"The past can only inspire us"

The young, dynamic artist Emry Demirci (1989) was born in Genk (Belgium). As a self-taught man, he perfected himself in painting. His portraits are realistic, almost photographic approaches to persons from the past and present with which he feels connected because of their contribution to art and history. In every composition he succeeds in evoking a mystical, nostalgic atmosphere that reconciles uninhibited worlds and eras.


Emry Demirci always felt the urge to make art. “My parents often wondered where that interest came from. Apparently it was inside me. That became really clear when I met Herman Maes, my teacher and a gifted artist himself. Thanks to our nourishing conversations, he is still a constant in my life and an important factor in my development as an artist. ”


Demirci knew early on what he wanted to make and he had an enormous amount of willpower, only the technique was initially lacking. “I often get asked how I still manage to paint in such detail. It's all about being able to train yourself in patience. Many people want to see the result of their work immediately, but it doesn't work that way. Making good art takes time. By the way, teaching patience will be paid back in time. The acquired agility ensures that you learn to work more efficiently. That's how healthy perfectionism works. Moderation can provide relief. I also think that creating things is a quality that can be linked to the Higher. It is a spiritual activity that brings me closer to myself and thus allows me to develop a higher aesthetic awareness. ”



“When I took classes at the academy, there was enormous interest in my work,” continues the artist. “People were often surprised to ask if I was in my senior year, while I was only a sophomore. Appreciation does a lot to a person, it encourages evolution. I had already been able to work myself up through positive energy in such a way that that extra boost gave me even more power. As a result, I dared to make my work known to a wider audience via social media. The positive feedback from my followers ensures that I keep the batteries charged for new challenges. ”


"Art is much more than studying lines and shapes, it also involves a lot of study content," says Demirci. “We all have a background. I am interested in history, especially the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries. That period with a multitude of inspiring styles is actually a bit of the common thread in my work. Painters that captivate me include Mark Rothko, Salvador Dali, Henri Matisse and William-Adolphe Bouguereau. I also have a passion for art from Istanbul that came about during the same innovative period. During the 16th century, Ottoman Islam gradually abandoned the prohibition of figurative painting and took an example from the Parisian school. Art studies in Paris were encouraged during the 19th century and Ottoman sultans employed court painters of Italian and Russian descent. ”



Demirci himself is fascinated by the work of Fausto Zonaro (1854 - 1929) and Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910). “Zonaro was the very last Ottoman court painter. His work mainly contains landscapes and scenes from everyday life in Istanbul. I painted his portrait twice. Hamdi Bey was the director of the first fine arts academy in Istanbul. His works were groundbreaking for that period, also because he painted portraits of women in Eastern religious scenes. He worked as an orientalist. Orientalists were mostly Europeans, while he himself was of Eastern origin. This was probably due to his education in Paris and because he was also an archaeologist. The era, characters and meticulous work of my examples had a huge impact on my personal evolution. ”



“I don't have the personal ambition to be a bridge builder between East and West, but if my works can do that, I’ll like that. I was born in Europe, but my roots are in the Middle East. My European baggage creates a mix of realism and impressionism in a haze of mysticism. You can see that in my work De Pion. The floor is sleek and European, the mat is oriental ”, explains Demirci. His interest in history is independent of any political or religious belief. “Yet we must not forget that the most beautiful works originated from religion. Christianity, for example, is extremely rich in art and culture. Take the world-famous Ghent Altarpiece by the Van Eyck brothers, for example. It is considered one of the highlights of European culture. As Belgians we can be really proud of that. And what is that polyptych about? About religion. Sometimes I hear that people don't want to visit a church because they are atheists, for example. All respect for their conviction, but remember that in your family tree you will probably meet people who believed. You still share the same background, your history is in your DNA. You shouldn't do anything special with it. Being aware of it and possibly trying to understand it is enough. I think history can only inspire ”, concludes the artist.


June 3 – no. 1060


Interview by Veerle Deknopper