Looking at one of Murat Palta’s paintings, you would probably notice the precision of his Ottoman Miniature style first. But try to get closer, please. Clo-ser… Don’t you recognize this woman in yellow surrounded by dead men? What about these four fine gentlemen dressed in white and beating the hell out of an unfortunate soul? Or this weirdo wearing a black mask?
At first, it may seem hard to conciliate the noble figurative art of Ottoman Miniature with the main patterns of the “vulgar” popculture; some people could even scent something blasphemous about this mix of genres. But it is into this vivid dynamic that Murat Palta’s work is rooted: by recreating popculture references in the style of Ottoman Miniatures, his art defies the physical and temporal uniformity of cultures. To paraphrase his own words, « I like the part when they (the audience) take a look and they start laughing as they get closer »: this is indeed the positive effect produced by an art that questions modern and past myths.
We had the chance to interview the young Turkish painter: he told us about his creative process, his inspirations and his visions of what art is in a country where the political context only gets more difficult.
Shall we play a game? Try and guess the films from which the scenes are from (the answers are at the end of the article).
1) Hey Murat ! Thanks a lot for answering our questions. First, could you present yourself?
I am an Istanbul based illustrator who enjoys movies, music, video games, books and mythology and has a passion of creating links in between in his art. I also have a weird interest in unintentional kistch objects.
2) How did you get the idea of recreating or mixing famous cinema scenes with the Ottoman Miniature style? Why this style specifically ?
Honestly, I used to get to find an answer for that question for a while, but I believe it was just a story to fill it up. In short, it must be creativity. Just like how people create other things in terms of art. However, I have a more tangible answer for the style.
Today what we call Miniature art once was called ‘tasvir’ inside those soils back in time. It would be very accurate to translate this word as illumination. So basically, miniature art was the way of understanding illustration art of its age. So I wanted to move from that take to create a blend as an illustrator.
3) How do you choose what to represent?
I tend to look for parts to render to oriental view. It can be related to characters, scenes or the general atmosphere. If any of those work, I decide to work on.
4) Why do you think the movie scenes that you paint work so well in a form that is historically far away from them?
It is us who think that they are historically far away. Because we know what they are about. We have already seen the movies or read the books. There are people who thought they were historical illustrations until it was explained. That’s the trick for me. I try my best to make them look historical. As you get closer, you see that there’s totally another story lies behind. I love that the element of surprise part. To make that look, I am in a constant search for medieval illuminations.
5) Did your work change the way you watch movies now, or how you appreciate Ottoman Miniatures?
I never watch movies for that intention. It kills the fun. I start thinking on that afterwards. On the other hand, I had the chance to be gripped by miniature art far better. The more I work the brighter parts I come across.
6) What are the reactions towards your art?
People love it! I hardly came across negative views. I like the part when they take a look and they start laughing as they get closer.
7) Does the political context in Turkey influences your work?
Unfortunately, yes. I try my best to avoid from what’s going on but, one simple tap on your phone makes it impossible. A sudden dark smoke comes from your screen and leaves your mind cloudy. This also effects how I work. It distracts my focus. I recieve lots of questions about whether I’d create something about the current political events in Turkey but, I also try to aviod from that. Yes, we’re going through hard times but creating an art related to that just for the sake of it wouldn’t be honest. Especially when you consider I am not that kind of artist. Because I don’t have a talent to point out this kind of things in art. However, there’s an ocular cultural decay, which is inevitable not to make any sound. As a person who has a deep passion about cultures and history, that makes me sad. So, we might see in this topic in my art soon.
8) Do you think pop culture (often considered vulgar) will one day acquire an artistic status as strong as the Ottoman style itself for example?
I cannot know but, considering the fact that pop culture has no intentions for that, it looks less likely to be. Ottoman miniature art, on the opposite, used to be a type of art for literate people of its time. Pop culture can be the subject, not the art itself. But then again, I cannot know that.
9) What’s next for you?
Traditional art in Turkey is like another treasure. As I dig in, I stumble upon various elements. So I also try to create in different fields of Turkish traditional art.
1) Mecanical Orange
5) The GodFather