Ercan Akbay -1

-Nevertheless, you still never gave up on the fields that you were interested in.
-Yes, expressing in these fields of arts were the most important moments that makes me happy and fills up all my life. The stories and novels I wrote were published, sold, and the audience accepted my various designs. It was expected from me to keep on writing and creating artworks. Consequently, for the past thirty years I’ve managed to keep involving myself with all three fields I was interested in, without any worries on the financial aspect of them.

-May we see some of your earlier works?
-There are only two paintings left from my early days, gouache on paper ‘Nadia’s Last Dance’ and ‘The Flood.’ I wasn’t even able to save photographs of them; I’m quite careless with my possessions. None of the note sheets of songs I wrote, music recordings, sketches, and other memorable have been preserved. My paintings and motifs were especially of no value to me; I would create them anytime I like, and so I just threw them away everywhere.
From the ones I have left in my possession, ‘Nadia’s Last Dance’ is quite a naive piece of work, and I don’t remember the melody or the lyrics of the song that inspired me to paint it. I know, thanks to my base-guitar player friend whom I made and played music with at the time that we used to play this song along with others at the attic where we do our rehearsals. Yet, due to the lack of recording opportunities we had at the time, it simply vanished...
We should be regardless thankful that we stand living, in a world where there are lives that vanish easily everyday.
As for ‘The Flood,’ due to be having recorded for my music album recordings, it has been preserved. Both paintings were later turned into covers for my two books published in 1997, with quite an unexpected ending...

the flood - 50X35cm - gouache on paper


-May you please introduce yourself, starting from your childhood?
-I was born in Istanbul in 1959. I spent my childhood in one of the most beautiful parts of the City, Nisantasi, and in my opinion, during the happiest period of the world- the 60s and the 70s. I remember the times back when Istanbul’s population was 800.000, ghettoes were rare, and seldom a car seen on the streets, and human actually lived like a human being…
After elementary school, and victorious grades on admittance exams, I picked Kadikoy Maarif College to start high-school years. It must be related with the genes inherited by my grandfather, who was the member of an old Istanbulian family and a well-respected naval officer, and that’s why I’m an absolute sea-lover; I would not want to live in a without a sea nearby. For this reason, Maarif College by the seashore was perfect to me, and due to our house being on the European side of the City, I was a boarding student at the school. That was perfect, too. Being away from home provided me with the freedom to shape my life for the better...
I started to work right after my college years, on the very first day of university in the BA School of Istanbul University. October 1978... After working in a tourism company, and then in a carpet store for tourists, a school friend and me ended up setting up our first company together in 1983. Since then, I’ve been involved with many jobs ranging from electronics, jazz-club management, playing in a rock band, recording music at studios, stock-market biz, music producing, filming, real estate investment, old building restoration and many more along with the same lines. I’ve set up companies, traded at several markets, and basically done anything I possibly could to survive in life.
As a multi-tasking hyperactive man who thoroughly enjoys being involved with multiple things at once, I never in my life have moved away from music, literature and painting: in every phase of my life I was simultaneously involved with art. Yet there was never been a point where I’d become a professional artist or lived as one. To me, the money made from selling a song, a painting or a story was as if some sort of foreign currency; money to be spent only for things like having fun with friends or traveling... To do art for a living, -or to be an artist solely to get by- was somehow a restriction on the dreams I freely had; and due to this reason that I’d not even attempted to become a professional artist.

-However cliché this may sound, how did it all start in your life, in regards to painting?
-Unless my memory fails me, the first ‘attempt in art’ I ever made was the year I consider to be the beginning of my musical phase in 1976. If you consider my charcoal sketches and doodles on the corners of the straw-colored pages of my lyrics and poetry as artworks, that is... When I was seventeen, the ‘Beat Generation’ writers and poets of that era inspired me to write songs. I was accompanying these songs in which I expressed the gloomy dark shades of my inner world with the guitar that I learned how to play as a child. After my college years, I came to a peak point of my six years long music passion -grown through my university years individually and later on in various music bands- and that is when, in the early 1980s, I began to paint on these songs. I don’t know why, I just ended up starting this process...
I haven’t had any experience with making a painting, except for the art lessons at the school, and not only did I lack technical knowledge, besides, my knowledge on the history of fine arts was as limited as the knowledge I had upon life. Until then, I had only drawn illustrations and caricatures for the underground magazine we had created in the study hall of my boarding school; that’s how my passion for painting and drawing had started. As a kid with an unusual sense of humor, for many years I had drawn scrawl illustrations of many self-created comic book characters and their adventures on these newspapers and magazines.
I must admit that the sketches that I do on canvas now are not much different than those...

Nadia’s last dance - 50X35 cm - gouache on paper

-When did you have your first art exhibition?
-My first works were to be displayed in 1987 with the initiative of an art collector, attorney in law, Mr. Necdet Semizoglu. Somehow I’ve kept one of the single-color-print invitation cards; it has that B&W painting you are holding in your hand on it; I’d drawn it on a cardboard first and carved with a utility knife:

Mr. Semizoglu, may his soul rest in piece, was the father of a friend of mine. He was an art lover who has many connections with the artists in Istanbul. He used to admire my paintings and wanted for them to be put on the market for everyone. Together, we would visit workshops of his artist friends in Asmalýmescit. After witnessing several confusing conversations on Art with words I didn’t know the meaning of, I asked him why people from this world had such conversations. “Criticism of artist’s works in academic circles only finds value with a complex language,” he answered me. “The paintings themselves don’t need to be complex.” According to him, my paintings, made without using any traditional painting techniques, were genuine and appealing. That is why they had to be exhibited.
There is not any single work left from the now non-existent small gallery, not because they were all sold, but because I have given most of them to friends as gifts.