Sculptor Malik Bulut, whose natural stone works have been exhibited at international fairs in Istanbul, New York, Chicago, Baku and Beirut, recently unveiled his newest collection at the Armoni Art Gallery, “Horses & Wings.” We sat down with the artist who aims to bring a contemporary interpretation to… whilst moving along the lines of traditional art, and who draws inspiration from history, mythology, and human stories and talked with him about his current work, what kind of a relationship he has with his material, and how natural stone influences his sculptures.
How did your interest in sculpture and the art
thereof begin? What is your story?
Malik Bulut: When I look back on my childhood, I remember it being one very much intimate with nature. I attribute my foundation in sculpture to my ability both to use tools and to observe nature both of which I had acquired as a child, and without even realizing it. These, I feel, are what lead me to major in sculpture in university.
What concepts inspire your works?
MB: Traffic jams, dilemmas, and the general chaos of urban life are thing at all, theme-wise. Unlike many of my contemporaries, I do not make art that entertains people. Rather, I try to impose contemporary interpretations on stone that are in line with classical tradition. I seek permanence, beauty, and meaning. I gather inspirations primarily from history, human stories, literature, poetry, and mythology.
How would you describe your relationship with
MB: My relationship with my material is very much one about (physical) contact, dialogue, and the notion of moving forward together. The sound(s), dust, and smell emanating from it all give me indescribable pleasure. My approach to carving is simple: I imagine the form that I’ve designed in my mind as living being trapped within a mass. The statue is, in essence, a being awaiting to be rescued and emerge into the light. My material as much fragile and delicate as it is hard. It had lived under the earth for ten thousand years, after. Nevertheless, it is still up to man to transform it into something, anything. When in the hands of human beings, natural stone has the potential to become a cobble sidewalk, a kitchen counter, or a even unique work of art.
We are talking about viewing the statue as a
vehicle for expression. How does the material influence the sculpture, as a
means of expression, do you think?
MB: If we are to look at natural stone sculptures through the language of form, then they are an ancient language that sheds light on past civilisations. I choose to use the stone as a means of expressing myself, in order to leave behind a mark on the future through the feelings, thoughts, and meanings we attribute to the stone today.
What, in your opinion, are the pros and cons of
working with marble?
MB: First and foremost, marble’s fragility forces one to be patient and maintain their composure at all times. You have to be constantly alert throughout the creation process. We have pay attention each and every sound echoing and smell wafting out of both the stone and the tools we’re using. We have to be one with the stone, in other words. Hardness and weight not only increase artisanship, they also have the ability to carry you to eternity and permanence.
Where do you like your marble to come from? Are
there other natural stones that you also like working with beyond marble?
MB: I mostly use Afyon marble and black volcanic serpentine. Every (piece of) stone is a world unto itself. That said, I’ve worked with many a different Turkish stone, for Turkey truly is the paradise of natural stone. I always keep an open mind, to be frank. Each stone is full of surprises, from how its formed, to where it comes from, to what sorts of characteristics it has.
Can you tell us a bit about what you’re
currently working on?
MB: There is a series of figures emerging out of the block of stone. I am currently working away on for an architectural space. I’m also progressing on a few projects and model stages on a more monumental scale. Likewise, I’m preparing to re-sculpt a piece that I originally had the chance to do for a museum in New York, this time for a private collection, and out of a much larger piece of marble. Lastly, I’ve been thinking and working on converting 18-decare open-air studio in Büyükçekmece, Istanbul, into an open-air sculpture museum. This, by far, is my most important project.