"Art is a lifestyle for me"

Karolien Stevens had a conversation with Emry Demirci. During a personal conversation he enthusiastically shares how his work came about and the deeper meaning behind the figurative composition.

As a child, Emry didn't like toys. Instead, drawing, cutting, pasting, tinkering and coloring were his favorite activities. Later he wanted to go to art school, but his parents did not like that. About four years ago he took the step to the academy in Heusden-Zolder. “I then felt that the time had come. "I know what I want, but I am open to the input of others", says Emry. "I have made a lot of progress, but I have a great teacher. I am still learning continuously.”


Art, always art

Emry always starts his creations at home in his studio. When his painting is advanced, he takes it to the academy to exchange ideas and finish it. "I am a real "studio sparrow ", says Emry, "I paint every day and can easily work on it for up to twelve hours at a time."

During the day, Emrys flow of ideas never stops. He is always working in one way or another. "I always have a notebook with me," he says, "so I can write down all my thoughts throughout the day."

Before working out his ideas, Emry always starts with a preliminary study. “Sometimes I just look for things and start to make links. This is how a work is created," he explains, "I can never say, "This has caused me to start painting". I also don't like to have too many criteria imposed on me, because that has an inhibiting effect.”


Out of nowhere

With his participation in the competition, Emry came out of his comfort zone. "I prefer to keep myself in the background, so I have not often participated in exhibitions," he says, "I always have a vision: I start from something I want to express, something I do not get to say - and I leave that speak in my work." Emry does not regard painting as a physical activity, but as a mental work. He sees his hand and brush as tools to express his emotions. “Because as artists we create "out of nothing" and create things, we start from the inner and breathe life into our works," he explains.

Emry immediately had a painting in mind when he heard about the art competition. "The theme really appealed to me," he says. "But the organization behind it, The House of Man (a humanist association), was an extra motivation for me."

Did he make this work in complete freedom?

I always let myself free in my expressions, I am trained in that,” says Emry. When he started this work, he had a number of questions about Islam and society. "How seriously do Muslims take their religion and how much knowledge do they have about it? Those concerns kept me busy. ”


Everything has meaning

Emry's work is quite controversial and shocking to some. "There is a thin line between the expression of a conviction and ridicule," he explains. Although the latter is not for Emry. He was looking for an image that could bring relief. Before coming out with his creation, he did a small survey of his environment. “Some believed that I couldn't send my work out into the world. That just gave me an extra motivation to do it anyway. For me, it is art. And there is a strong message in it. ”

His work creates a recognizable Islam context. And again, because you don't expect naked on a prayer rug. Emry explains how holy such a rug is for convinced Muslims. By putting a naked figure on it, he reduces it to something material. "I received the prayer rug that I painted at a wedding party," says Emry, laughing. “The condition of that rug is that the ground under you is clean. They used to use date leaves for that. ”

The figure on the mat reads a book. Against all odds, it is not the Quran, but the Zend Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrianism, a pre-Islamic religion. The tile floor also has a meaning: Emry consciously chose a checkerboard pattern. According to him, man is a pawn in a game. And unlike the Kaaba, the woman focuses on a blue curtain. "She's focused on ignorance", explains Emry. “She doesn't know what's behind that curtain. So does she know what she is doing? ”

Dear friends, for some art is a hobby: it can be relaxing or even healing. Although that does not apply to Emry. "For me it is a lifestyle, a philosophy and sometimes a weapon." The least you can say about his work is that it has great symbolic value. And that he certainly let his thoughts run free during the painting process.


You can read the original article here.

Storyteller: Karolien Stevens 

Copywriter: Anne-Fleur Kamst 

Photographer: Joke Timmermans