A whole that forms on its own: Hare Sürel

We spoke to artist and actress Hare Sürel about her new artistic journey and the world she creates. Sürel’s work will be part of theSeasons – Act Iexhibition set to open at Bant Mag. Mekan on 30 April.

 Interview by Leyla Aksu

Familiar from the screens, successful actor Hare Sürel’s alluring and odd world of drawings is culled from a pursuit that also possesses a few dark corners. Producing organically developing black-and-white and more recently, colourful works showered with human and animal figures as part of her new artistic journey, Sürel brings detailed compositions together with striking expressions that draw the viewer in. We spoke to Sürel about what acting and drawing mean to her, her brand new artistic journey, and the world she is depicting on paper.

When did you first start drawing and getting interested in art? When did you realise it was something you would continue to develop?

Until very recently, there was always a distance between myself and drawing. However, whenever I encountered it, it would always occupy my mind and soul. I had made a rare attempt or two, but I always got the feeling that I was sitting in front of an exam paper and eventually gave up. I had been searching for different forms of expression beyond acting through photography and writing, but I never thought that I would be able to express myself within the world of drawing. Then one day, 2.5 years ago, I doodled some things into this notebook, where I take instantaneous notes, but couldn’t make sense of it; it didn’t look like anything. So that day I gave myself a little experiment; I closed my eyes this time and just started scribbling. When I opened my eyes, I encountered a face that meant something to me. After that day, I tried to distance myself from thoughts of what I will draw, how I might draw it, or what it might mean and to whom, and a new journey began in my notebooks. In time, I found myself keeping busy with art during all of my free time. In addition to notebook pages, I started playing around with different materials on canvas and bigger pieces of paper. About 1-1.5 years later, once I noticed that wherever I was, I still wanted to immediately get home and start drawing, I realised that this wasn’t just a whim. I had never gotten so lost in something before.

How has your education and training in theatre and film affected your relationship with visual arts?

Visual perception and memory changes and transforms with everything we experience through our senses. Theatre and film allowed me to encounter different subjects and styles and to pay attention to and recognise the connection between form and emotion.

As two different forms of expression, what sort of a difference is there between your approach to acting and drawing? What do these two different mediums mean to you?

In acting, despite all personal interpretations and contributions, you become a vehicle for another form of expression that is independent of you. Whether a play or a film, one’s addition to the whole that is to be created is of finite freedom. You enter into a journey where you get lost in and become one with characters, but you have to constantly remember the whole. Yet, despite its boundaries, acting is a very special form of expression for me – one that is limitless within itself and presents the opportunity of capturing something new – and it is a road that I will never tire of. However, painting, by comparison, is a more private journey, one that I can’t quite name. In acting, I am not naked; in painting, I seek to be. There, I want to rid myself of the control that takes hold of me and just lose myself. I want the whole to take shape on its own.

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What pushes you to pick up a pencil and paper? Could you share some of the visuals that have affected you or things that have inspired you?

As a social being, I’m not someone who can express herself very well, which is why I like pencil and paper. I find peace in their accompaniment of me, my days, my feelings… I am curious about people and am even more curious about the feelings that push them to draw. That’s why I am affected by my six year-old niece’s drawings, just as much as anything else. I don’t know what is technically good or beautiful, but I am affected by everything that comes from the heart. I also know that there are plenty of promising artists, who I have not yet met, but I am trying to keep up and learn. Van Gogh and Francisco Goya always come to mind. Goya’s etching “The sleep of reason produces monsters,” Van Gogh’s portraits – especially “La Femme Aux Tambourins” – and his letters had really affected me… To be honest, I don’t have much command over what is generally accepted. Everything that I can feel is an inspiration to me – nature and living creatures more than anything else.

Can you tell us a bit about your creative process? After starting a piece, how do you proceed?

Apart from the notebooks, I mostly start from a photograph I’ve taken or, sometimes, from an old photograph I’ve come across at a second-hand bookstore. After drawing the first lines, I put it aside and allow the flow to take over. I don’t think about a single thing regarding the work as a whole, I usually don’t know what I will do either. In time, a whole forms on its own.

Especially some of your black and white pieces are rich in detail, texture, and shadow, however the pieces form a whole that doesn’t strain the eye. What sort of a balance are you in search of while creating your compositions?

I think I am also searching for my own inner balance, while searching for balance on the page. I don’t want the sense of the whole to overpower the detail or our love of detail to obstruct the whole – and I don’t mean that only in relation to drawing either. Since I don’t prepare any sort of draft or sketch while working and don’t specify the details or the whole beforehand, there can be times when I lose balance on the page. In those times, I start searching for a new balance.

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Your work mostly features humans and animals, and there is also a dark and surreal element to these faces that peer directly out of the frame. Can you talk about this a little? What sort of a world are you drawing?

I’ve only recently embarked on this journey and am trying to discover it myself. I think, maybe I’m drawing my own world. My light and dark sides, what I love, what I fear, what I believe in, and what I’m suspicious of.

What have you been working on recently? What sort projects do you have in the works?

Acting takes up most of my time, but I am still trying things. I am trying to understand brush strokes and colours, and I am in search of things. I want to be bolder, try wider dimensions for the black and white pieces. Sometimes I just stop, and don’t do anything at all. All of sudden, I panic like a child whose toy has been taken away, but I try to accept it and not to force the circumstances. This is something that starts and develops naturally for me, and I hope it always will be.

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