Feathers and Kisses
Born in Turkey, artist Mertim Gökalp remembers having his first exhibition aged five. It was at his school, ”a portrait in pastels,” he says. ”I used to just put people in front of me, my parents…friends.”
While not entirely comfortable describing his work – placing it technically somewhere between realism and expressionism – he talks about ”old-school techniques meeting edgy subject matter . . . to match people’s modern lives.”
Mertim trained in Instanbul at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts Academy, arriving in Sydney in 2009. He’s since been a finalist in the 2013 Archibald Prize, the Doug Moran Portrait Prize in 2012 and the Black Swan Art Prize in 2011 – among others – and granted an Australian Government talent visa to live and work here.
Clearly interested in getting inside the head of his subjects, Mertim seeks to translate their inner lives onto canvas. I find myself fascinated by his process, as he eagerly answers questions during our interview.
Painting mostly female models he meets on the street, Mertim approaches those he has ”a connection with, or good feeling about” and spends time ”trying to understand their life, their struggles and their aura.” There’s a photo shoot with each portrait subject, and sometimes several live studio sessions.
Everybody is painted with an object, either important to them or Mertim, frequently with ironic intent. When asked about his artistic intentions, Mertim mentions ”confronting people’s emotions at a deeper level, whether they love it or hate it . . . it’s like a sharing of emotions . . . each exhibition reflects a different period of my life.”
Looking at Mertim’s work today makes me curious about that first portrait. It’s clear when we talk that his contemporary work is the result of a lifetime dedicated to his art, despite a one-time desire to become a rock star.
His next exhibition Feathers & Kisses opens 6-8pm on 4 September 2014 at Art2Muse Gallery in Sydney’s Double Bay.
Feathers & Kisses – Mertim Gökalp
02 -15 September 2014
357 New South Head Road, Double Bay – Sydney
10am – 4pm Tuesday
10am – 7pm Wednesday
10am – 7pm Thursday
10am – 7pm Friday
10am – 4pm Saturday
10am – 4pm Sunday