My art and colours are my medicine to create a better future for all of us.
My names is Seçil Erel.
I was born in Istanbul, I live and work in London.
I am a visual artist, working across various disciplines with a primary focus on painting.
I graduated from the painting department at the Mimar Sinan Fine Art University with an undergraduate and Masters degrees. Over two decades, I have been exhibiting in solo and group exhibitions as well as art fairs, starting in Turkey and expanding into Europe, United States and most recently in the United Kingdom. Throughout my career, I have lectured in universities, took part in specialist conferences and symposia and participated at artist residencies. To date, I published an artist book with publisher Istanbul Graphic Museum of Arts and exhibition monographs on the occasion of my solo shows at Gallery Zilberman and Gallery Milli Reasurans, both in Istanbul.
Upon locating to London in 2017, with my daughter as a sole mother, I started to build a new set of associations, collaborations while familiarising myself with the UK art scene, while continuing to honour my existing bonds with Istanbul and the art scene in Turkey. Receiving a London Creative Network scholarship enabled me to further my studies in artist business development. Receiving the shortlist for the 253rd Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, 2021 brought me a vote of confidence in furthering my work in the UK.
I am not only involved in art production but its dissemination as a body of knowledge, thus I set up a series of artist-led sessions (Art Club) in order to support participants in tuning with their inner creativity. Furthermore, I volunteer for social responsibility projects and work with children, people with disabilities, and women in need.
On my practice
I think of myself as a dreamer who gets excited by the unknown future. For me, the idea of the future represents newness in ideas, conversations where I anchor myself with a new breath of air and sense of presence. I believe that awareness of one's own creativity and potential are guiding principles for a better and happier future for us individually and together as a whole.
In the light of this approach, I invest in the advancement of my work and my person to get better everyday, and find outlets to grow and nourish my surroundings. I believe a mindful, spiritual and energetic alignment is where my creativity and artistic ingenuity resides. Colour and texture provide the basis on which I introduce movement through metronome repetition with ideas of attaining harmony through layering and composing in conversation with light as a protagonist of the painting.
Every piece I make, represents a set of emotions, an array of ideas which denote physical, mental and energetic fields of resonance. With each work, I aim to call upon the fact that another way of thinking and seeing the world is possible. The series of paintings I produce comes with a story that relays conceptions of life and its manifestations on my concerns of care: human rights, diversity, sustainability, boundaries, and borders.
I continue my works in my showroom and studio in Muswell Hill, give workshops in my second studio in Waterloo at Make Space Studios.
From Geometric Paintings to To Universal Fragments
My earlier works signify the strong connection and inspiration I had with geometry as a form of thinking and relaying composition.The layered and multi-coloured paintings emerged as geometrical compositions in the 2000’s. I believe, employing a grid as a format and building a painting through lines of colour helped me to bridge concepts of unity and space until recently, most significantly till 2019.
This shift coincides with the time that I have been going through a personal interrogation and exploring my relationship with reality as it were. My urge to unearth an inherent structure, a recurring motif of life charged by my questioning of notions of belonging, and personal and physical boundaries led me to try and map this inquiry onto the canvas through the use of colour and light. This mapping I started was different to my traditional gestures of building a painting: more unprecedented and more intuitive… This brought me closer to expressionist compositions. In a way I dived into the micro scale of my paintings and each grid from an earlier work informed the new painting, as if I excavated through the layers and earthed new connections.
Furthermore, divorcing in 2017 was the main reason for me to locate to London and take custody of my daughter. I believe this personal experience had a tremendous impact on my practice, leading me to focus on my sense of self, my spiritually and my connection with nature. I started to focus beyond the physically visible, tapping into my consciousness and spiritual awareness.
Modular Infinity: interactive Installation with units
Technically oil painting has been my main medium since my studies. Alongside the large to medium and small scale oil paintings, I recently started working on the design of an interactive painting installation entitled Infinity that is composed of hundreds of small canvases that I call them units which are 5 x 5 cm and 10 x 10 cm.>
Infinity, stems from lockdown exercises that I set to myself as a way of meditating on a smaller scale and as a means of creating an area of play. It has supported me in staying positive and attentive to my process of working with paint.
As an interactive installation, I encourage the audiences to engage with the work, touch the units, take them out to place them in a different part of the painting. I devised three versions for this interactive installation:
- On a 2Dimensional surface of a magnetic plate
- On a 3Dimensional surface of a cube made of magnetic plates
- On a portable 2Dimensional surface which the audiences can take home to activate
Furthermore, I am working on a print edition and most significantly on a digital version of Infinity. The digital version will be created online and will enable audiences from far flung places to be able to engage with the work and produce their own compositions.
I keep a diary of the colours I use in my paintings, which has now become an extensive archive that I have been keeping for a decade. I exhibited my diaries as well as continued to work on mixing colours for new works.
2004-2007 Mimar Sinan Guzel Sanatlar University, Istanbul, MFA Institute of Social Science, Painting Department
1999-2003 Mimar Sinan Guzel Sanatlar University, Istanbul, BFA Painting Department
2019 “A Separate Reality”, Gallery Milli Reasurans, Istanbul
2017 " Possibilities", Work at the Yard, New York
2016 “Bird’s Eye View” Siyah Beyaz Gallery, Ankara
2016 “As Is”, Gallery Merkur, Istanbul
2014 "Territory", Gallery Zilberman, İstanbul
2012 "The Initial Home - Leia" AlanIstanbul , Istanbul
2011 “Simple Present Tense”, CDA Projects, Istanbul
2009 “Lonely Moment”, Mithatpaşa Art Gallery, Ziraat Bank, Ankara
2001 "The End ", Personal Studio Space, İstanbul
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2022 Work on Paper, Blue Shop Cottage, London
2022 Habitat, Contemporary Six, Manchester
2021 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London
2021 Non Prescription II, Ekav Art gallery, Istanbul
2020 Idle Thoughts, Gallery Soho Revue, London
2020 Abstract Art, Rise Art, Venue, London
2018 99 Square, Gallery Arton, Istanbul
2018 Collection, Arab British Chamber of Commerce, London
2018 FICF, Germany & Netherland
2018 Less is Bore, Artnivo, Istanbul
2017 Interstices, Art Else Where, Stour Space Gallery, London
2017 "Schnittstelle Istanbul", Eller Kultur Bahnhof, Dusseldorf, Germany
2017 "Imago Mundi", Mediterranean Route, Palermo, Italy
2017 "Artificial Nature" with Coskun Demirok, Schloss Neersen Gallery, Düsseldorf
2016 “Multiples”, Kuad Gallery, Istanbul
2015 “Encounter” Imoga Art Gallery, Istanbul
2015 “Exhibition of 20th Anniversary”, Milli Reasurans Art Gallery, Istanbul
2015 Trelex Art Residency Open Studio and Exhibition, Geneva,
2015 “The Nominative Case”, Casa Dell’arte, Torba, Bodrum
2015 “Fine Tuned and Multiple”, Kuad Gallery, Istanbul
2015 “Nothing Exceptional”, Gallery Konrad Moenter, Dusseldorf
2014 “Small is Beautiful”, Kuad Gallery, Istanbul
2014 “Topology”, PG Art Gallery, Istanbul
2014 “A Gift For Nazım”, Nazım Hikmet Culture Center, Istanbul
2013 “ODTU Art 14”, ODTU, Ankara
2012 Art Platform, Los Angeles, Gallery Zilberman, Los Angeles
2011 “Now I Am Not Here”, Kervansaray, Istanbul
2010 “Exhibition of the Century”, Collection of T.C. Ziraat Bank, Cer Modern, Ankara
2010 “Cold Elements”, Akademililer Art Center, Istanbul
2010 “Young Artists”, MKM, Istanbul
2009 “My Name is Casper”, 216 Zone, Sümerbank&Karsı Art Works, Istanbul
2009 “Memory Book: Moda”, 216 Thinking And Production Zone, Istanbul
2009 Summart Campus 09, Moldova
2005 “Young Expansion” in Contemporary Turkish Art, Pera Museum, Istanbul
2005 “Multicultural Idendity: Cultural Heritage, Art, Image”, Ankara & Eskisehir
2002 “Taste”, Is Bank Parmakkapı Art Gallery, Istanbul
2003 Visibility Project, Büyük Sadıkpaşa Apt.,Galata Perform, İstanbul
2021 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition
2019 LCN, EU Artist Business Development, Scholarship
2016 Artist Of The Year Award by Farplas
2009 RH + Young Artist /2008, Private Award
2016 La Maison de Barbara, Ayvalık, Türkiye
2015 Trelex Residency, Geneva, Switzerland
SYMPOSIUM & WORKSHOPS
2019 Povital Moment, LCN+Space, London
2017 2.nd Workshop of Nilüfer, Bursa
2015 Boll Werk, Lepsien Art Foundation, Dusseldorf
2014 Dreams Academy Kaş, Antalya
2009 Training program With Sarkis, Istanbul Modern Museum
2009 Summart Campus, Moldova
2004 Litography Workshop, Aksanat, Istanbul
2002 Iş Bank, "Taste" Workshop, Istanbul
2002 Borusan Exlibris Studio, Istanbul
2021 Meet the Artist with Phin Jennings, Avenue Saint James, London
2016 United Nation Women Entrepreneurship Day, Aksoy Holding, Istanbul
2016 “As Is”, Speakers: Seçil Erel, Emre Zeytinoğlu, Gallery Merkur, Istanbul
2014 “Territory", Speakers : Seçil Erel, Fırat Arapoğlu, Gallery Zilberman,İstanbul
2020 Review , Life and Art with Seçil Erel, Publisher: Rise Art, writer Phin Jennings
2019 A Separate Reality, Milli Reasürans Art Gallery, writer: Fatoş Üstek
2016 Seçil Erel Artist Monograph, Publisher: IMOGA (Istanbul Museum Of Graphic Museum) writer Emre Zeytinoğlu
2015 Bora Collection, Publisher: Summart
2015 Imoga Mundi, Istanbul Codex, Publisher: Benetton Foundation
2010 Exhibition of the Century”, Publisher: T.C. Ziraat Bank