50 years ago, on 20th of July 1969, Neil Armstrong took the first step on moon surface. I was four years old then. I believe it was big news even in Turkey because even though there was no TV broadcast in Istanbul at that time, I have a lot of paintings from that period. Probably I have overheard it spoken in the house or somebody told me about it.
In 2000 and 2001, I did a series of moon-space themed paintings. I usually combined it with poems as moon and other celestial bodies had always been a recurrent theme in Turkish poetry or poetry in general.
Half Way (2000) was the first of such paintings. This small pastel painting shows an astronaut, sitting on the branch of a tree that have grown out of the command module, as it floats between earth and the moon.
The Ivy (2001) is a larger oil paint, again based on a poem. This time an ivy growing out of the command module reaches the earth.
I really like taking the moon or earth out of their context in the poem and do a drawing based on the literal meaning rather than the symbolism the poet has intended. When this rejection of the poems symbolism is combined with the surreal imaginary of the painting, I believe it creates a confusion where the viewer loses the point of reference. To me a good painting should alternate between multiple meanings without allowing the viewer to settle on any one of them, but rather navigate from one to the other.
Another paintings Sunflower (2001), which shows a sunflower or the sun itself growing out of the command module. This one was a mother’s day present for my mom, a vase of flowers.
I did quite a few space related paintings since then. Some I like, some I don’t but still here they are.
Uçuyorum Huriye (I’m flying Huriye) (2015) takes its name from an old joke in Turkish and show our astronaut in space with the moon as his helium balloon, lifting him from earth and making him float in space. Flight to Moon (2015) this time shows our command module, lifted off by a hearth-shaped balloon in its flight towards the moon. Neptune (2015) is just Neptune…
This year, I am going back to the same theme to celebrate 50 years of landing on the moon, to create a number of paintings and drawing that combines this important event in history with my personal interpretation. You can check Abbas 1 and Abbas 2 which are studies for a painting with Cahit Kulebi’s famous poem. Also there are ballpoint pen drawings from Interstellar, Martian, Prometheus and First Man.
Follow my Instagram feed and this page if you are interested to see more space-themed images.