Interview with the emerging artist Selver Yıldırım


Selver Yıldırım is a promising emerging contemporary artist from Turkey.

She was born in 1993, is an accomplished artist who completed her undergraduate education at Yıldız Technical University in the Combined Arts Program.

I am a Sisyphus who pushes the rock with a smile.
Selver Yildirim

Since 2013, she has participated in numerous art projects, group, and solo exhibitions.

selver yıldırım's surreal mountain paintings with expressive faces, created during her artist residency in cappadocia, turkey
Selver Yıldırım: Artworks Produced During Her Artist Residency in Cappadocia, Turkey. These captivating pieces showcase surreal landscapes with expressive, almost human-like mountain forms, blending natural and imaginative elements seamlessly. | Photo Courtesy by the Artist

Yıldırım's work spans 3D modeling, digital painting, assemblage, and plastic art.

Her unique approach involves creating surreal spaces using light cracks, blurred lines, shadows, and overlapping layers. Her works often explore apocalyptic themes, presented with a playful and ironic twist.

We asked Selver Yıldırım a few questions about her art, recent developments, and her residency in Cappadocia, Turkey.

Can you talk about your early inspirations and how you turned towards a career in art?

I was lucky in terms of my career because my mother was more of an observer and guide rather than an interventionist.

As a Marxist teacher, she was experienced in recognizing and nurturing a child's talent.

Selver Yildirim: Artist Selfie and her work of art on a sweater | Photo courtesy by the Artist

She always encouraged me toward art and design, ensured I participated in art competitions, and supported my interests.

Most artists draw inspiration from their childhood.

When I think of my earliest inspirations, spending my years from 0-6 in Cappadocia Ürgüp, a surreal town with fairy chimneys, giant balloons flying in the sky, mud pottery, carpets, and venomous scorpions, is quite significant for my art.

My amorphous forms indeed resemble Cappadocia. Moving immediately afterward to Kocaeli, a gray industrial city covered with factories and concrete, also influenced my aesthetics and perception of landscapes.

How did your education at Yıldız Technical University shape your artistic style and approach?

I entered the Department of Combined Arts as the fourth-ranked student.

It was a fantastic department encompassing all arts with courses in painting, sculpture, graphics, ceramics, cinema, dance, and music, making it perfect for me.

Although my first years were very enlightening and developmental, the ever-changing political periods in Turkey every three years unfortunately affected me negatively, just like most students.

From 2013 onwards, the quality of universities and teachers rapidly declined. Moreover, this process is still ongoing.

This situation distanced me from school and made me disillusioned with academia. This has always bothered me.

Your works often include digital images. Can you share your creative process with us?

I think of the start of my creative process as "playing all the instruments." First, I create a polyphonic and abstract problem on the canvas with forms and colors I choose entirely instinctively.

Then the whole process is spent solving this problem, that is, arranging all the instruments in a melodic and rhythmic order, refining or amplifying the sounds, and finally creating a song, a story.

I love tinkering with computer programs and learning new ones. This directly affects my perception of painting.

I’ve been online since I was 7 years old. I still collect visuals on my computer like an old lady and actively run a meme account.

0 on Instagram
1,261 likes, 3 comments - 0______________01_ on December 3, 2023

Instagram Account 0 by Selver Yildirim

Although I spent a long time creating abstract and spiritual paintings during my 11-year painting career, when I started to move towards figurative art, my works began to resemble those I designed digitally.

selver yıldırım's surreal painting of a mountain with a human-like face, inspired by cappadocia
Selver Yıldırım: A Surreal Interpretation of Cappadocia. This painting, created during her residency, features a whimsical, human-like mountain form that blends the natural landscape with imaginative elements

I regurgitate the images I see and consume. After all, the number of emojis I see in a day exceeds the number of trees or fruits I see.

Light and shadow play an important role in your art. How do you use these elements to create new dimensions and surreal spaces?

A friend of mine jokes about me being "the master of dimensions" because there are usually multiple spaces in my paintings.

The painting is already there, standing in front of us, and I want the viewer to wander within the painting and embark on many adventures.

selver yıldırım's surreal painting of a mountain with a surprised human-like face, inspired by cappadocia.
Selver Yıldırım: Expressive Forms Inspired by Cappadocia. This painting, created during her residency, features a mountain with a surprised human-like face, blending natural and imaginative elements.

Creating spaces is like passing through a rabbit hole to another dimension, emerging from a cave, or seeping through cracks – these are the depictions I use.

Even though these spaces communicate with each other, I generally create them separately using the drop shadow trick.

I love drop shadow. Really. Although I love painting with a brush, I use an airbrush just to create that sharp black shadow effect.

Can you share your residency experiences and how this residency affected your art? Which environmental and cultural features of Cappadocia inspired your recent works?

This residency was truly “meaningful” for me because, as I mentioned in the first question, I had the opportunity to go back to the surreal town where I spent my early years at the age of 30 with a residency program.

For someone who draws all their inspiration from their childhood, staying and painting in the place where I was born was magnificent.

Moreover, the Arc Residency took care of me like a baby there.

In the paintings I created, fairy chimneys and caves became the focal points, and instead of my usual sharp colors, I used the town’s low-saturation serene colors.

I think the two best paintings I made in the past year emerged from this residency. 

**Since 2013, you have participated in many art projects and exhibitions. Which ones have been the most memorable or impactful for you?**

Definitely my solo exhibition "0,9999…" at YaYa in December 2022. Exhibiting in YaYa, a 5-square meter showcase in a passage, was great for someone like me who experiences white cube anxiety.

selver yıldırım: close-up of a traditional textile with an embroidered bird in black and pink on a beige woven background.
Selver Yıldırım: Exploring Traditional Textiles. This close-up of an intricate woven design highlights the fusion of cultural heritage and artistic expression in her work.

The most important aspect was the meaning I attributed to this exhibition.

I can summarize the exhibition's theme as "crossing a threshold, transitioning from 0 to 1, the cracking of an egg, a goodbye also being a hello." I knew I was making a closure, and that’s exactly what happened.

@selveryildirim on Instagram: ”“0,99999…” on till Feb siraselvilerde soldaki eczanenin sokagindaki pasajda YaYa 📸 @zeynepfirt”
344 likes, 6 comments - selveryildirim on January 10, 2023: ”“0,99999…” on till Feb siraselvilerde soldaki eczanenin sokagindaki pasajda YaYa 📸 @zeynepfirt”.

Selber Yildirim Exhibition Highlight on Instagram

With a poem, a sculpture, and three paintings, I bid farewell to the old Selver.

How do you approach conceptualizing and implementing a solo exhibition differently from participating in a group exhibition?

Conceptualizing anything is a pleasure for me.

When I immerse myself in the space for solo exhibitions, converse with the works, support them with installation, and create a complete narrative, I can establish a much more direct and satisfying communication with the viewer.

However, I know that what visibly develops my art and broadens my vision is producing and collaborating with other artists.

Therefore, every duo or group exhibition process feels like a good lesson to me.

**What draws you to these themes, and how do you balance a pessimistic outlook with playful and ironic elements? Can you give an example of a work that reflects this contradiction?**

Frankly, I wouldn't call myself a pessimist. "Pessimism in theory, optimism in practice" is how I live. We know resources are running out, and I'm sure we're living in the end times.

Nevertheless, while this awareness of being in the apocalypse makes me theoretically pessimistic and depressive, it has brought me closer to absurdity and made me an absurdist in my art.

Although I am a millennial, I exhibit more of Gen Z's "Fuck it, we ball" attitude.

If I were to give an example from my works: I would show the video I made for a VR exhibition at the Pera Museum


What new directions or projects are you exploring in your current work? Are there any upcoming exhibitions or collaborations you're particularly excited about?

Yes, there are. Even if there weren’t, there’s always a "project" I make up.

First, I will have a solo exhibition at Ambidexter Gallery this year.


Then I will release a series of ceramics and have an exhibition in Berlin in May 2025. Busy but fun days await me.

selver yıldırım blurred spray paint work of a smiling clown with a red nose and expressive eyes
Selver Yıldırım: Blurred Vision of Creativity. This spray paint work captures the whimsical essence of a clown, blending playful expression with artistic technique

I am a Sisyphus who pushes the rock with a smile.

Thank you Selver for the great insights, it was a pleasure!

To dive deeper into her Art Practice, upcoming projects and new works of art follow Selver Yildirim on Instagram.

Yıldırım, ışık çatlakları, bulanık çizgiler, gölgeler ve üst üste binen katmanlarla yeni “boyutlar” açarak sürreal mekânlar yaratıyor. İşlerinde genellikle kıyamet alternatiflerini konu edinirken karamsar bakış açısını şakacı ve ironik bir üslupla ele alıyor.

Online Store with works by Selver Yildirim

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