First of all, thank you for sharing your work, that created a tremendous impression in the world and that you gave life to the famous painting of Picasso by Denim fabrics with a joint effort of your spouse Kübra Yılmaz, with TFF readers before being exhibited at the Newyork Museum of Modern Art (MoMa).
We have learned that you have predominantly shouldered the burden of this work, which has emerged as a Denim Artifact. Could you please tell us how this idea coming up with a denim work came out?
The idea of converting denim fabrics into artistic work was actually Giray’s idea. Related to his occupation, in which he is constantly intertwined with denim fabrics, so he wanted to interpret denim in other visual forms and disciplines.
The richness of the natural effects, coming out with the structure of denim fabric and the various washing techniques, already embody all sorts of different techniques that can be created with a brush stroke. We wanted to transfer this richness to our own denim-canvas and obtain a natural picture as if is an oil painting. Like this painting, we re-interpreted the paintings of other famous painters with different denim fabrics. At the same time, we have several works intertwined with different installations and ceramics made of denim.
Why did you choose Picasso’s Algerian Women’s Table for this Denim Artifact? Was there any special reason?
All of Picasso’s works are very crucial to us. In addition, Picasso markedly identified the blue color in his work prior to cubist understanding. He used this color to express his strongest and saddest feelings. In the years known as the Blue Period, you can see every shade of blue ranging from dark to light. Blue was the most important color for him.
That’s why we’re getting a little closer to him in preference. Algerian women are not a blue period work. However, it carries the traces. In addition to this work, we are trying to interpret his different paintings with denim fabrics. We are currently performing the Guernica. But the reason why we preferred the Algerian women first was to draw attention to the social positioning of women and the values that are attributed to her. Also, Algerian Women was his best-known painting that was sold with the highest price of its period in 2015. It is also a work that contains different shades of blue. That’s why we reinterpreted the painting with our own style of art.
Let’s talk a little bit about the technical side of the artifact. What kind of weaving method did you use, and how did you bring these pieces together?
First of all, we made hand-knittings after selecting the types and fibers of the fabrics we would be using with Giray. We knitted some of them on hand looms and used 8 different weaving types. After this processing stage, we made the artifact in sketches and washing. We used various bleaches. We later applied them in our workshop with some dipping technique and then performed some local applications in the assembly process. Finally, we started to combine the parts on the surface with a special adhesive. This stage is very demanding and requires a lot of attention.
What was the most challenging and exhausting part for you?
The hardest part of this artifact, which consisted of about 3500 pieces, was to cut these pieces and stick them carefully in its rightest position. Because constantly working on a table and looking at a fixed point weakens your vision. So I was trying to look at another area every hour and not to think about the painting.
Some of the days we were working for about 8 hours. After such intense days, we were careful not to work in the latter days. Because, in local applications, we could face the negative effects of chemical bleaches. In addition, if you do not cut the scissor-crucial parts properly, you can break the whole. And the table can lose all its meaning. SO, you can think of it as a puzzle. Every piece should fit in rightly. But in spite of all these difficulties, I cannot describe my pleasure şn the finished process, it is priceless.
Finally, can you tell us about the comments you received from the industry and the design community for the ‘Denim Form’ of Algerian Women?
First of all, this work was a work that created excitement for every art enthusiast. Because seeing such an important work that belongs to a valuable artist, made from denim fabric, has led to the discovery of various pleasures among people. In particular, it had a different effect on people in the denim sector.
We saw the priceless facial expression of every person who saw our work. It was just confusion and fascination. Seeing such reactions for such an amazing labor was worth to see.
First of all, I would love to clarify that we will be exhibiting the works of Algerian Women in Istanbul and later in the New York Museum of Modern Art ‘’ MoMa ‘’ which we received an invitation even if the date is not certain.
AHMET GIRAY YILMAZ
What does the concept of design mean to you? How does a qualified designer brought up and what qualifications does he suppose to hold?
The design is a journey to the unknown, says Faruk Malhan. Absolutely true. That’s exactly where he grows. It is an adventure in which its beginning and end are unclear. It contains everything about a human being. Sometimes it overstrains you. It makes you feel like a bottomless pit full of indiscipline. You can disappear at any moment or get lost in it. However, there is an undeniable fact that it will always make you happy no matter what it is. And this journey allows you to start every new day with mystical stories. Consequently, it expresses an enthusiastic passion for me. A passion like the burning of the sun.
The discipline of design which exists under the roof of art can be revealed within the very nature of the designer candidate after long years. There is a saying “A Life Is Not Enough for Art.” I will need years to say I am doing this job deservedly. For me, the limits of human life are not sufficient to actualize a sophisticated art unless he is very lucky and has not left the roof of art. It will take you to say ‘’Now I’m really a full-fledged artist’’ for 60 or 70 years to come. Of course, this is a philosophy taught to me by my masters and art disciplines. For others, this thought may not be accepted as it is. Considering the fact that this has already become the basis of modern art. Interrogating the unacceptable. In this context, the designer walks a long path as he grows up. In order to reach the conclusion, he/she has to work hard and has a high level of professional knowledge. The most important of these is to expertise the knowledge of ‘Light and Shadow’ techniques.
You work as a designer in Calık Denim. Was your main objective was to densify on the Denim field since the very beginning?
My entrance into the design may sound like a cliche story of every known designer, but I also started my journey at a very young age for drawing and designing. Since I said this is relational to human’s capability, every child dreams and wants these dreams to come true. The result is usually shaped by what our life cycle is offering to us and what we prefer. Sometimes you may find himself in your own canvas or in the face of an unexpected turn out. At a moment like that, I remember I was standing still, looking at Jean pants washing in front of a big drum. That was my canvas. Since then I have continued to apply my brush on denim fabric as I please. In this adventure, Calık Denim, a global brand, has a great influence. Because it is the one of the indispensables to learn this job. In this sense, I can say that I was lucky enough. Additionally, denim carries a great mystery in itself. If you are an adventure-lover, it will give you what you want.
So to speak, you’re kneading the denim fabric like a dough in your hand, putting it into shape and marking very successful Denim designs? What does the fabric mean to you? What do you pay attention to when selecting your fabrics?
Denim fabric is a living structure. It carries your experiences on a jacket you wear. It reflects your sorrow and joy at the same time. You can see these details if you case it out carefully. Therefore it is easier to shape it. Of course, it also contains several elements of aggressiveness. There’s a pretty much of it. As someone who has worked with other fabrics from time to time, I’ve observed this feature carefully. I can say that fabrics other than denim have a certain kind of spirit but the place of denim should be differentiated denim. It can take any form, it is transitivized. Denim is also the master of light and shadow. It contains all the value-date of blue ranging from dark blue to off-white. This may open new doors for you as sometimes it may turn them off. This power is hidden in the tip of your brush.
The cover of this issue of our journal came out of your hands. With a joint effort of your spouse Kubra Yilmaz, you have re-created the work of world-famous painter Pablo Picasso’s LesFemmesd’Alger (Algerian Women) in a 6-month period by combining more than 3500 Denim pieces, using 8 different types of hand-woven. How did this idea occur to you?
What kind of world does this unique artifact, which emerged with a 6-month intensive work belong to?
It is my principle to look at my surrounding with an artistic eye. I’m trying to live this acquisition within me. Then I see myself passing through a catharsis phase. For example, I try to interpret the shapes of what I see around me as I pass by and try to deal with it from different angles. In this way, I aim to strengthen my visual and design skills. Because design is a concept that needs to be sophisticated. She doesn’t like uniformity. In this context, I try to make novelties and innovations in my work almost in every coming period. The idea of making denim artifacts is the result of such a long and tiresome process. We wanted to evoke different taste and desires by taking Denim Fabric out of its known form. But we saw that the greatest pleasure also exists in ourselves. After all, the work you perform must make you happy. Kübra and I started out this journey with this desire of seeking this pleasure. We always wanted to perform one of the works of Pablo Picasso, which we admired the most. In 2015, the Algerian Women (Version O) table changed hands to $ 179.3 million, breaking the auction record by Christie’s auction company. In this period, we decided to Denim Fabric form of the Algerian Women. Our main decision was to examine the place and problems of modern women in society. Thereby, this work became our preference. Before we started, we made a detailed analysis of the philosophy of the work.
It is a difficult task to reflect on the fabric the hidden meanings and intentions in the painting. So the selection of the right fabric was crucial to us. For example, the fabric selection similar to the one in the head of the protagonist required a lot of attention. After a lot of thinking, we decided to use denim fabric woven from the 8-knitted sateen. In parallel, to this measurement, we also handed the remaining part like that. (3/1 Z – 2/1 Z – 8 knitted Sateen – 5 knitted Sateen – 1/1 Cloth Foot – Basket Weave – Broken Twill And Cross Twill).
After the weaving process was completed, finishing was done according to the spirit of the painting. Fabrics were processed in various finishes by examining softer and touching areas and harder-looking visuals in the painting.
After this processing, in order to make the color separations of the fabric as well as the light and shade transitions, we decolorized the fabrics with various bleaches in such a way that the fabrics were divided into certain proportions. This is a very long and difficult process. Because you must follow each fabric carefully and bleach it accordingly to match the previous and next fabrics.
After the bleaching process, we drew the sketch of the work as a draft on a denim floor. And we cut the fabrics we had previously determined by hand, looking at the digital image of the work. We applied special glues to the back of it. After all these steps were completed, we performed the final checks and cleaning.
What does technology, design, and sustainability mean for you and the industry?
Technology is absolutely a must-have for our main branch of art. Especially today, the majority of our business is technology-oriented. For example, in order to make a design visible and desirable, we need to reflect our works on digital platforms. We used to make these reflections with pen and paper before. However, the speed of the work plays an important role in the developing world as well as the quality of work. Therefore, digital media is accelerating our business. In addition, it can also facilitate and upskills different conveniences and various aesthetic views. But I would like to point out that after the light and shadow techniques, which is the vantage point of everything visually for art, a real pen and paper dominance comes after such skills. Without these, you will be inadequate in the digital environment. Of course, if you complete these preliminary stages correctly, the world of digital design will open its doors for you. For this reason, I also use various CAD programs in addition to manual shaping techniques. The most popular graphics software program in the world is currently AdobePhotoshop and AdobeIllustrator. I’ve been a photoshop user for about 18 years. I also use 8 different programs. And I’m getting training in various periods to improve the programs I’m already using. Finally, I received the training of the new generation 3D Fashion simulation program; Marvelous and Clo 3d Programs. I additionally use Graphic Tablet. In other words, technology refers to learning innovation for me.