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Bedri Baykam
Painter { }
Bedri Baykam

- Bedri Baykam

No matter what they say, in my life as an artist, I am the sequel of the kid who turned the world upside down in 1960s. Let me put it this way: some people who think that they compliment me praise my recent works  and imply that the experiences surrounding that kid in that particular period of time is not so important. Of course, for several reasons, I refuse that. Because nobody in his own right mind and no one who knows art could look at my works of the ages of 3-10 and say “these are not that important, they're overrated”. Even I cannot understand how I made that. Plus, I am not an opportunist person. I don't change my opinion so that someone likes it at the cost of making my work more difficult. There has been some people who tried to create such an atmosphere in which everyone would be relieved if I said : “that's right, those 'prodigy' expressions were rubbish”.

However, I am the sequel of that kid. Could it be such a coincidence (!)? Same kid is going to be the coincidentally grown version of the man who still shakes the world around. It's enough to make a cat laugh!All of my art balances, my comprehension of composition and my spontaneousness, they all come from “him” and I enjoy it. Another complex is : “Well, “a prodigy” may exist in music. Because there already is. There is Mozart. Yet, not in painting. Because, there is none.

Why doesn't it occur to them that the equivalence to Mozart in painting may be from this country? Does it always have to be occidental? Actually, I would never mention this issue but because of some arrogant people, I feel like I must defend this kid and I won't let anyone to mess with him. There are some other complexes. For example : “ His father is Suphi Baykam, he is rich, that's why he was successful. Well, there have been more than hundred thousands of rich families in this country. Why weren't there any famous authors or film makers among them? According to this calculation, if it was about money, each and every moment Turkey should be taking genius (excuse my language) out of his ass !! Yes, my father had a huge role in my life with my mother. They gave me a massive self-confidence, investment in humans, a solid political background and education. Language, tennis, reading, to see the world, exploring... Contrary to generally known, my father was not that rich. However, his soul was the richest. He was creative, revolutionist, in love with a universe “bon vivant” and he was full of laughters. He was a philosopher of life. Tomorrow, the biggest lawsuit might be waiting for him; today he would lie in the sun, play with street dogs and go to listen to a close friend's troubles. Whether it's politics or art, if I have that much of confidence and determination in anything to say “I can change the world” , I owe that to my father. Because his life is full of “firsts”, as well. He became the person who helped Turkey go forward. In contrast with him, my mother is more realistic, she cuts her coat according to her cloth. That is why perhaps I became the average of them. This helps me have a dream and carry it to the reality as well. To be the son of Dr. Suphi Baykam, is an everlasting honor. However, on the contrary, I established my grown up life with giant financial hardships. The autobiography that I've written is evident: “the prodigy and the eternal ocean”, 2 volumes. My claim is: I definitely don't think that you will be able to read such a detailed and profound autobiography as mine in our era... It was written in 11 years. Let's remove the 4 years that I spent on writing “Kemik”, then it was written in 7 years. None of the journals, love letters, notes or clippings were lost while relocating so often, they were preserved with a sublime attention. In that book, you can read from which houses I was evicted as I couldn't pay the rent, when I had to paint on paper in USA because I didn't have money, in which year I couldn't attend my sister's wedding because I couldn't buy tickets.  Also, the music, the politics, the social life, the international politics, my family life, my private life, my exclusive private life of those years, all of them are written in it.  You can not find more explicit and more subjective and more objective memoirs at the same time. Plus, it is all supported by documents... As a result, if you ask me “so who is Bedri Baykam?” I would say, “he is a freedom fighter, he works 18hours a day since 1977”,  I would say “he is different from other intellectuals in a way that he is proud to be considered as a kemalist and a partisan of CHP”, because from the beginning, I am aware of the fact that to underestimate the politics and political parties would harm the country. As I was born into the CHP in the stormy days of my father's political life, right before the 27th May Revolution, my political maturity arrived so soon. It is interesting, even today, if I am a hope for millions of people in Turkey even though my professional occupation is not politics, that is because the public is conscious about my struggle of years without concession. Think about that; politically, with the direction I have in politics, I let  80 percent of my potential clients face against me; I take all the streak of lightnings of 2nd republican media from intellectual world and my opponents in the art environment. Besides, I spent half of my entire time, 50 percent of it on giving speeches in Anatolia or at universities instead of spending it on museum-gallery-sale stuff. These are not the decisions or the practice to take easily. One of my theories is; in future, in one of the movies that will be filmed about me, there are going to be such arguments as: “there is at least 2 or 3 different Bedri Baykam because the same person can not squeeze all of these into  a lifetime, it would be ridiculous to believe that.” My soul would comprehend them because when I think of it as  “how does it fit?”, I find it incomprehensible.  

Besides all of them? As far as I can recall; my family, my son, my mother, my whole family, Fenerbahçe, my endless interest to beautiful ladies, coffee houses, ambition to buy books, my friends, my ambition of travelling and my phobias, the hatred I have to the stupid celebrities who treat badly to their fans, sea and my love of “eternal ocean”, my quality of being a loyal friend, not being scared of taking risks, my ambition to cinema, my illness of archive ( house is almost collapsed ) and 1001 things more things come to my mind...

- America

In the days when I was totally broke in US, trying to hold on to life, at the very beginning of 80s, I used to instruct tennis and give French lessons for 10 dollars per hour. Then, since the end of the year 82 and 83, thousand dollars sales started to arrive. I wrote on a canvas what I've done with the first money I got from the first gallery that I worked with. “On…… Britt called me from New York and told me that I had sold two works for $9000. I met with Birgit ( Model of ‘the Prostitute's Room’) and I went to Grand Dreyer's Ice Cream and I ordered a huge banana split that I ate real fast. I wanted to feel that Amerika was a place where you earned a lot of dollars that you spent real fast without ever having the security to do so again…” America became the big house that inspired me while i was determining my style and trained me for professional life. I was in love with California and still I am... The café where I'm answering these questions is the "place" i love most. Everyone living there knows Café Strada in Berkeley. Because its name was Café Roma in my epoch, i still call it so. After the 70s i spent in Europe, America was a shot in the arm.

I painted the most precious pictures of my life in America when i had just a few coppers in my pocket. 'Fahişenin Odası' (?) came up with the paints that my close friend Ron Stewart lent me from the stationer he worked. When i was creating 'Kadere İsyan', i didn't even have 10 dollars. Yet, i was working with the awareness of living a historic moment. Besides i had tears falling down from my eyes because of breaking up dramatically with my girl friend, for the sake of whom i moved to America. However, i always loved America. I spent the best days of my life in California. The mode of life, the girls, the highways, the 24 hours open diners and the human relations of this country was fitting me very well. despite criticizing it politically in terms of both imperialism and cultural imperialism... Soho in New York is my second favorite place after Berkeley. But except the terms of my exhibitions, i cannot live in New York. 30 days after, the stress causes me the tissue incompatibility and it wastes away my creativity.

Needless to say that, the crescendo of the years i spent in America was my descent to San Francisco Modern Art Museum with my manifestation in 1984. It was definitely a historical 'happening'. And the time justified me. In those days, as being a 27 years old young man, i took the whole American art ordinance, the 'establishment' over against me without fear. Because i knew what i was talking about and i was sure of myself. Million dollars and the professors almost in their 70s were not important to me. I knew what i was saying and was not afraid of being humiliated when i said "you always produce history of art as the art of western artists". And all of these were happening 5 or 6 years before the multiculturalism movement. The first demur in art against the descrepancy of western hegemony came up between the 30th of June and the 1st of July in 1984 in the manifestations that i distributed. I have to admit that i'm still proud of those descents that we arranged with the friends who distributed the manifestations. I was not an ordinary 27 ofcourse. I was an 'action commando' who had been living alone on abroad for 9 years and who passed through the experiences of the actions of Suphi Baykam and the Sorbonne University. And then, the whole museum said sorry to me. Its manager came to my room, i met Peter Selz, one of the most famous critic, thanks to the action i did over there. He stood by me for life. Today, too close to the age of 90, he is arranging exhibitions and books all the time as being an excellent history of art. These days, he is writing in 4D works Art in America in my current exhibition in California.

It's really interesting that the exhibiton that i opened with my latest works made me take a good revenge. In this continent, there is almost no one to understand or to know how these pictures were painted. The most famous professionals look as if they were looking at a space graffiti. And this is not a trivial case, let's do not forget this happens despite living in the so-called 'THIS HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE' epoch. 4Ds were nourished specially from the works in the latest 11 years and progressed. But infact we can also say the latest 23 years considering the subjects that i improved.

With incredible synthesis, a brand new domain appeared. This material had been around for 50 years as a raw material but nobody used it in this way before. In art, there were some timid usages but were not successful. I think the reason of this lenticular surface having a big boom with me is this; i have been working on these transparency in layers in 3 different layouts. The first one is the transparency of the paint. For example, for this, we can go back till the 'saga' picture in 86. But i essentially plunged deep into it in 1998-1999 with the 'Transparent Layers'. We can say that the most striking example is 'Kendi içinde bir Dünya' in Istanbul Modern collections. 'Girly Plots' comes after this. Here there is a different profundity about the digital photograph transparency and the overlapping pictures. And finally the different overlapping materials, transparent plastics, the series of 'Lolitarte' which was seen in my exhibition in 2007 in New York, here also, there is a specialism of transparency out of material and physical features. When i combined 3 different transparency profundity with only one material, with lenticular technologie, a profundity, something like an oasis, that was never seen before in USA, came up. Especially when i added artistic and historical references to the subjects as i've been doing since 1987, the dimensions of the profundity and the riches were cut away, flied away by deed. This is actually an interesting gift to the art world because it addresses both to the tough critics and to the man in the street.

So we said to America 'how about that ?'

- Red

Name of the girl that I fell in love with in 1982 was Carissa. I made a painting called “Escape From Red” for her. Original title was “Chased by Red, Alaaddin”. I like red even though I am a fan of Fenerbahçe. While painting, getting high on the visual and tactual values of the paint, “Cadmium Red” gives a devastating dizziness. One of the two best colors on women underwear is red. ( other one is black, of course) Perhaps red is the best color which transfers “Less is More” most of the time. It is passion and... color of our flag. The flag that some jerks try to devaluate nowadays...

- Atatürk

I feel sorry for those who don't understand Atatürk. Especially for those losers whose fathers were leftists, who grew up in that environment but still gets on with spreading hostility for Atatürk; I can't figure out whether they do this out of volatility or stupidity. In the end I say; “probably out of volatility”. Because nobody can be that stupid or narrow-minded. When it is obvious that throughout his life he cherishes democracy, human rights, equality of men and women, art, peace and science; no one -no matter how idiot they are- can make me believe in their imbecility by their anachronistic comments such as  “Atatürk was not democratic, he was a fascist” by comparing 1920s to today. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is one of the people that I adore the most. I am proud of him. He is also a huge culture revolutionist. The achievements experienced in 15 years has no other examples in the world. People make sentences starting by saying “if Mustafa Kemal would come back today?” Well, I'm living such a life that if he comes back and looks at what I've done step by step, I don't think he would find anything missing. For many years I have been living with taking all the risks by opposing every jeopardy to the republic. I invested at least 50 percent of my life to these kind of activities and studies. I've done everything to make socialist political parties unite, I still am doing. I brought up the danger the bigots formed when their votes were almost only 5 percent; both with my works such as “Kubilay Odası” and the conferences, as well as articles and books. In addition to thousands of articles and conferences, half of my 21 books that I've written is on politics and these issues.  I also wrote this in Cumhuriyet newspaper;  to memorialize Atatürk, go to Anıtkabir on 23rd April, 29th October and 10th November but not to chase the daily politics, you are betraying kemalism unconsciously. To find the answers to your problems, you need today's people. When you are mad at AKP, gather around in public squares; whoever you want to see as a leader, go to his house. Or if you have a leader to criticize go to his front door. But do not seek the answer to “should we get in to EU?” from Atatürk. Seek it in a socialist mind. If Venezuela would spin the same wheel around “Bolivar”, could Chavez ever be the leader by the blast of the left?

There is another point but let's not widen it here so detailed; Being Kemalist can not be leaving the whole historical period to the bigots by being hostile to Ottoman. Why don't we celebrate the conquest of Istanbul as well?

Are we ashamed of it? If we do, we should get out and leave Istanbul. Atatürk was claiming to be the owner when he was saying “As they have come, so they will go...” while looking at the British battleships, right? If we are going to claim to be the owner, we need to cherish how we achieved, as well.

Everybody should drop the mistake of underestimation to “Ottomans” by seeing Fatih or Kanuni as hostiles in the name of being a Kemalist. And don't tell me: “ Where do you get this idea from? We all care about that...”. Which groups are the only ones who demonstrates about the conquest of Istanbul each year is pretty obvious... Have you ever seen CHP, ADD or CYDD's keen participation to these activities? We will change this nonsense, one way or another... This issue can not be left to the bigots with all of its depth!

- Pyramid Art

In 1987, with a crazy decision, i moved to Istanbul from California. For almost two weeks, i suffered from diarrhea and got mad. Then, i missed my house, my family and my girl friend at those times. I went through a crisis and moved. How weird, when i decided to move to America to live, my family was saying ' please don't go' and when i was coming back, they said 'don't come back' . I didn't listen to them in both times. After coming back, i painted for 2 or 3 years at home. We turned the one third of the saloon into a workshop. My parents made things easier for me. The 16-17 of January in 1991, the day the Gulf War started, i moved to the workshop in Tarlabaşı which we gave the name Manastır. Before me, Hale Arpacıoğlu and photographer Feyyaz were there. Then they left too, i stayed, branched out and widened... It's easy to say but, i stayed exactly 15 years over there. Truly a history passed in that building. The cats, the girls, the girls, the paint, the snow, the visits of collector, my assistants, Suat, Leyla, Yamaç, Sabiha...until... Those days were beautiful. My son reached the end of it and my wife Sibel to the beginning...
I made the last painting next to my father in that building, Atatürk in Kocatepe, it was for the 1994 Kuvva-i Milliye exhibition. The building was just like the New York Arts Building. It was built around 1870. I mean it had the air of the Bateau-lavoir workshop of Picasso. For the last 8 years we had huge judicial problems with the building. Can't be told, you need to experience it to understand. We were on the edge of eviction all the time. 3 different thriller movies can be done out of this story. We brought ministers, called the President, once we had the lawyer who came to evict us dismissed the other day. Sometimes the power who controlled the building was lost. We were close friends with Adnan Vurdevir who rented the building to us. We were resisting together against the varying lawyers of Armenian Foundation so that they wouldn't kick us out. Later on, Adnan Bey was killed by a car accident around Balıkesir, it was quite a shock for us. After struggling for a few more years,  with the theatre downstairs, we said “ok, we're out” and we gave them a date for 2006 summer. I was looking for a studio. I totally insisted on that it should be around Beyoğlu. There wasn't many around. Then, an architect friend of mine found me “that” building. It was on a cross street in Taksim, very close to the square. While roaming around I had the picture in my mind. Such as first floor as a café, upper story as the gallery, upstairs as my studios, downstairs as storage etc. Then we had some troubles for a week but afterwards, we finally rented it and I was so glad ! It was quite a huge expense to give birth to Pyramid Art. Especially my mother, Sibel and my assistants and everybody else tried to help me. It was horrible to move out of the monastery. As the lead of this event, I brought Yusuf Ertaş from Adana to organize and supervise it. As a result, for exactly 90 days and nights working, the moving process and the birth of Pyramid came true. It was literally a miracle. Why did I name it Pyramid? Because my company existed already as film production and publishing since 1999. Also, we chose it because it was an international title, it was easy to pronounce in each language. The most importantly, it carried the mentality of mine which  reflected my opposition to the western hegemony. I mean, if the world art is a pyramid, it was formed by each brick that anyone would bring. After my book “Maymunların Resim Yapma Hakkı” ( “The Right of the Monkeys to Paint”) indicated that the modern art's origins come more from south and east instead of the west, I was saying this: a world artist is impressed by every culture, existentialism, skyscrapers of New York, Mesopotamia, Indian culture, Zen philosophy... Everyone may bring a brick. However, do not ever see it as a western structure. It is more of a construction with eastern flexibility... That is why it's name is “Pyramid”... Look, do you know the most distinctive difference of Pyramid from other exhibition places? You know the galleries and museums who say proudly that “we are full for the next 3 years” ? We have never been like that, and never will be. Because this attitude is against the flow of life and art. It's not natural. There is a constipation that is not open to surprise opportunities in it. We live open to these surprises with Pyramid. Sometimes we exhibit huge displays such as “68 40th year”, or else, we can put through the Bozkaya Aldaş exhibition right away which was canceled due to censorship. Pyramid is also an institution with a political aspect. It is not colorless.

I really love to paint there, to host the visitors, organizing conferences. It brought  huge freedom and movement skill to me and to Istanbul art life. Workshops, art movie screenings, conferences, book promotions, all of them are being held there. We are intimate to the local culture around us at Pyramid; all the street gather around there on the live match days. Other art locations can not even think of such a thing. Let there be that much of a difference, right? What more do you want? Just like Istanbul, free and scamp!

- Harem

I made two paintings named “harem”. That's a lie, actually I made lots but the most interesting ones were these two. One of them is the famous photocollage that comes from my 1987 Hamam exhibition – which is sold to İstanbul Modern this year- named “I wish I had a Harem” and the other little drawing is named: “I wish I didn't Have a Harem”.

Throughout my whole life, I've been traveling between these two, what more can I say? Ottoman Harem was probably the paradise on earth for the sultans. So why are the followers of Ottomanism today so against to women issues? We should be asking them about that!

Latest 4Ds have a lot of harem drawings. It is a very striking issue and it will stay that way for centuries. Humanbeings are not so programmed to be monograms.

- Paris

It is the city that has held a place the most in my life along with Istanbul and Berkeley. My first exhibition was there in 1964... Mukadder Sezgin tells that Fikret Mualla – cultural attaché of the time being- had come to my opening. About that day, how valuable it would be for Turkish art history of a photograph of me next to Mualla. I barely recall that opening.  Very deep down... I was 7 years old.. I remember my 8 years old exhibitions better, like New York. Later on, I traveled to Paris back and forth throughout my life. After Istanbul, it is the place that I had most of my displays shown along with New York.  Moreover, as an adult, I moved there at the age of 18 and lived there on my own for 5 years. Again, there are tons of details that I've already written in my book called “The Prodigy”. The semi-communal life I've experienced with some of my friends such as Meir, Erol, Larry the Tunisian and Cevher. The only other city I know composed like a museum as much as Paris is Moskow, nothing else. An incredible cultural treasure. You get jealous in an inevitable way. Can you compare a French artist to a Turkish one? Best example is from Athletism. Imagine a runner of 1500 meters: until the start point, each western athlete had the best nutriments, vitamins, slept for 10 hours, had been massaged, had worn the lightest shoes... and next to them is a Turkish runner; haven't slept for 48hours, hungry and thirsty for 3 days, going to run with jeans... and rocks and steel ropes are bound to his feet! I'm not exaggerating, believe me ! They have ten thousands of museums, culture centers, foundations, collectors, ministry of culture funds, a press that extremely pays attention to art and a conscious public. Do you know what condition we're in? We hope that today the government will not arrest us, or our books don't get confiscated, theaters don't get shut down, our paintings or movies don't get censored! About state collection, almost nothing. No encouragement to art, the press is there to foul, so? What is left behind? Our first modern art museum is opened 5 years ago. Despite of these ridiculous differences I'm telling you: at my period, to which French artist alive you want to compare me? Gerard Garouste? Combas? Jean Charles Blais? Herve di Rosa? I accept them all. Let them prepare a retrospective display, let me get prepared under the same circumstances, which exhibition is better, let an independent commission decide it, we'll see... This is the miracle of Turkish art! If any of the French, German or American artists were in our condition, they would go nuts ! Without any support, facing  a lot of clinical cases  coming from the school of  people of 80 percent saying “ even I can do that!”; they would be out of their minds ! Despite of these facts, we still can keep on competing. I am very sure of myself about this point. Nevertheless, I still love Paris which is an icon and I envy in a good way. Every year, I go to Paris for almost 1-2 months. To be fed, to see my friends. To see the exhibitions, especially the Pompidou Museum. At Quartier Latin, les halles Champs Elysees, I have great memories. I have spent my youth on picking up girls in Paris! Perhaps how our skins got so stiff to the rejections of the galleries has got to do a lot with these doctrines (!) There is truth in it somehow: until 1980 when I came to US, to CCAC, I always attended to the French schools. I mean, I had the same education with those people. It creates a great deal of familiarity. Now, my son is almost 11 years old, he's attending to a French school, as well.

From Rimbaud to Baudelaire, from Sartre to Camus, from Verlaine to Truffaut, each and every corner of Paris is covered by history and thought. A city so dreadful and so beautiful... Around the world, one of the 3 cities that I can drive without looking at a map. And still a provocation center. Even though surrendering its power in art to New York...

- Deniz (The Sea)

There are two different Deniz more important one from the other: Deniz (the sea) which covers the three forth of the world and the “mare Nostrum” which covers the three forth of Turkey; meaning Deniz Gezmiş.

If you look at my “Sonsuz Okyanus” (Eternal Ocean) painting or if you look at the dialogues of Selim Targan with Hasip Ağa the fisherman, they’re all next to the sea, at the wild beaches, you can see how important the sea is to me. Looking constantly at the horizon fed me all the time. Sometimes I love to be on the mountains as well but I’ve never said “ let’s go to the mountains”. Arthur Cravan also comes to my mind. Famous poet and boxer crazy of Dada movement. Sailing to the ocean one day and never coming back is extremely romantic and attractive. How many times I imagine to swim forward and never coming back... The sea has an incredible attraction... Wants to take you inside, just like a seductive woman who wants you to drink the death syrup. Besides, the sea is always civilization. Wherever it has gone, it has brought freedom, relaxed human relations and civilization. Relaxing people, makes you a philosopher or a butterfly...

About Deniz Gezmiş, what should I say? People become examples to me on two different lines. First line has two main persons. One of them is Atatürk who has been an example to the world, the other one is my father Dr.Suphi Baykam who has always walked on Atatürk’s path, opening doors to Turkey, being the first to sign new things. No need to talk about Atatürk, every point in his life is full of heroism and revolutionism. My father is firstly an important student leader, then the founder of CHP’s youth and women representations and the president of founders of youth representation, first spokesman of the central left, a huge defender of lad reform, first notion creator and executive of public sector... and... master builder of the Bedri Baykam project! To be frank, the languages I speak, my love for books, my courage, my compansationlessness, my rational skills of taking risks, my love for humans to any kind on the street, not being discriminative, my Kemalist point of view... countless stuff... Me being a fan of Fenerbahçe! What a project ! However, we had a lot of disagreements, too. Thus, through this person, I experienced my father as an example. I’ve always seen how he struggled with fascists, bigots.

This was what I called first impact. Second impact is the ones who struggle with “bad guys” on the field actually... I mean Che Guevera, Deniz Gezmiş and the others... I’ve earned a very important discipline from them: losing everything, even dying if necessary for the sake of the values you believe in... This is a very different spot and aspect. My best friends such as Muammer Aksoy, Uğur Mumcu, Ahmet Taner Kışlalı died the same way... On purpose. Without fearing the threats! Without backing down... By walking to the gallows at the age of 24-25, Deniz showed this to the youth, to the intellectuals... He walked into the history and light. While improving his determination, his own example was probably Che. I have prepared huge 68 exhibitions. First one was a person display at AKM at its 30th anniversary in 1997, second one was another personal display at Revolution Museum in Cuba in 1999; and the last one was the 40th year exhibition last year in Ankara and Istanbul in which I was the curator. All of these helped Deniz to be perceived nationally and sometimes internationally by the new generation. For example, I believe that the series on ATV is very helpful. Deniz needs to be perceived, he needs to be known. I’ve become friends with the rest of his family. I’ve interviewed profoundly with the late father of him; Cemil bey. I’ve met his mother and his siblings. I held all the important “memorabilia” of him including the last letter he wrote to his family, in my hands. I’ve seen his personal materials. And think about that, for the first time, they trusted me with the legendary coat of him after 35 years. Halit Bey and his dearly wife Şekibe Hanım who has never given that to no film makers, no friends, to no one, had let it stay with me for months for an exhibition I arranged. And what have I done? I’ve taken really good care of that coat as if it was a 2 years old baby. As promised, I kad taken the coat out of Halit Bey’s house by myself, afterwards, returned it by myself. For instance, when the Istanbul exhibition was over, I jumped into my car, drove for 4 hours, returned it to Halit Bey, had a coffee there and turned back on the same day. Because both the promise I made and the extent of the case required that. It wasn’t something that you could give to a private messenger or to the biggest cargo company with insurance. It should have been given and taken from hand to hand and should have been displayed under a locked glass in the exhibition. And about Deniz? Without a doubt, he is one of my best friends in my life now!

- Pablo Picasso

Picasso is the artist I adore the most and who impresses me as a human the most. Not because he is the most distinguished artist but probably because he is the most attractive, the naughtiest and the best creative artist of all... Look, do not ever think that I can take on board every famous artist unconditionally. I'm explaining it with justifications in my book called 'Maymunların Resim Yapma Hakkı'. When we examine the artists such as Brancusi, Henry Moore or Giacometti, we realize that they breed hundreds of stereotype works after getting inspired directly by the cultures of south and east and by the artists of "other" countries. Picasso, however, taking the African sculptures and the every "distinct" object which arouses his interest as afflatuses, put them into the melting pot, married them off, used them as crude materials while combining the rules of contrary worlds. He originated and the others "fleeced" the flexibility and representative faculty of all the other cultures by cheap simulation and under the cover of "inspiration".

From the beginning, Picasso has been prepared to the world as a legend. His embarking upon painting in his early ages resembles almost to my story of Child Prodigy. In his museum in Barcelona, his earlier works commence at the age of 12 and they flourish until the last day of his life. And whenever I take a step into a room filled with Picasso's paintings and whenever I stroll around in a museum, I feel a boundless desire to paint. I want to go back to my workshop straightaway. Both the paintings i create and my professional art career are completely different from Picasso. But we converge on an aspect. And this is the perpetual eager of alternation. After a certain time, Picasso annihilates the spots he reached and sets sail for new horizons. Probably, he influenced me the most with this feature. By no manner of means I understood the artists who do the same things for life. Why does an artist turn into a gloom for both himself and for his viewers?
Another common point is also women... I get impressed by the women dreadfully like Pablo and this has impacts on my paintings. On the other hand, I'm a man who succeeded in keeping aloof from the routine of marriage and divorce. As for him, he proceeded on his way after presenting either a kid or a castle to all his wives and his partners.

I dare say that my first intimate date with his art was in my early California years, between 1980-82. Being thrilled with the Cubism, I aggregated my expressionistic art with Picasso's act of looking at people and the objects from disparate angles. On the canvases I painted during those years, the eye looks wandering at "everything" in the room for example at a woman, from utterly different angles. You can see all these in the paintings of "Fahişenin Odası", "La Toilette" and "Hayalet" which i made with the same style.

Furthermore, Picasso, with his "demoiselle d' avignon" not only turned the most dramatic bend of the modern art history but also painted the most favorite tableau of my life. Actually it takes me so long to tell you this here but, I planned a gorgeous exhibition in the 100th anniversary of this painting. I announce this for the first time here. In brief, 20 or 25 artists from 3 generations and 5 continents were going to make their interpretations after being inspired by the revolutionism of this tableau. I contacted with almost every museum in Turkey and I agreed with Pera Museum on the point of opening this exhibition. After developing the project for 6 or 7 months, on the 29th October 2006, I got an sms from the museum "manager" telling me about the cancellation of the exhibition due to the "financial deficiency". Unfortunately, when the museums are 2-3-5 years old in a country, this kind of tragycomic scenes can be seen. I prefer not to tell the rest, it would be a novel...

But there is another case; if the mentality who considers the art as "piece, curatur and notion import from the west" was not on control, we would make use of a great opportunity and the analyse of the new 1000 years would start in Turkey. The most important authors of the world indicated their participation. The museum brought in such a scandal. It was the most significant step about Picasso and the new 1000 years. This mentality which is used to open imported exhibitions with the sponsorships of international cigarette companies, was not ready to carry out this operation by a Turkish brain. Anyway let's skip it. The Manastır Workshop where I painted for 15 years in Istanbul was built in around 1870. I always felt over there as if I had been in Picasso's workshop, in "Beteau-Lavoir". This is the moment to which I want to go back, to 1906-07, to Paris, to the workshop in Montmartre, to share this building with young Picasso. Actually for the ones who knows reading, I'm already doing this with my 4Ds, if you don't believe, you can ask to Picasso...I will make another essential assignation...My 4D works have the pulse of this period so much that they cause a sens of "envy"with the artists. It keeps coming to my mind; if it was Warhol who was viewing these works, he would adore these and demand me to work together. With Dali, it would be different than this; Dali would either choke me with his hands at that moment or would make me killed by the mafia because after observing my works, he would call me to account saying, "these are the works of my field, what the hell are you doing here "and would attack me to capture this new domain. And Picasso ? No, certainly no. I think, finding these works extremely interesting, he would walk on the same path and go back to his own workshop after all...

- Quentin Tarantino

A director that impressed me the most along with Woody Allen, Milos Forman, Oliver Stone and Brian de Palma. Because they are making almost the same movies I want to create. I have started to be interested in motion pictures very early. At the end of 1970s, I wrote a script about the foreign students living in Paris. Followed by another project that I have started to write around the life of Van Gogh which included very expressionist and hard-graphical scenes. Again in the same period of time, I shot a lot f 16 mm movies. In these movies, there was one common issue that I was interested in: I wanted these movies to pass through each and every frequency of life: I mean life, death, pornography, sex, laughter and thought. That is why I was one of the people that felt so close to Tarantino who appeared in the early 90s. The movie “Pulp Fiction” was surely one of the biggest successes of all times! It is one of the movies that I saw 10 times in theaters along with “JFK”, “Scarface” and “Midnight Express”. The Kennedy assassination is one of the issues that I am interested in the most and Stone's movie was perfect. The cooperation between Tarantino and Stone is also pretty obvious.

The relation between “Pulp Fiction” and “Natural Born Killers” is also obvious. Look, there was a short movie I made in 1981 called “Thursday”. I shot it in California. In a short movie of 8 minutes, the viewer was going through all “moods”. Comedy, sex, drama, horror... Because I believed that motion picture should be like that. Life was not only sex or only comedy or only drama ! All in all, it was whole in life. In the early 1990s, I wrote a script called “Bayağı Film”. Between you and me, it was awesome. For instance, I worked with Müjde Ar on it for sometime and she told me that “I have never seen such a thing in my life, even though I am not interested in such strange movie styles...”. However, we couldn't find enough money for it and 2 years later, something unfortunate happened; a famous director, someone that I have worked with on that project stole this by getting “independently inspired”. And of course, by destroying all of its authenticity. I don't want to babble about it, it became a matter of a lawsuit. As a result, I couldn't shoot that movie and later on the lawsuit was dropped mutually. I filed that lawsuit so as to protect my artistic freedom of speech. Because, after that no matter what kind of leap forward I make on my own style, people who don't know would say that it seems like the other movie. It can be a movie, a novel or a happening... Later on, I started to write “Kemik” in 1997. If I hadn't exposed that steal of the script, I couldn't have written that novel. “Kemik” was one of my best moves that I was proud of. Between you and me, let me tell you something: I received thousands of mails saying “I have never read a better book in my whole life” and I think they were right. The ones who read it know what I mean. Like I mentioned before, this a book that creates the most permanent philosophy of life by passing through all the frequencies of life somehow. Everyone can buy it from my website, in Turkish or in English. It was also published in Italy. Absurdly, they named it “Sex” there.. Anyways, what I mean is: I had some Hollywood attempts to make a movie of “Kemik”. Then I held back all my desires of making a full-length movie and put away to the fridge. Because my time is of the essence. Instead of begging for money, I can write 3 books and 300 articles and create 70 paintings during that time. If somebody comes to me and puts 10 million dollars on the table saying “make the movie of Kemik”, I'll do it. Or else, I don't move a muscle to make a “feature movie”! Why am I telling this? TARANTINO!!! That's why... I love Tarantino's movies because I passed through right in the middle of “that” motion picture before him and if I had ran into a producer with an immense brain, I would have rocked the world with my movies, as well. For the same reasons, if I make the movie of Kemik, I would create an earthquake. However, the begging style of that world is not for me. From now on, I've set up my own system at every point. Exhibition, book, video, catalog, happening, I do and represent everything on my own, I do not need anyone. Unfortunately, the cinema is struggling with gratitude and begging...

- 1970

It has been 2 years since I moved to Istanbul. I have a few friends, Rick is American, Paul is Canadian... There is football. I’ve just started to play tennis. I’ve been worrying about my parents, in panic, perhaps just because not living in the family cocoon anymore. Turkey is experiencing the most progressive years especially comparing to today, we are 10000 light years ahead. No bigots or anything around in circulation. Student actions has started, it is warm... We’re hanging out in Bebek. Again Fenerbahçe is in my life intensively. My stars are Can Baru and Nunweiller, and there is crazy romenian Sasu who scores in every game, a legend that is still known today. With a great sobriety, I am publishing Fenerbahçe magazines which are read only by 3 of my friends and my father. I even have an archive. My passion for sexuality has already begun. My love for pornography, as well. 1970, such a pretty year...

- 2050

I must be still alive at that time. As 93 years old ! Because I would love to live a long life with my son and my family. Moreover, I must be alive till that time because of my competition with Picasso so that the comparison can be made properly ! My retrospektive in 2100 will be marvellous ! Technology and science? Of course, I am curious about them. According to my theory, EVERYTHING that comes to our minds will be able to be made without exception... However, I’m more curious about the year 5000 or 500.000. I mean we can not even imagine what might be happening on earth or in the universe. I mean, all the things we consider as beyond reality or impossible right now will be like stone age or will totally be forgotten. If I could go back in time, I would go to Dealey Plaza, to Dallas. Or to the days where I used to swim with my father on Büyükada, irresponsibly.. Except for that, I would want to go forward. For instance, I would love to go to the year 5 million. This is a very short time in universe history. Let me make you laugh: what if the bigots are still putting pressure on laicism 5 million years later!

- Why?

Because life is worth living despite of everything. And nowadays have a magical beauty. Everything is happening now and here, there is no “future”... Everything is now...

- Love

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Helena Anliot. Rochelle Cappelli. Helena Anliot. Anita Beckman. Helena Anliot. Ayşe Deniz. Helena Anliot.
Yonca Dervişoğlu. Helena Anliot. Sibel Baykam

... in one of the movies that will be filmed about me, there are going to be such arguments as: 'there is at least 2 or 3 different Bedri Baykam because the same person can not squeeze all of these into a lifetime it would be ridiculous to believe that.

- Bedri Baykam / Bak 15
  • Bedri, You are still that egocentric little kid I hanged with from 1968 to 1970... Paul, the Canadian
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