A Journey with Baysan Yüksel into the Magic Stories of Our Childhood

Baysan Yüksel is a deep, sensitive artist who cares about what is beyond the immediately visible, who is mesmerized with the immaculate creativity of childhood, and passionate about books. With Baysan we have found ourselves in a conversation that touches our souls, that enriches us, full of hope and melancholy at the same time.

On your blog you say “I came into this world to tell stories. My mission is as simple as that but it hurts”. Why? Although you say so, your works are very colorful and contain a child-like joy. How do you explain this dilemma?

The source of pain is to feel these stories with a high degree of empathy. Then the pain of the transfer process itself comes into the picture. If you dive into the depths of the child-like joy in my works, what I’m talking about can be understood more easily. Being a human is in itself contradictory and life is the entirety of struggling with them. Children are like this too. when we become adults, we think that children are very joyful, carefree and that they have wonderful times in their colorful inner worlds; childhood is nothing like that; its depths contain a very real wisdom of life. I still remember how I felt as a child; not that I feel the same way today, but perhaps because I can remember it, things are the way they are for me.

Baysan Yüksel, Scorpio, 2014

Your works reveal your admiration for children’s paintings. What would you like to say about it? When and how did you start painting? do you ever revisit the things you painted in your childhood?

Unfortunately, paintings from my childhood disappeared while we move; I was very upset about it as a child and I still get upset about it from time to time. There are very few paintings my family keeps; I sometimes look at them, not as often as I used to though. They seem funny; some of them are very strange from a creative point of view as well. On the other hand, I actuall started painting by accident. Since I was conscious I constantly wrote or told stories, did drawings and collages. I thought that painting was something you were supposed to learn at a training course or something, like sports or dance; but at the end of the day it was someting that I was already doing. when I was little I had these naive aspects. I had no idea about the order and the rules in the world; I thought we could learn everything. But it turned out we wanted to learn the things we had interest in and talent for. I’m particularly fond of the paintings of hildren in their pree-school years. They have minimal filters and they are incredibly talented. At school and in any form of education, when viewpoints constraining creativity and all the compulsory things come into play, even a very creative individual can be turned into nothig. What could happen if there were no contraints, I wonder!

In the tale-like worlds you create in your art we often encounter animals. Are you interested in their mythological or symbolic meanings in literature, or are more subjective preferences at play?

Since I was little I am deeply interested in insects, amphibia and reptiles. I spent my childhood at the campus of Uludağ University. That’s why I had a slightly different childhood and some animals had a deep impact on it. I remember having brought home owls, porcupines, snakes to feed them. We never kept them for longer than a day. Not to disrupt its natural cycle. We used to visit the bears being trained for adaptation to natural habitat. We used to watch the deer, pigs, rabbits. We always were in a world close to animals. Wherever we went there alway were animals and were not distant from people. In my mother’s and grandmother’s memories also featured human-animal relationships and adventures, it felt like magic. I also dream about certain animals like lions and wolves. Then I become interested in their archetypal meanings. While bringing all these things into the paintings, personal, symbolic, mythological and archetypcal meanings become intermingled and create a whole.

Baysan Yüksel, The Arrival of the Wolf, 2013

Do you imagine a story first and then illustrate it, or do you directly start drawing and let the story write itself?

Both can happen; the two sometimes intermingle.

Who are the artists that influence you and interest you? How is your relationship with literature? Which poets and authors are you inspired from?

I can find inspiration in any artistic field. I just look for spirit and sincerity. My inspirations in visual arts differ from time to time. Cy Twombly is one of the permanent ones though. This year I discovered Grayson Perry’s work and I loved it. I can say that literature is the artistic field that inspires me the most. Because I love words and their games. I love stories told with intelligence, with games. I haven’t been reading poetry for a long time. The last was Rimbaud five years ago, whom I got back to this year for an exhibition. I prefer reading fiction. Some writers’ worlds take me in; then I want to go and read all of their books immediately.Philip K. Dick, Richard Brautigan, Jonathan Safran Foer, Michael Ende, Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman are the first ones I can think of. The latest Kerascoet and Fabien Vehlmann comic I read, Beautiful Darkness was incredibly inspiring in this sense. I have recently begun to discover the classics too. I used to get bored in the past; both in music and literature, I began to enjoy both. It seems my age for it has come!

Baysan Yüksel, The End of an Era, 2013

If you could make the world a better place, which problem would you address first?

This is such a hard question! I wish we all got to know ourselves first ( this is the hardest); after that, together we could solve any problem.

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