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Interview With Turkish Artist Ayşe Raziye Özalp On Her Ottoman Miniature Works

Edited by Jing Zhao

Translated by Fulden Sert

Ayşe Raziye Özalp is one of the top Modern-Ottoman Miniature artists in Istanbul. Also, she is known as Master Gürsoy Uğurlu’s last student. Her outstanding talent in using the traditional technique to illustrate new patterns and modern compositions is well-recognized in Turkey.

Inside Me at IMUR Art Gallery (Aug 12 - Sep 1, 2022) is the first solo exhibition of Ayşe Raziye Özalp in the US, presenting many of her representative works throughout her career as an artist. This is an in-depth interview on her art practice, cultural experiences, and great influences.

IMUR: What were your motivations for becoming a modern-ottoman miniature artist? When did you realize this was something you wanted to pursue and how did you start?

Ayşe Raziye Özalp: I have a natural talent that I've been aware of since I was a child. I always have an interest in the visual arts, and I kept drawing for years without formal training. Despite my talent and interests, I chose sociology instead. However, I never stopped drawing. Drawing allows me to express myself and my thoughts.

After I first encountered my miniature art teacher — Gürsoy Uğurlu in the early 2000s, I began to learn the details, colors, and subjects of this art form. I fell in love with it. I also took sketch and oil painting lessons. But even while doing so, I noticed that I reflected the effects of miniature art on my canvas, and I considered how I could combine those techniques with miniature art. I had already made my decision at that point. For me, miniature art became indispensable. In 2016, after I received my marbling certificate, I also frequently employ the art of illumination in my miniatures.

Ayşe Raziye Özalp’s Blue Dragonfly With Istanbul City View.

Photo: Jing Zhao © The artist.

You were born and grew up in Turkey. How does that affect your work?

Of course, every artist is influenced and fed by the culture and art of the country in which they were born. I also attempted to develop my own style, which was inspired by Ottoman miniature art. For an artist, however, not only local arts, but all world arts, are sources of their inspiration. The artist must be open-minded and uninhibited.

We see flowers, women, and animals appear frequently in your paintings. Why do these subjects interest you?

Growing up in a flower-loving family and society, as well as a love of nature, flowers, and animals, has led me to incorporate all of these elements into my artwork. As for why I frequently use the woman theme, I believe it is a reflection of my feelings about our country's and the world's inability to solve the problems that women face.

Ayşe Raziye Özalp’s Spring.

Photo: Jing Zhao © The artist.

Can you tell us a little about your process in making a modern ottoman miniature?

For years after beginning miniature art, I worked on replicas and reproductions of classical miniatures. Of course, these works have been extremely beneficial to me. Yes, art begins with imitation, but it is more than that. If an artist is unable to develop her own style and attitude, she becomes a craftsman rather than an artist. This, contrary to the nature of art and the artist, results in artistic stagnation and regression. Based on this concept, I began to create my own drawings and designs. To avoid repetition, I've always wanted to contribute to this art with new ideas. I acted on the assumption that if the artist develops, so will art.

Ayşe Raziye Özalp’s Musician With Flute.

Photo: Jing Zhao © The artist.

Is this your first solo exhibition in the US? What feelings or reactions do you hope arouse in people who view your work?

Yes, this is my first exhibition in the United States. Of course, I want my exhibited works to be appreciated and to help promote my own art and miniature art.

On your Instagram @ayse_raziye_ozalp, your works that you shared received many comments. Are you ever surprised by comments that you get?

Yes, I receive numerous likes and comments. I was surprised that the majority of these comments were nice and positive. They encouraged me to work harder.

What are you working on next?

I'll resume my miniature art practice as usual from now on.

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