Art and Culture

Ülmen Aygin – Sümer Erek 1973 – 2018 – Art Exhibition 


By Heidi Trautmann …

Art Statements – Memories – Phenomena of Human Life

Art is a healing power, many know that, it is a multi-purpose tool to make something visible in an artistic way.

Experienced artists have the ability to bring something to the surface so it can be seen, understood and handled better. What is art, how far goes art and what is involved in its many facets. Art is the expertise of…. presentation of an object, a situation, a phenomenon, a social or political problem in a simplified or abstract form, dismantling the ‘thing’ from its covering, its mantle of protection or its veiling skins. All art forms are tools with its specific forms of presentation, painting, sculpting, theatre, literature, photography, and so on, and can all be used to make a point. What is an artist? The way I see it, an artist is a highly sensitive person who has all his senses well developed through his/her work, owns a great perceptiveness of all things around and with hard training and belief, he/she will be able to present them in a proper way. And as it is with every living being, education and experience is the most important factor in the development of a person, especially an artist. One cannot present hunger, pain, love, happiness and unhappiness if one has not gone through these experiences. I heard that a ballet dancer will only be an accomplished dancer when he/she has crossed the valley of pain, that had most impressed me when a child.

Sümer Erek is such a person, such an artist. I did an interview with him for the second volume of my book ‘Art and Creativity in North Cyprus’. Here is a short paragraph to introduce him. The entire interview is attached below.

Sümer EREK

Multidisciplinary conceptual artist

Born in Limassol in 1959

A house is a place where spirit and art can reside

Home country, roots, earth, identity, refugees, displacement, conflict, loss: these are the elements that are included in Sümer Erek’s interpretation of ‘house’. Not simply a roof over one’s head, providing the freedom to express one’s personality but also, as he says, a home for the arts.

I met Sümer Erek during one of his visits to Cyprus when he sees his family and friends, coming for one of his own exhibitions or to an exhibition of his artist friends. For many years now, his base has been in London with his house and his studio, his work and his immediate recognition, but his heart is in Cyprus, an aching heart.

Sümer was born with an immense curiosity and an ever questioning mind. “My curiosity stopped at nothing, exploring, researching from early age on. There were books available to me at the house of my uncle who was an archaeologist. Questions formed when I saw my uncle working and I always received answers. Also my parents were creative people, my father a carpenter and my mother a tailor.  Creativity was a daily exercise for us, creativity also in the wider sense for me, enabling me to get the things I wanted, to be creative at earning my own money which made me independent.  I was regarded an arrogant little fellow because I was rather headstrong.”

Sümer Erek knows pain, he knows about the difficulty to identify and handle the pain to dismantle it. In this project which was shown in the ArtRooms in Kyrenia he speaks about it, about his experiences from 1974 – 2018 and how he went about a pain, a double pain of loss and of his own near death. It happened in Istanbul in 1974 during the civil war, that he and his friend were kidnapped and shot. Read the story by clicking here, a review of his exhibition and live performance in Brussels. This 1974 event changed his life and his understanding of art. Over 40 years have passed and – as he said to me when I visited the exhibition – it was through my work on this project that I faced my encapsulated pain and brought it to the surface.

The exhibition ended on the 7th November, it was on for a whole month, but I could not attend it before, having found myself in a similar phase of pain. However, I wanted to talk about it and share my few photos with you. It is what art is about, at least one important part of it: it is to interpret life and the many experiences one goes through.

The main part of the project was the establishment of one book for each year passed since that deadly encounter in 1974, i.e. 40 books and for the Unlived Days of his murdered friend, that makes 14.600 posters altogether, he shows on screen over eight hours. Posters worked on the basis of a drawing he once did of his friend and of photos he had. Next to it, on another screen, artist friends read the thoughts and comments from family members and others, just like facing a Wailing Wall. The exhibition is an emotional journey and pain is the vehicle, encountering portraits and stops on the way. Sümer Erek was present and guided the journey.

Thank you, Sümer, for sharing.