We had the good fortune of connecting with Serkan Altinoz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Serkan, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Honestly for so long I didn’t think that one day I am going to be a full time artist. I think younger ages my curiosity was so piqued and I was all over the place. I grew up in an artist family. My father is a musician and also he is a paper marbling artist . So when I was 8-9 years old, I started learning the secret of this ancient art form with my dad and also I practiced several musical instruments. But all those things was just a hobby to me , only thing i knew about myself was I like to discover, learn new things and work with my hands. After the high school I thought “logically” and said to my self that you can have totally different degree and keep the art as a hobby, And I decided to have a bachelor degree on economics. It was not that easy as I thought I should say 🙂 During my university years I got much more into arts and music than my economy classes . My drive on arts was so strong and after I graduated from university I decided to give myself a chance on visual arts, and beginning of 2013 I moved to Nyc to start my inner journey and improve my technique. Here in NYC I met with so many great people, artists, designers. The energy here was so powerful and inspirational. So that gave me an extra confidence to stick on my creative path .Since then still learning, discovering and sharing my experiences with people as much as I can do.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I use one of the ancient art technique calls “ebru” as a foundation of my art process. Ebru is the traditional Turkish art of creating colourful patterns by sprinkling and brushing colour pigments onto a pan of oily water and then transferring the patterns to paper. The ancient art of paper marling has traveled a complex journey from at least the 10th century to present day. As there are no reliable records of the history of this art form, so its origin cannot be dated exactly. It is to be supposed that the archetypes of this craft appeared roughly between the 6th and 10th century, the period in which Turks and Chinese shared the secret of paper making around Central Asia. It then spread to East Asia, Central Asia, and Europe and as a result, this wide influential trip not only enriched paper marbling as an art form, but also exerted an enormous influence on these cultures. Since the beginning of this journey, the secrets and the most delicate techniques of paper marbling have passed down from mentor to student. This mentor-student partnership is in a sense analogous to an alchemist-apprentice relationship. In this relationship, not only the key points about the usage of natural elements to make colors which are also used in their raw form and spread on the water smoothly, but also the historical and spiritual background of the journey are shared. This alchemist-like approach creates a spiritual and natural togetherness and naturally gives birth to personal transmutation, purification and perfection. As water continually changes phase within our atmosphere, it reflects the metamorphosis and regeneration process that keeps organic life in a harmonic balance with all other forms of creation. Through my artistic process, I explore the limitless creative potential of water as a source through which pigments and heat can combine to create complex geometric patterns, fractal-like detail, and stunning abstractions. This exploration has led me to explore a new technique that draws upon traditional Turkish paper marbling. My interest in paper marbling started in my early childhood thanks to my father, Sedat Altinoz, who is a 5th generation paper marbling artist at Mustafa Duzgunman Ecole in Turkey. His insights on paper marbling helped me gain a better appreciation for the art. Since my childhood, I have been practicing the traditional way of paper marbling with a modern approach. Until recently I used natural earth-based pigments and natural solutions almost exclusively. Upon moving to New York, I began experimenting with materials such as acrylic and enamel paints, chemical solvents and fire. This new approach has resulted in a wider variety of effects and compositions. I am highly motivated to use my artistic practice as a vehicle for both personal and collective transmutation, purification, and catharsis. The archetypal forms that emerge in my artworks are a reflection of my perspective of the infinite well of human potential. Similar to how water serves a source for all organic life, I believe that art also serves as a wellspring for shared healing, growth, and sustained connection.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The perfect day for first time visitors would start with taking them to Moma or Met museum, afterwards to have some beer to one of the oldest Irish pub , mc sorleys in east village. Then probably we end up at Nublu which one of the best live music venue in NYC. But all those plans was before Covid-19 .. But we still have Prospect Park and Central Park here in NYC which is still quite beautiful option 🙂
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There is so many people supported me , and believe me on this way. But i guess before everyone i should shout out to my mom and dad for all the love , support and knowledge they have been giving me.
Also my special thanks goes to Alison Pierz (curator), NUBLU Family and Daniel Beauchemin ( Chelsea Frames ).
Studio portrait photos : Dee Wasielewska