Meriç Hızal is one of the leading sculptors in the art scene of Turkey. She has participated in many applied symposiums and exhibitions at home and abroad. We talked with the award-winner artist, who has been interested in natural stone since the first moments of her career and gave life to her works with conceptual approaches, about her relationship with the material, sources of inspiration and the effect of natural stone on her sculptures.
What is the story behind your inclination towards the art of sculpture?
Meriç Hızal: When I was three or four years old, I met with the sculpture of the sculptor on the facade of the Ziraat Bank building in Baylanköy (this is the name I nicknamed to Karaköy when I was going to dinner at Baylan Patisserie). It was so imposing and it was like always looking at me. Later, when I was living in Edirne, there was the graveyard of Selimiye both ahead of our house and on my way to school. When I started primary school, I would not go to school without touching the motifs on the stones, cypresses and baby cradle reliefs hidden from my mother. It was then that I touched three-dimensional stones for the first time. At that time, my teacher encouraged me to paint, but when I was in the third grade, I came to Ankara. The giant figures of the Victory Monument in Ulus, made by Krippel, were very impressive to me. I was fascinated as I looked up at the “Woman Carrying a Bullet” figure. When I started secondary school, my great-aunt’s stylistic comparison and classification of black-and-white photographs and sculptures in the book “Les Voix Du Silance” by André Malraux, brought from Paris, greatly increased my interest. Later, Hikmet Kayhan, my art history and painting teacher at Ankara Girls’ High School, sealed this idea in me by saying, “You should make a sculpture, you should go and be a student of Şadi Çalık.” And of course, the appreciation and encouragement of my ceramist friend Bingül Başarır in her workshop is also very important… Then I found myself in the Academy in the Sculpture Department.
What are the concepts that shape your works and inspire you? How did these concepts guide the changes in your art over time?
MH: The concepts that inspired my sculptures were primarily philosophical concepts that we talked about and discussed with my eldest son Osman while he was studying systematic philosophy and logic at university. Fire, water, air, earth, duality, time, transformation, sublimation, etc. The visualization of these concepts became simpler and the language of geometry began to come to the fore. In this understanding of form, I always think that Edirne and Istanbul have architectural structures and geometries that have stuck in my memory. Cubes, domes, arches, Bosporus, Arda-Meriç rivers and reflections. On the other hand, at the core of my themes, there is everything that belongs to people, women and children.
How did your relationship with natural stone begin in your art life? What is your perspective on this material as a sculptor?
MH: The ancient architecture, bridge, tower, arch, fountain and tombs of the cities where I was born and grew up were all made of stone. Antique ruins that I collected colored glass in relief pits in the garden of my grandmother’s house in Edirne. The front and sides of the garden oven, and the top of my mother’s dresser. Then I started to travel around Anatolia. The buildings, temples, roads and statues of the ancient world were made of stone. Proponents on Marmara Island, the first marble production; Yesemek in Gaziantep was the first mass-produced basalt sculpture workshop. It seems to me that one cannot be a sculptor without knowing how to work with stone. It is the most permanent and noble sculpture material. It is so diverse and inspiring with its hardness, color, polishing, texture and patterns…
Which natural stones do you use in your sculptures? Are there any obvious quarries that you prefer?
MH: I don’t choose a quarry. I choose the type, color and texture required by the theme for which I will describe the stone material. My understanding of form matches the stone material. However, for some reason, it makes more sense to use the stone of that geology when working anywhere. For this reason, I recommend the surrounding material or the natural stone of the region in applied stone symposiums. Each stone is like a new meeting, conversation, or agreement.
As an artist, what have you found and not found in stone material?
MH: Actually, the difficulty exists for every material. When you leave the sculpture to the public space, to nature, the climatic conditions, the acidity in the air betray the material, the surface becomes porous over time, and even this can cause ruptures. For this reason, very important antique works are taken to the museum and replaced with replicas.
What would you like to say about your current works?
MH: My current works can express themselves only when they exhibit.