A few years ago we introduce you to the work of Özer Toraman. We thought it was a good time to go a bit deeper into his world and to have a look at where he is now. Based in Berlin, Özer Toraman’s work is mainly based on the deconstruction of the narrow-minded politics of identity and gender.
KALTBLUT: Tell us about your creative background – when did you first start painting/what really pushed you to do so? Özer: I opened my eyes to life at the foot of the hills in Van, Turkey, where I grew up in a small village until the age of 10. It can’t be said that there was much connection to the outside world, there was not even electricity in our village. I did my first drawings here: flowing rivers, lively nature, butterflies. I was painting the world that I saw and perceived at that time. This is my starting point, and it began to deepen and grow in me over time. After moving to Istanbul with my family and finishing high school, I decided to study fine arts.
KALTBLUT: How will you describe your work with your own words? Özer: My main focus today kept a passion for life above all. In my last series, I painted portraits, in which I dissolve visible physical differences. My work creates hybrid figures, that explore the nature of singularity and confront the viewer with a direct view into the eyes.
KALTBLUT: What medium/tools do you feel most comfortable with when creating your work? Özer: I usually work in my paintings with oil on canvas, a calming work environment with less distraction is important for my concentration.
KALTBLUT: Are your illustrations inspired by personal experiences or of friends/scenarios you know of? Özer: Most of my paintings are from friends or people I meet while traveling for example. I also have some pictures that I converted from strong images I have taken from film scenes that caught me.
KALTBLUT: Where do you get most of your inspirations? Özer: I think this is related to my childhood, the joy of a child grown up in nature. I feel great happiness when the sun shines on my skin. First of all, light and nature are my biggest inspirations. Elements of cultural life, poetry, and literature, music and dance, movies, are other important factors that nurture my creative work. Observing people and my surroundings also inspire me to examine contrasts and see a world where reality is multi-interpretive.
KALTBLUT: You’re based in Berlin now, but grew up in Istanbul. How both cities influence your work? Özer: I moved to Berlin in 2017. Both cities have their own strong dynamics. I think art as a universal language builds strong bridges between cities and countries. I see this bridge very intense between Berlin and Istanbul. Experiencing this intercultural synthesis adds a further dimension to my artistic creation.
KALTBLUT: What’s your favorite thing about Berlin? Özer: Berlin is a great platform for diversity, that offers safe spaces for lateral thinkers. The combination of artistic possibilities and artists from all different disciplines makes up a very colorful life here. I also enjoy the city with its wide green parks and canals.
KALTBLUT: What message do you want to get out of your art? Özer: I aim to establish a connection between the audience that perceives my pictures while opening a window with a look at a world outside of entrenched and constructed norms. I want to mirror in my paintings that every person has a special and strong side.
KALTBLUT: How do you spend your days now with the quarantine? Özer: At the moment I spent a lot of time in my studio doing new experimental studies. I hope we can overcome this situation well and especially creative minds will be supported with good perspectives.
KALTBLUT: How is this situation is affecting you, and your work? Özer: As in other fields, many projects and exhibitions have been canceled in the art world. For me as an artist, currently, I can say that it allows me to focus on gaining new perspectives in my creative process.
KALTBLUT: What do you wish for the future? Özer: I wish that we become aware of the pure joy, that we can experience in our own individual nature. That we take care of each other’s individual characteristics and feel a strong sense of solidarity to keep our environment healthy, in order not to leave the children of our future without love. Sincerely, Özer Toraman