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Interview with contemporary abstract artist Kemal Yazici

4 June - 2020
by Vincent Moleveld


Kemal Yazici is a contemporary abstract artist and painter based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Growing up in a village in Germany’s countryside his access to art was limited. Kemal Yazici's first exposure to art came as a teen, when a friend showed him his paintings. Art remained a hobby alongside his professional career. He worked in the metal industry, later returning to school to earn a degree in architecture. During his studies under the guidance of professor Henner Herrmanns he picked up abstract painting techniques. Again, he was drawn into the world of modern art.

A recurring theme in Yazici’s work is the rhythmic movement of water, inspired by the stunning views from his house on the Bodrum Peninsula on Turkey's southwest coast. He applies rich colours to create art capturing the movement of water as it swirls through light and shadow, reflecting the blue skies above. Dubai’s modernity is a big inspiration too.

You first discovered art when you were 16. Was this a 'wow' moment, or a slow awakening?

I saw the pictures of a friend who was going to study art. It was a wow effect, it made a big impression. Later I visited him at the university of Wuppertal, he had made even more advanced and beautiful paintings on canvas.

In your early career you worked in the metal industry. What was your role?

I was a locksmith. My work in the metal industry was always a job of precision, never the big work. It was about tenths of a millimeter, we only used the finest stainless steel.

When did you start painting? 

When I was about twenty, working in the metal industry. I was very precise and fast, and always ahead of my target time. So I had some time between jobs and always used this time to paint.

How did you develop your style?

I am an autodidact and have explored styles to see what would suit me as an artist. Initially, I only painted architectural shapes and female nudes. Later free architectural drawings with watercolour. We had art lectures in architecture studies on Van Gogh, Cézanne, Matisse, Klimt, Monet. As a trained architect, my work is inspired by modernist architects like Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier. I invested many years building my career as an architect and started renovating villas in Bodrum in Turkye, my native country. My wife and I could not find the artwork we wanted for our own house in Bodrum, so I decided to create the canvasses myself. Passion for art has always been vital in my life. I am now painting 80 per cent of my time.

Art work for Kemal's house in Bodrum
Art work for Kemal's house in Bodrum

How do you work?

I have refined my painting techniques, experimenting with different metal and plastic tools, like construction squeegees to spread acrylic and oil on stretched canvas. I can't do anything with brushes, I need tools in my hands and I want to make precise and emotionally free movements, expressive and spontaneous application of paint reflects my type of art. I need a counter pressure, I have to feel it when I apply a lot of paint and scrape it away again, or distribute and apply again. Often layer upon layer, with the colours mixing into each other. The process is very physical, it relaxes me and I forget everything around me.

Falling Water

Falling Water | Acrylic on canvas| 50 x 50 x 3.5 cm | $535,- | Kemal Yazici

You use very vibrant colours. What is your inspiration?

Travelling inspires me. I travel for business, also for pleasure. I like Italy. We live in Dubai, my wife is a doctor there. Dubai’s modernity and architecture intrigue me. And we are often in Bodrum. It is the favourite resort for people in Turkye. The colours are very strong. The sea is very blue. The sky is very blue. The flowers are very beautiful. Natural settings, dramatic weather conditions, city skylines, the sea, sailing boats and sails inspire me.

Several years ago I discovered the art of Rothko, Gerhard Richter and Karl Otto Götz – abstract expressionists who have definitely influenced me. Götz was one of the first to use the squeegee. Rothko fascinates me with the calm of his paintings, it is almost spiritual, it calms people, the room, the building. Richter’s paintings are very restless. They bring movement and colour into the room and create a kind of tension in minimalist architecture, and I love minimalist architecture. In art and architecture, the soul is the most important element. Art is an expression of feeling. Art is about passion.

Please visit the page of Kemal Yazici for available work.

Text: Alice Broeksma