approaching one goal I already have the other one ready, pushing forward from the back of my mind.” Alinur cannot forget the time he received his first awards in 1984. After the ceremony, he was very proud and excited as he sat at his desk, gazing at his trophy. Then, something strange happened. “I had to go to the toilet! So I did, came back, sat down, resumed reflecting on the events which had brought me to that day, still watching my trophy with awe… Then I felt hungry, and to my surprise, felt like having exactly what I had the day before. Then it hit me, in fact nothing had really changed.” The concepts of competing, winning, trophies, medals occupy his mind extensively. He is deeply moved by the Olympic award ceremonies. “Imagine, prior to the Olympics, you win all the competitions in your home country. You are a hero. But at the end of the Olympics, only one athlete in the world gets the gold medal. In a matter of split seconds, either everybody knows about you the next day, or you are an ordinary person. After a lifetime of effort, you are either erased or rewarded-and that only for four years-. Then a better athlete always comes along. This is true for life as well.  I realized early on in my career that in the world of competition there is no winning, because in the next moment there can and will inevitably be someone else who is better than you. “At the end of the day nothing really matters all that much but to live fully and wholeheartedly. My accomplishments will lose their initial meaning. Nevertheless, I will continue competing, not with anyone or for anything, but only to push my own limits. This is a quest towards the unattainable.” The idea behind the artwork in this book came to him in a flash two years ago as he was reflecting one day in the kitchen of his London home. Here are two other prominent Alinur attributes: First, he loves to think, to tire out his mind to a point of exhaustion. Second, insights –the slogan for an advertising campaign, the melody of a jingle, the design of a bookcase- come to him in flashes. “Maybe because I read all the time my head is readily filled with information. When something is needed, just like from a computer folder, it is retrieved in an instant.” So in a matter of minutes almost all of the 125 by 250 cm metal based mixedmedia installations were drafted in his mind. This is Alinur’s debut as a pure artist; pure in that he has no financial expectations or worries. That’s why the prices are so high. At 1 million $ each –which in part will be donated- even the tags carry a message. He wants to show the young artists that it is possible to be bold and daring. More daringly though, alinur aims for immortality; to leave something behind to be remembered by. Also he will try his luck in the international area again, the same way he did with his business career. It’s a challenge, and he loves challenges. But these are merely his reasons for opening an exhibition. The content and style of his works, what the installations point to, is a different story, in which we find the real person, the creative character of Alinur. Creative people create whatever they create in the medium of, and through the structures of their own characters. They have a particular wish, a wish for self-ordering/organization, which also reflects their philosophy of life; the order they wish their world to be in. The fundamental theme that can be traced through an artist’s work has the same psychic source as his personality, where his impressions, inspirations, motivation all come from. It is nothing but the hero figure from his childhood, which is at the heart of Alinur’s psychic source. He experiences life and conducts himself in an extravagant combination of idealism and realism. Committed to doing the right thing in the right way, he dwells in current issues with a fearless hunger for knowledge truth, and openness; respects the valves of the old world with a most liberal mind; interchangeably contrasts and fuses black and white-never gray; and his art reflects and revolves around these dichotomies.

Although it is hard to place his work in any specific category, it is safe to say that he stands at the intersection of Duchamp’s Conceptual Art and Warhol’s Pop Art. Some of his other influences are Victor Vazarelli, one of the masters of Op-art; and M.C. Escher, whose whole body of work explores dividing the plane by the merging together and separating of oppositions. Division of the plane is important in Alinur’s art as well. He takes advantage of the “golden line” for his compositions. The golden line is determined by the oldest, most traditional formula used in the field of visual arts. Be it photography, painting, sculpture, or motion pictures, many successful and famous works in the history of art are based on this formula. The golden line is where the eye is directed to initially, as soon as one looks at any composition. It is the proper point to place what needs to be said. In his installations, Alinur installs his punchline messages at this golden line, and contrasts them on a background of modular repetition, which represents the mundane. Be it mundane or special; elitist or ethical; popular or rare, what matters to Alinur is what matters to most people: sex-god-money-size-time-war-health-death-life-love-poverty-the future… By these “either-or” combinations he presents an awesome panorama of the world and times we live in, the Zeitgeist. He has no apparent worry of artistic or philosophical consistency. He doesn’t care if he is agreed with or nor, he is just stating facts from his own point of view. The themes vary. Some installations shout, “And the winner is…” (Records, film rolls, hearts); some cry out, “But the truth is… (Toy cars, cemetery, St Tropez 1, 2). In some there are conceptual riddles to be solved (brands, tits, keys); and some stand out just for their precision and finishing, providing good examples of minimalism where form is the exclusive content (laser beam, neon, backgammon) With such variety of attitudes, he runs the risk of being accused by the artsy socialist group of being an elitist (dupont); and by the socialist of being too serious, too concerned (women’s shoes)! He shrugs his shoulders, “In fact I don’t belong to any particular group. I am there indeed, but at the same time never really there.” This is true. He is a very private person. Although he provides the viewer with as many maxims as he does with his art, which at times can be extremely revealing (sex 1, post its, art2), he is reluctant to open up and talk about himself. Not because he is secretive, although he may be if necessary; but more because he prefers to spend his time doing or learning. He is concerned with how to do; not who does. Come to think of it, we don’t see James Bond talking to M about his innermost feelings either. So would it be appropriate to say, there is a possibility that he actually succeeded at developing into the hero of his childhood dreams..? As Alinur prepared for the opening of his exhibition, his ambition, this single trait that ultimately described him, seemed to have progressed above and beyond his identity of film maker-photographer-graphic artist-interior decorator-industrialdesigner-composer-businessman. His work was the physical proof of his evolution into a new kind of artist who, over the course of a life time, has evolved into his perfect form, organically fusing all of the above art forms. An artist with a passion to make life more meaningful.

 

BEHIND THE SCENES