Erkan Aladağ

“I use whatever style is required in a particular situation. In any case, my starting point is always a brush and paint.“

In this interview with the Turkish painter Erkan Aladağ. We talk about his work, his perspectives on realism, the particularities of digital painting, and much more…


How did you start painting? Do you remember the first time you understood painting was your way?

I started at a very young age. My uncles played a role in this because I would be jealous of them: I felt their paintings were beautiful. The materials they used were unique and I would steal the ones they used. I would literally steal, but I still couldn’t paint like them! Sometimes I think I am a painter for the sake of my stubbornness.


What -or who- are you inspired by?

I am inspired by the painting style of the 17th century, but also by Ottoman miniatures and post-1960 European art.  I get lost in these three periods.


You use different styles and media to create your works. What makes you choose one technique or another? How do you learn new ones?

When an idea or image is formed in my head, I try to use the visual techniques that are most suitable for what I want to create. I use whatever style is required in a particular situation. In any case, my starting point is always a brush and paint.

What is the theme of your series “Posa (Dregs)”? How did you come up with it?

While making this series, I was drawing figures on waste material. The figures were generally tough. My aim was to visualize the human image trying to exist in time in fragmented spaces. At that time, the people collecting paper drew my attention. This is how these people made a living. I used the word dregs to mean the leftover, garbage of something. These people were recycling the leftovers of consumer goods. It was perfectly matched with the technique I used.

In a sense, what I did was to recycle the pulp again. These people and I are a wheel of capitalism, whether we like it or not: this caught my attention. I wanted to paint things we don’t want to see.


I feel a sense of distress in “Safra(Gall) ”. What do you want to convey to the viewer?

 The gall sequence developed after my father’s death. It’s a completely psychological and personal series. Even though I had tried different techniques up to that point, I still had a realist perspective in my works. With the death of my father, my realist point of view died as well. There is no longer any point in the images being realistic anymore. My latest works in the Safra series became the substructure for “Fragments of the wickedness and Lost ..”.


Is there a painting you are really emotionally attached to? Why?

I am very attached to all of my works, all of them are special to me. They are influenced by the state of mind I am in at that moment.


You also work digitally…When did you start using this media? How has it been received by the public?   

I have been doing digital works since last year. To make a living, I work in a job outside the art world, and thus I don’t have much time for my personal studies. Digital techniques are very useful because they are fast and you can intervene over and over again. This has been very positive for me.

Although this media was not initially taken seriously in my own country, when I posted it on social media, I got very good reactions from many people from other places, with or without art education. In this way, I met different artists and groups.  


Where do you usually present your art? Are you followed by a gallery or you work more as a freelance?

I am working as a freelance right now. I usually showcase my work on social media


Is there a suggestion you would give to your younger self?

Work hard, read a lot. Don’t be fooled by negative consequences and don’t give up on your dreams.


How do you think painting and visual art in general will evolve in the era of social media?

I think painting and visual art will improve in a positive way. We will learn more about artworks and artists. We will closely witness artistic formations and festivals that take place anywhere in the world. This will improve our perception. Perhaps, we will move towards different ideas, different possibilities of expression.

Next and upcoming projects?

First of all, I’ll arrange my website completely. Many of my works have not been published yet. I made canvas paintings and digital works on the topic of the project named “Fragments of the wickedness and Lost ..”. Also, I have started a Ph.D. in Fine Arts Education at Dokuz Eylul University. Finally, when the pandemic period will be over, we are planning to organize many exhibitions and events with a small art community.

Credits: Erkan Aladağ

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