Hi Mevlana! Can you tell me about yourself? Where are you from, and where are you based now?
My name is Mevlana and I was born in Cologne, Germany. When I was three years old we moved to a very small village in the middle of a forest. I lived there until I finished school and moved to Düsseldorf to study at the art academy. Now I’m based in Düsseldorf, where my studio is located.
When did you first become interested in making art?
My father is an artist, so I grew up with art and it was always something natural to me. His studio is a separated house in the garden. As a kid it was a fascinating place for me to play and be around. When I was in senior class, all this led to the decision to study art and philosophy, to become a teacher.
When did you decide to pursue it seriously?
After the first two years at the art academy, I found out that making art was most important for me, and I didn’t want to become a teacher. At that point I stopped the teaching and philosophy studies to focus completely on art.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
As a child I always thought being an ocean-biologist would be the real deal, or a job where you work with snakes…
Can you tell me about your work?
At the art academy I started as a sculptor. Working with different materials, and combining them fascinated me. After the first year I also started using video as a medium because I liked the possibilities to compose a picture and tell a story. For the rest of my time at art school, I worked on combining those two mediums. After my degree I developed the wooden reliefs because they provided the possibility to create a composition, tell a story, and work with different materials in a sculptural way.
The ideas for my works are all based on the feeling of longing for a place to escape the commitments and responsibilities of today’s society. At the same time the romantic idea of a curative refuge in nature is obsolescent and is no real solution. This tragic circumstance is reflected in the selection of materials I use for my work. The tropical landscapes I create are made out of OSB and plywood, materials which consist of sawdust, glue, and chipped wood.
You often use inexpensive materials such as OSB and plywood that is intricately cut and painted. When did you start working with this medium?
When I started working on my reliefs, I used materials like MDF, plywood, or OSB because I knew them from the construction of film sets that I had done before. After a while — and a lot of experiments, and sometimes by accident — I found out new ways and tools to modify the surface of the different materials. Over time I realized that the material had become part of the underlying concept of my work. I often do things because of a gut feeling, and after a while everything comes together and makes sense.
What do you like most about your chosen medium?
Its versatility, using it like a canvas with different kind of colors, cutting and shaping it, and combining all that in one process.
What tool or object do you enjoy working with the most in the studio?
Oh, I like all of them. I have a bit of a fetish for high quality tools, and I put most of my money into them. Maybe the hidden star of my studio is the vacuum cleaner; it looks a little bit like a yellow robot and keeps me healthy.
What is your studio space like?
My studio is located in a big industrial building. It is a bright room with big windows. I have around 30 sq. meters filled with my machines and tools. It is something between a carpenter’s workshop and a classical painter’s studio.
What do you find most challenging or daunting about pursuing art, whether creatively or professionally?
To deal with my doubts. On the one hand they are important to develop my work, and I gain the best ideas out of a trial and error process, but on the other hand they have the potential to slow me down, demotivate, and destroy. It is probably the most challenging part of my work to find a good way in the middle.
Are you currently preparing for any exhibitions or projects?
I’m currently working toward my solo-show at Annarumma gallery in Naples next spring.
+ + +