Born in Turhal, Turkey in 1982, and currently residing in Istanbul, Yener Torun’s photographs showcase the lesser-known buildings and side-streets of his adopted city. In recent years, his international following has erupted with major media institutions highlighting his stunning visual symphony. His colourful compositions transform the urban landscape, reframing architecture as geometric abstraction. By hunting for perfect compositions, and waiting patiently for the serendipitous placement of clouds and birds, Yener offers us a meditative take on urban living.
We are pleased to present Yener Torun as the featured artist in Issue 82 of Papirmass (October 2016). Read our full interview with him below.
Tell us about the work we are featuring in Papirmass.
The photo Gone Daddy Gone represents and compliments my colorful and fun teenage years. It’s title was inspired by the Violent Femmes song of the same name. The appearance of the girl in this picture, from a distance, reminded me of a high school sweetheart and at that time I wondered where she was and what she was doing. And actually, that’s what the song Gone Daddy Gone is all about. This song also features two xylophone solos and my crop of the building really looks like a rainbow colored xylophone!
The building in my photo Giant Chalks! is a rainbow-coloured silo which was painted grey when it was first built. Thankfully they made a much better job by rainbow colouring it years later. When I first saw its tube-shaped walls in color, they really reminded of enormous chalks. Even the texture of the walls was chalk-like. As a kid, I loved playing (and drawing) with colorful markers and chalks and seeing this brought back some joyful childhood memories. This photo, with all its positivity, is an homage to my childhood.
I love taking pictures of clouds, especially lonely ones. I kind of adopt them and offer them company. And this place is where I collect (or let’s say reserve) them. Well, at least, that’s how I imagined when I saw the cloud approaching to the center of the frame. The lighting was not the best and post-production session was quite overwhelming, but the end product is that the photo The Reservoir is one of my favourite images.
What themes do you address in your work?
I try to tell personal stories by repurposing the places I find, and I try spread positive vibes by adding some humour.
What have you learned about yourself through being an artist?
I learnt that I knew nothing! For my work I always visit new cities, meet new people and discover new places. In time, these discoveries turn into self-discoveries, and have inspired me to build my own style. Eventually, I started to produce more personal and introspective works of art. There are always new things to learn and many ways to improve yourself. Now I experiment more and try to evolve my art constantly.
Describe your studio space or where you work:
It’s actually a room in my house. I have a desk and a computer, and that’s pretty much it! I mostly work outdoors but I recently started experimenting with artificial lighting and I am considering turning one of my rooms into a home studio.
What is the most important item in your studio/workspace?
My computer for sure.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Being featured in some of the biggest media outlets such as The Guardian and The Washington Post was quite a big thing for me. As was being hired by Google to shoot a 20-photo set of wallpapers for their Android operating system. I was really proud of the end product.
What is your favourite place in the world?
Prague. Probably the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen in my life. Next year I’m planning to visit once again.
What role do artists play in society?
Artists are the ones who find a way to engage with people, to touch their souls and ignite their emotions. Artists provoke people to think differently by pushing boundaries with their outside-the-box ideas and creations. Artists provide society with emotion and colour.
Do you think creativity is innate or learned? Why?
Both. I believe that everyone is born with some creativity. We need to use our creativity and problem-solving abilities to learn things, especially by experimenting. Babies try to do anything possible until they learn to use their tiny body parts. But also, creativity can be improved by learning some skills. The greatest creators are the ones who haven’t let anyone/anything block their innate drive to explore and have learned many new skills to use for producing exceptional works.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
You should be extremely open-minded. There are always new themes and subjects to be found. It’s important to be creative and unique without being pretentious. Sincerity is a key for success. It is always good to be enthusiastic about what you’re doing. Being self-aware helps you to realize your capabilities or limits and push them harder.
Yener Torun is our October 2016 artist. See more at instagram.com/cimkedi.