Kaya Mar interviewed by Zia Fernandez Ibarreche
ZFI Hello Kaya, thank you very much for welcoming me in your studio and for accepting being interviewed. I met you 5 years ago through another art project: ”Save our Placards” leaded by Guy Atkins. After all this time two weeks ago I bumped into you at the Turkish Art and Culture festival on Clissold park. Tell us about the paintings of Erdogan, current President of Turkey, and this cultural event?
KM The first time I heard about the event was through a friend of mine who arranged the event, a journalist colleague of mine who asked me; “can you bring some of the Turkish paintings to the festival?” So, I decided to take some of the paintings that portrait the leaders of America, China, Russia, and the UK. People like satire so it made my day. Only one Turkish nationalist was not happy because I portrayed Erdogan as a corrupt man and he did not like it. The second one was an English nationalist because I portrayed Nigel Farage as a Fascist and he did not like it, this I am used to.
ZFI So you are used to confront criticism? When criticism becomes confrontational, what do you say to the people that criticize your work?
They have all the right to criticize; at the end of the day, when you do something it does not go very well in both sides. Not everybody loves you, some people hate you. They send text messages, emails, phone calls saying that they will kill me, etc. I am used to it and I don’t care because if you buy into this you cannot do your job. Get away with it.
ZFI Would you like to say something to these people in general?
KM Don’t waste your time but it will be very good for my wife to not have funeral expenses, whatever you do to me. That way it is good. I am just living extra days I am almost an old man. I am not going to give up my life for a future of which there is not much left. You cannot change me.
ZFI What painting was it that they threatened to take you to court?
KM “The Corruption” painting featuring Erdogan the president of Turkey. They sent me a letter from Turkey to attend a hearing in Turkey, I cannot go because this is not a Court, it is the Puppet Court because there is no justice. Whoever is against him, for whatever reason, is lost.
ZFI We were supposed to meet last week but you cancelled because you were stranded in Hamburg? Did you go to the demo outside the G20 summit?
You cannot go close to the summit area so I wanted to blend with the demonstrators.
ZFI Did you take any painting with you?
I could not do it because was it all was very sudden and the logistics side of it was not in place.
ZFI If you could have taken some paintings with you, which one would those be?
KM If I could I would have taken the paintings of; Merkel and Trump together, second one Erdogan, and the third one Putin. A triptych of the fascists leaders.
ZFI Tell us about you?
KM I have been living in the UK for the last 41 years and do not have much contact in these 41 years with Turkey. I have been there only 9 days altogether in this time. I hold British passport but I am international. I travel a lot, wherever I go I am at home. I do not belong to anybody or any country. I don’t give a damn for national identity, it leads you to nationalism and you have to pretend that you are better than other people from other nationalities. It is like a snowball. Everyone is a human being. This proves me right, everyone has the same problems, need a job to get food, a roof over the head and resources to gain education. Everyone is the same.
When you travel and see the world you learn that everyone is the same, have the same worries and feel the same emotions. Only language separate us and now that barrier is gone as nowadays everyone speaks English.
ZFI The subject of your paintings is pure satire. You represent politicians naked. How did you come up with the idea?
KM Where does my satire come from? The way I see satire. Satire is a product of anger, feeling betrayed, feeling hatred, all together.
The biggest weapon against the injustice is satire. They hate satire because satire is everything and people love satire. I portrayed them naked without clothes, because clothes mean power. I tell publicly that they are nothing, clothes represent power, they are the Kings without the clothes. What is left is just the person.
They are a piece of flesh, you ridicule them. I use Satire as a weapon to attack them, to take revenge for the people. And it is a very simple way to be understood by everybody; whether you are Chinese, Japanese, American, Spanish, everyone understands what I say. Newspapers print the pictures around the world. If you go to my website, you can see that the same pictures are published all over the world. Very rarely I go to the events the press asks me to go to. They come to the house to photograph the paintings in my studio. Newspapers take pictures in my studio or they ask me to go to the events and conferences because everybody understands my work. They think: “Yes! This is how we see them!”
ZFI Today we are going through Brexit and the Refugee crisis. How are you living these two events? What are your views?
KM Brexit is the English way to commit suicide. If it becomes an insignificant island, economically we go down, and the UK’s international power is already finish anyway. The are destroying the future of our youngsters. The present that in a little island. imagine that part of a 500 million of western civilization, imagine what do you get.
The English nationalist are against Europe. I have lived for 41 years in this country and know that half of the country hates foreigners, especially European migrants, because deep inside they know that Germans and French are better than them. Still with the mind of the Empire, they still have not come out of that closet. It is a suicide but when you are a nationalist you can’t see anything else, they only listen to the eco of their own voice. Because when they go to the pub they can say how right they are. They do not care if they become poorer.
ZFI The outcome of the Referendum seems to reflect the vote of people of certain age, elderly people.
KM Not only elderly people but the working classes as well. Because people come from oversees and take their jobs. Because the people had not access to education, they lack education for them to find a job that is not manual work. They are destined to be jobless.
Brexit is hatred of the other, I don’t want you so I come to my closet. We are living a contradiction, on the one hand we are a little island (little Britain) and on the other hand we are also the Empire. Because in the day three, after a few beers they feel they can create the Empire again.
The Refugee crisis is of their own making, they go around the world the wreck everywhere through wars or economic manipulation and then people come here, you cannot stop it. Before they went to the Iraq war, there was not Refugee crisis. You plant the seeds of war and you harvest it.
ZFI Basically, because we are living a contradiction, on the one hand our governments sponsor the wars. We attack them. On the other hand, we help them.
KM The Refugee crisis is the product of the government’s own actions and they have to pay the prize. They can put a wall, shoot them in the sea to stop them from coming to Europe.
The Iraq war is different from the Syrian war. Erdogan, president of Turkey, started the Syrian war. He created the Ottoman Empire, the Sunni empire with the help of the money from Qatar and south Arabia. They created ISIS, now 5 million people are coming to Turkey. That is the prize to pay.
Refugees in Turkey live in desperate conditions. They say that they are helping the Refugees but this is a pack of lies. Then you have the smugglers that are getting paid thousands of pounds, they put you in a little boat and if you die in the sea nobody cares. Everyone profits from this war. They dehumanized the Refugees. You go there, you destroy their countries and the refugees. Now they are coming to you and now you do not want them. You think that you can pick and choose. If you destroy people, they will destroy you somehow.
ZFI The title of the book I am writing is” Great Curatorial Interventions”. your work does interest me a lot, but as I mention before what I really like of your practice is not only the subject of the work, but the fact that you take your oil paintings to the demos and this is how you exhibit those paintings. You become the stencil, carrying the paintings with you. Can you tell me when was the first time that you took a painting to a demo and why did you do it? and why you kept doing it?
KM At first, I took the painting to the newspapers but I was told that the painting was too strong, too radical. It is not goody goody. Because this was a newspaper for families and I was showing a naked politician.
I then decided to go with the public, on behalf of the public, showing the painting. This is how you get to be seen. Do something that everyone will see. Show a light in the darkness. Show a mirror to the person. I went to a protest during the Chilcot enquiry, the painting was a portrait of Tony Blair. Blair is covered in blood. The background is all destroyed and his genitals are covered with the America flag. He wears a medallion with the face of George Bush.
From there, from that time, the press knows me and they come here to take pictures or they call me to tell me where to go. I take the pictures where they fit the story, to the Parliament, to Downing Street.
This is because I am a story teller, I cannot tell a story with text, but I can tell a story with my paintings. I don’t censor myself. Television shows do due to Ofcom. They have to do so and I don’t. For example, a filmmaker of the documentary “History of Brexit” on Netflix showed only two paintings but originally there were five paintings.
The easiest way to see my pictures is to type on google toolbar “Kaya Mar Artist” and they all come out. This is the best way to see my pictures.
ZFI What would be an event that you wanted to attend with a painting but you couldn’t?
During the G20 summit, the press came here and they photograph the painting on the Norther Ireland.
ZFI Is there any Artist that inspires you? It does not have to be a visual artist, it could be a writer?
Jose Samarago, Kafka, Gunter Grass, Noam Chomsky. I read since was a little boy, I learn from everyone. I read left and right leaning books. If you want to understand you need to read everything. You learn until you die.
It is very difficult to discuss things with people who only know one thing. At the moment, even though I am a left leaning person, I find very difficult to debate with left leaning people as they all repeat the same things like parrots. As they say in America compartmental knowledge will shape your personality.
ZFI What do you consider a great curatorial intervention?
The best is going to a protest, your work will be seen by hundreds of thousands of people, if you want to convey your message. I try to put the people views on canvas, giving voice to the people. You are an artist, people expect you to talk on behalf of them. Always working on behalf of the people and on behalf of the truth. Never ever censor yourself because someone might get upset for this or that. Fight and learn until you die. If you do not fight against injustice you are inhuman. Everyone has to do a little bit for a better world. If you don’t do that you might as well go vegetative, go to sleep.
Thank you for reading
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