I felt deeply impressed with the paintings of the artist Lolita Asil, when I regarded them carefully. They seem familiar somehow and they take you to a journey to the far lands. They first take you to a visit along the universe then they remind you about your own individualism. I read an interview of Miss Lolita after a while. It seems this was her aim in the first place: To introduce human to the individuals who want to know about the universe.
Lolita Asil, a marginal artist. Why marginal? Seeing the life within corpses and reflecting it onto paintings is not easy. She achieved a very hard work. When we were conversing with Lolita Asil about her new exhibition named “Lifelines”, the subject kept coming to the very point which reflects on her artworks: “If you want to learn about the universe, you have to look first to the human being.”
The artist has been focusing solely on human since last 4-5 years. Her marginality is derived from the communication she has built with corpse’s pieces. How many artists on this earth, have ever participated into autopsies during the time she or he performed his/her art? According to Asil, “The lines of a human being which lie deep or on the surface are corresponding in a sense to the longitude and latitude of the earth.” The exhibition which is held on November 4, at Çağla Cabaoğlu Art Gallery, located in Istanbul Teşvikiye, can be visited till December 2, between 11:00 and 19:00 hours, except for Sundays.
– What have you discovered so far in the relationship of “cell, human and universe” that you’ve been scrutinizing since your previous exhibition?
This exhibition is the reflection of the works I have been performing since 2005. I had tried to look at the human body previously as if I am a physician. I performed corpse works. I drew human, bone-muscle skeleton on the sketch book. Those works have trained me. They helped me to accumulate knowledge. However, it’s not sufficient. I needed to learn other things too. Human being is a whole. I studied the cell, the tissue and the organs. Then I attended autopsies in forensic department, by obtaining a special permission. There I met another human being, a very different aspect of human being. I saw the life one hour post mortem if we consider that he passed away one hour before. For me the life doesn’t end. In fact the life is a whole of what we call past, now and future. I attended autopsies to see it more rapidly.
– What is the meaning you emphasize when you say “For me my life age doesn’t end”?
Our cells start to age and die from the very moment we are born. We do get old every day, every moment. In fact, death exists always. We think only about the old ages and the death which follows it; we believe that the life is all about this. For me the life is limitless. What we call as ‘Lifelines” are in fact is a whole; they have processors and successors. However, I rather tried to understand the wholeness of human being during these five years. Instead of individual relation of each organ with the universe, I looked as the human being as a whole. I had made up my mind in the most astonishing way, after having attended the autopsy. I worked on the human sections which are on the surface or in the deep. I tried to paint them piece by piece. Then I depictured human skulls and heads on my paintings as different human poles. The process which has started by the difference continued as a whole. The human is shown to you the way you think how it is. That’s how you depicture it. No matter you perceive it as a whole or as pieces. Eventually it is both the whole and the pieces which compose that wholeness.
– Human being dies eventually. Divine religions believe to afterlife. What did you observe on the corpses about the post mortem and how did you depicture them? How do you unit on the drawings and sections the relation of post mortem and ante mortem. What do the drawings depict? Are there any differences on those drawings, do they change depending on each human being’s own story?
I don’t depict the death too much by these artworks, I don’t want to talk about it. There is the past, actual life and after this moment, tomorrow, for us tomorrow is postmortem. But I regard onto it as a whole. I am not interested with the soul leaving the body, what matters for me is the soul within the body. Why is it so? I am depicting a meaningful body, carrying within a divine harmony. I am not expressing a finished, rotten body. I am narrating an excellent mechanism, created by a divine harmony. As a whole … To achieve this, it has to be the body which I am drawing just right now, the body which carries all as it is, together with my actual energy. I am a living human being. As you know, the living humans who are also receiving the knowledge, I mean the artists, are creating also by their intuitions, both with their mind and intuitions. I do include both my intuitions and myself, while I am creating. It possesses also a piece of me. It lives if I live. What I want to express is the universal human being. I really do not want to talk too much about death. For it is the most feared subject by human beings. Death is maybe one of the most important matters we couldn’t solve as human beings. Yes, we have a life, it had the past and it will have the future too. My figures look like they will rouse up, just as they will rouse up very soon.
– What do you really mean by saying as they will rouse up very soon?
In fact you said something beautiful when we started, I am exploring. Everything has been created. I do observe and reflect what I think is accurate. I am not creating something new. The sections of death human beings are transformed into figures with closed eyes, which seem to rouse up. That’s what I’ve been through during a period of 4 years and half.
– What does she want to say the real owner of these drawings, do you have any observations or sentiments? I am asking about the deciphering of the meaning which is attributed to the drawings which seem to rouse up.
The subject title of the previous exhibition was “secret, sound, heath and color”. How can you depicture the sound, heat and color of a human being by a drawing. I depicted them but I realized was insufficient.
– Aren’t what you draw the original sections of human beings?
They are the originals. There are two schools in drawing: the first one is the color, the second one is the design. In pattern the lines are emphasized. During my first years, lines had strong influence. I had to leave the color aside. That’s what I did, because I was representing the corpses. I had to bring the pattern to forefront and to emphasize it. Accordingly I encountered a more emphasized line spiral.Those are the lines which wander around the body, in its whole, its depth, forward and backward. I compared them from time to time with the longitude and latitude of the earth.
– Sometimes we see during road enlargement works, the lining up of layers at the excavated hills. Are they those lines, or are you referring to virtual lines of the geography?
When I say longitude and latitude, I mean the lines of the nature which determine our direction. I don’t know why but the longitude and latitude of the earth intrigue me a lot. It’s really hard to explain some matters. There are some aspects I figures out, sensed, put into light so far.
– What are they?
Everything is created in such a harmony; each location and point on the longitudes and coordinates are related to our life. There are evidences on them. It’s not a coincidence that I was born in Istanbul. Isn’t it predetermined where I will be born and die? It is absolutely determined. Everything has been created according to a determined harmony since the very beginning. What we call the plan of the fate exists on these lines. In fact it exists on the latitudes also.
– You are talking about a relation between lines and fate?
Absolutely. Everything about our life and time.
– Are there traces on a corpse’s lines regarding what that person has been through and what she o rhe has done, can they be read?
I may advance that far with my own drawings but the time I spend next to a corpse doesn’t exceed 60 minutes. The time I spend in an autopsy doesn’t exceed 30 minutes.
– You’re saying that the lines are absolutely bound with the fate but…
As I said previously, everything is interrelated. You may not see instantly on a corpse what I told previously. I am depicting through painting what I see anyway. I wanted to depict everything through lines. Everything has been created with a linear harmony. Cross sections of trees, the plants, human skulls… Looking to a skull, it can be said what was your age when you are dead; looking to the lines of iris in the eye, it can be said what illnesses you had, how long you lived, what’ you’ve been through… Science acknowledges all of them but there are so many facts we couldn’t figure out, we don’t know … I think artists make fearless steps compared to other people.
– Do you ever discuss with physicians, especially with forensic physicians what you’ve seen or observed? What do they say?
Prof. Dr. Gürsel Çetin from Forensic Department said when I was attending autopsies that he was performing dozens of autopsies per day, that however after having seen my paintings, after having met me, he realized what an easy crossing exists between human being and the cases in the autopsy or the drawings in anatomy books. This is very interesting also, the realities seem to be very eccentric when they are painted by artists. However it is not the case at all. I am showing what exists. I am trying to show the splendid structure within human being. But it is a fact that what is shown, may not always see.
– What you show is totally real, not surreal…
– Do the lines carry inside messages regarding the lives of the person they belong to? He is a person who thinks a lot, this person was a fun-loving, this one was enduring in silence, etc. Maybe although you may not see, have you ever given the thought that this can be possible?
Not only painters but all artists, for example actors may analyze the character of a living person and make observations. Analyzing the character by looking to the face of a person…. What I am talking about is not the outer lines only. My paintings include first the inner ones, the ones which are in the depth, the lines of the skull, then comes the outer ones, the lines which are on the face. The lines become shallow and recondite when they are close to the surface. Just like wearing a mask, they do not let too much information to escape out. Do you know how the faces exhibited at the second section of my exhibition hit people’s face? Think of the double repetition of a face. People who seem to be the same from outside, but who have different depths. There are babies who are born on the same time from same parents, but they are not the same. Didn’t the number of people who are trying to look like each other, as if they are wandering around wearing masks, increase? This situation is really disturbing. As an artist I experience constant interactions. What I am saying is that we have to be frank. While we produce, work, shake hands…, It is much clearer, without having a mask on your face … Just it is the case for our bones. Because even our thoughts can change bone structure.
– When we go to the deepest parts of human beings, do we encounter the truth, which is the core? Does the line attain at some point the final point of evolution?
What I am talking about here, is something that doesn’t end. I am not stating that this line begins here and ends there. If the universe is what I am talking about here, maybe it’s the best way for me to find the direction. This is the moment when we find our own direction accurately. Yet I am not talking about something that ends.
– Do the lines direct us towards the divine point?
They can direct to anything. They will direct you towards whatever you think. Human beings have free will, besides the plan of the fate. The mistakes we make are directing us towards different directions. That’s when our plan shifts into a different direction. What I really want to tell is not the fate in the lines. Yet everything is explained. If we are talking about the human being, the God and the universe, God exists in them for sure. The subject is too wide. Whatever one wants to see, will see it in my artworks. They are pictures appealing to a certain level of mind.
– Do you have any works concerning the brain which is a very complicated organ?
I have painted the spinal cord several times. Two of my figures see open brains. Body and soul, mind and emotion, both gain considerable prominence together. When I tried to depict the brain all alone, I always painted, as much as we can see with our eyes, the part of the spinal cord which we call the long line and which is brain’s ending point. Let me tell you in a very clear way that when I first painted the brain I thought of leaving painting.
I had great difficulty. Neither by mind, nor my heart could support it. It’s extremely hard. If you do handle it with your heart, cordially, it means that you start to learn all the knowledge it possesses. I realized how complicated it is, the difficulty of the inner systematic structure, how impossible it is to solve it, my body refused to support it. When I painted the heart and the brain separately, I thought of leaving for both times. My stamina was almost zeroed. If you want to learn about the universe, you will first look at the human being. After having questioned the cell, the human and the universe, I am now dealing only with human beings since 4-5 years.