Hello, Melek Anqi. Although we have a lot of information about you, we would like to hear from you directly. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Thank you. My Turkish name is Melek, which means Angel in Arabic, and my Taiwanese name is Anqi—I am known by this name in East Asia. I am a contemporary artist of half Taiwanese half Turkish origin. I synthesize Asian culture and popular culture elements and produce Physi-Digital (physical-digital) collage works. I like to use physical materials (paint, ink, paper, fabric) and digital tools together to tell compelling, intriguing and slightly eerie stories.
I studied and lived in Turkey, Taiwan and North America. I have been creating new realms with the collage technique since my childhood, and now by incorporating digital tools in my art practice.
I completed part of my undergraduate education and my master’s degree at UCLA and Yale University in the USA with a scholarship. I studied painting with Irish artist Nuala Clarke in New York. I also studied fashion design, illustration and pattern-making at ESMOD International Fashion Academy. I currently live and work in Turkey. In 2021, I participated in prominent fairs and artistic events in Turkey such as ArtContact Contemporary Art Fair, Bodrum Art and Antique Fair, 16th Contemporary Istanbul, Artweeks Akaretler 5th Edition, IAAF Art and Antique Fair. My works were exhibited in Ankara, Istanbul, Bodrum and Izmir.
Our paths came together with BB Projectt in Turkey. I am now represented by BB Projectt, an innovative contemporary art gallery.
Although you technically progress in the same style, we know that you create works on different themes. You present these themes in the form of serial works. Can you tell us about the formation process of your series?
Actually, I work in series in order to be able to deal with a subject in depth and to get to its essence. As I progress in the series, I better understand the subject I want to cover. I have observed that working in series helps me grow as an artist because of the in -depth research I have to do. It also gives me the encouragement to try new techniques, and it strongly guides me towards reaching the “deeper knowledge” of the theme I’m dealing with.
The process starts with choosing one of the themes that affect me first, or rather, the theme chooses me. First, I engage in an extensive visual research related to that theme. With the method called “Mood Board”, which I learned in fashion design, I start to produce images myself and also collect them from various sources. Over time, I bring these images together physically or digitally. On the other hand, I read and take notes from various sources to strengthen the content of the series. It is important to be gather knowledge from different disciplines, sources and life experiences. Literature, cultural studies, psychoanalytic approach, shamanic teachings, ancient Greek philosophy as well as art history inform my studies. In this process, I stop from time to time and try to explore the links trying to emerge, both to my personal mythology and to human situations that are wider than my personal story.
As works in the series unfold, the viewers’ reactions also influence the story and other works of the series. This interaction makes the series more meaningful for me. While there are occasional pauses, it doesn’t actually end for me once a series starts. From time to time, I can go back and make new works or transform the existing works in the series.
How did your latest series “Journey of the Seed” come about? How did the creative process go?
In 2011, I attended a training where some of the teachings of Delicate Lodge, which preserves ancient shamanic teachings, were conveyed. I have had interesting spiritual experiences of our connection with ourselves and all beings in the world. I started to create the first visuals of the series in 2011. I was drawing meditatively with oil pastels, on kraft paper. 10 years later, when I visited these images again, I realized that I had drawn parts of a story about realizing our life purpose, living the dream that life wanted us to live. The series brings these pieces together. One of the works in the series was exhibited at the 5th Edition of Artweeks Akaretler in September, and another at the IAAF Istanbul Art and Antique Fair in November. It is still evolving.
When we look at all of your works, we see that they all have powerful manifestos. You are not just showing the viewer something or making them discover something new. Sometimes your work includes criticism. There is a strong audience that thinks that the artist should always keep the audience dynamic and create awareness for the society. what do you think? Should the artist direct the society he lives in while keeping the art dynamic?
Art is political in nature. Artists try to capture and show what the truth is. Even when the artist tells his/her personal story, she actually has a message to the society. However, I feel that the notion that the artist “must defend an issue/problem” will put pressure on the artists in Turkey. This anxiety can create a disconnect in the artist’s sincerity as he/she strives to be an artist who “talks about big issues.” For myself, I do not act with the mission of raising awareness, I try to connect with people by telling stories with my series. The possibility that what is important to me may be important to someone else motivates me in my artistic practice.
We see you very active in fairs and exhibitions. Are there any new projects, and if so, what are they? What awaits us?
2021 was a very busy year. Many fairs and exhibitions that were postponed due to the pandemic took place all at once. Now I will continue to work on my “Journey of the Seed” series with shamanic elements. We are also working on presenting my works to the art market as NFT.
What is your plan after your projects are finished? Will we see you with a new work series or a solo exhibition?
Although the seeds of my “Journey of the Seed” series were planted ten years ago, there are still works awaiting to realize in that series. I want to bring these works to art lovers. We also have a plan to present a curation of my current series as a solo exhibition. Our new projects can be followed both on IG: @melekanqi_art on social media and on IG: BBprojectt’s page. Thank you for the interview.
Melek Anqi (Kocasinan) Artist Profile:
BB Projectt Contact Info:
Tesvikiye Mah. Osman F. Seden Sk. Kilic Han No:6/6 Nisantasi, Istanbul
Photos of the Artist: Uğur Erden