Culture Weekly

When walls spring to life

June 9 - June 15, 2021
Gulf Weekly When walls spring to life
Gulf Weekly When walls spring to life
Gulf Weekly When walls spring to life
Gulf Weekly When walls spring to life
Gulf Weekly When walls spring to life

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Meaningful murals painted by multi-disciplinary artist Çağla Akpınar have been capturing the attention of art lovers across the kingdom and she hopes her colourful creations raise awareness on an array of issues as well as inspire others to express themselves freely as she does.

The 26-year-old muralist and freelance art teacher, originally from Ankara, Turkey, has been educating youngsters in the art scene as well as beautifying the streets, restaurants and cafes of Bahrain since 2019.

Her aim is to break prejudices, fight ignorance and ‘to be an inspirational source for young and wild spirits who dedicate themselves to art’.

“I want to transform my art to reach people as more than just a visual display,” said the Magna Cum Laude Fine Art graduate from Bilkent University Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture in Turkey.

“I utilise my art to take action and to make change and where my art is not enough to speak, I draw a self-image about myself to better express what I’d like to say.

“I want my art to create a voice for the new generation to stop defining their values with their body and appearance. That is why I hope to become the best version of myself and to keep fighting for women, dreamers, young artists and humanity.”

Her murals can be seen at different restaurants and cafes as well as in private homes. As long as there is a large empty wall to cover, she is there giving it the colours of life.

Her first large piece of work is located in an Asian cuisine restaurant featuring an ‘Asian storyline inside the composition’.

She also has a very detailed wall art in a café in Janabiyah where she painted monumental buildings from around the world in a cityscape form. Another wall art features a huge motorbike for another venue. Recently, she completed a mural for a Bahraini restaurant in Riffa featuring the image of a traditional Bahraini woman with pop art colours.

She also completed a giant mural at a home in Saar and when Covid-19 regulations allow, she will be participating in a group exhibition with the Art Attack Krew. “The Art Attack Krew is a group of young talented artists looking for opportunities to show their artworks to the people and to expand their art experiences and reach the masses,” she said.

“Together, we aim to create more spaces for art, collectively, and support other upcoming artists and young talents by giving art workshops and creating collaborations.

“We will be having our anniversary celebration and exhibition soon. We are just waiting for the current conditions and restrictions to ease because of the pandemic.”

Çağla is best known in the art community and on Instagram as Wicked Rose as she identifies with the beautiful flower and uses it as a symbol in her artwork.

“For me, roses symbolise the power of femininity, the beauty of nature, passion of love, divinity, spiritual enlightenment and wisdom,” said Çağla from Riffa.

“It is a common symbol which differs in meaning depending on movements to beliefs and it has extensive significances depending on cultural, religious and regional features.

“Moreover, I realised that in English the word “rise” has its second form in “rose” and this very fact allows me to add a new layer to the symbolic power of the word.

“It is like being born and growing up while improving and sparkling. Correspondingly, I want to enhance the power and beauty of femininity and breathe life to my sensations as a woman, via my artworks.”

She has accomplished that in Ulus, an old city in Ankara in 2018 where she spray-painted black roses on the walls of different shops and restaurants around the city.

“The reason why I chose black and a rose was to represent the value of women in Turkey,” she said. “Black often represents the emotions and actions of rebellion; mourning, death, grief and sadness. But it can also represent both the positive and the negative.

“While my roses are enhancing the power of femininity, black is also empowering the meaning of it by associating it with rebellion and seriousness.”

Art in all its forms has always been a part of her childhood. She enjoyed ballet, jazz dance and even took guitar and singing lessons, as well as participated in theatre. But painting and drawing is what stole her heart and she found it was the best form of expression for what she wanted to do.

During her artistic pursuit she fell into sculpting, printmaking, illustration work, ceramics, performance art, installation and digital media – although she always felt more comfortable expressing herself through painting and drawing.

Then she explored mural painting in which she would work on larger scaled artwork in a short period of time.  “That is when I realised that I do not have only one method to create,” she explained.

“My artworks feature many varieties of styles and I use different mediums such as acrylic paint, watercolour, spray paint, charcoal, colour pencils and markers. Sometimes, I blend my handmade works with digital painting as well. As for my subject, it’s mainly of portraits and figures with a message.

“I like to mix styles and techniques to create like ‘collage art’. You can see my artworks as semi-realistic, partly surreal, unexpectedly explicit and illustrative with striking colours, shapes, and symbols. Sometimes I write on my artworks since I do like to be provocative and didactic with my art.”

Çağla also completed two artist assistantships with artists Manuel Perez in Murcia, Spain in 2016 and American artist Wyatt Mills in Berlin, Germany in 2017.

“Having such experiences helped me to create new artistic ways to think more communicatively and empowered me to grow,” she added.

“I also hope to achieve my Master’s in the future as I want to be an academician, alongside being an artist, to raise awareness for others to better understand themselves and know that they don’t have to satisfy people’s expectations. I want people to accept and respect their differences.”

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