OMM Studio VI: Q&A With Kerem Durukan

Kerem Durukan’s harmonious blend of curiosity and contemplation.

Istanbul-based artist Kerem Durukan utilizes his education in painting, graphic design and industrial design to make intuitive art by combining elements from various fields and time periods. Kerem Durukan began making art by drawing, and added design, sculpture, photography, installation and performance to his practice over time. For him, art is a form of meditation that brings a sense of shelter and comfort. Durukan is primarily known with his vibrant compositions encompassing a bold range of colors; we take a closer look at his process in this week’s OMM Studio.

Can you tell us a bit about your practice? What were the biggest influences as you developed your style?

My work comes from instincts I’ve practiced since my childhood, the things I’ve learned in my artistic education in addition to my experience with industrial product design and graphic design, world events, personal recollections, the society… My practice is the only space where I can set aside this cloud of information, and to me it is synonymous with belonging, with the warm feeling of “home” one often yearns for.

My painting practice centers on momentary glimpses of images created by paint on a surface, and then making sense of these images the way one finds shapes in clouds. I add layers and, depending on what I think the surface needs, incorporate a story from my “cloud” into this tangible creative space.

Did you have an upcoming exhibition or project that was cancelled due to COVID-19 and subsequent global crisis? Will your works be shown in the near future?

Not personally, but many people close to me have had to cancel upcoming projects. An ailment in January 2020 caused me to put my social life on hold until very recently. By which time, of course, the pandemic had already hit, so I’ve been staying in my studio home for a while. In that time I made enough works for two or three exhibits. I have no idea what exhibiting work will look like in the future. So for the moment I have no plans for shows.

What do you foresee for the post-pandemic art world? How has this period affected your practice?

Like I said before, I haven’t experienced a dramatic change in my physical landscape, but the obligation to do some things and the impediment on my freedom caused by this situation created a feeling of discomfort akin to a stranger falling asleep on my shoulder during a long journey. But after reassessing my space and getting over the curve, I could get back to working as I did before.

Beyond making predictions about the post-pandemic art world, as someone who is making work during this period of time, I try to focus as much as I can on the “things” that make me feel peaceful, and to multiply these feelings and incorporate them into my work. I’ve also been studying the subjects that never used to interest me in school, like psychology, anthropology, and philosophy.

Have there been any artists or exhibits you’ve been especially moved by since the beginning of isolation?

The “live now” notifications on Instagram have grabbed my attention more than artists or exhibitions. After 2018, when I explained to my family that I wanted to live and work as an artist, I limited my exposure to contemporary exhibitions. The impetus for my doing so is as much personal as it is a desire to limit external influences on my practice and work.

I’ve also felt an affinity for Gaugin again, for the first time since high school.

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