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Belkıs Balpınar's Anatolian Rugs

Belkıs Balpınar is a researcher, lecturer and co-author of various books on Anatolian rugs. She has taken the kilim beyond its traditional form and dimension by enhancing it with movement and depth. Belkıs Balpınar had studies at the Fine Arts Academy in Istanbul. Afterwards she served as curator of the Carpet Section of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art and as Director of the Vakıflar (Foundations) Carpet and Kilim Museum in Istanbul. Since 1986, her career as scholar and artist has moved towards modern fiber art as a textile art designer, bridging the old with the new and novel.

You will discover more about her at the following interview, which she has kindly given to "mymerhaba".

Q: Why kilim?
BALPINAR: As a former museum curator and a researcher on Turkish carpets and kilims I want to use the 'kilim structure' that I know. Moreover painted canvas cannot give you the warmth of the colors and and texture of a kilim. . Furthermore when kilims are hung in a stone or masonry building they will keep in the heat and absorb the noise

Q: What are the materials you use?
BALPINAR: I use traditional materials such as hand-combed, hand-spun sheep wool and the natural dyes, which were used for antique kilims. I even use areas of knotted pile parts to give my work more depth.

Q: In some of your pieces several spatial planes are observed. What is your main inspiration?
BALPINAR: I am trying to comprehend the vastness of the universe and our being. In order to find some answers to my questions, I read recent publications on modern physics. I am fascinated by the "uncertainty principle" of quantum mechanics and by the extra dimensions of string theory. Therefore I try to suggest extra dimensions in my work.

Q: How do you begin designing your kilims? Do you use the traditional pencil and paper or have also started using more advanced technology?
BALPINAR: Although I still do my sketches with pencil and paper, for any changes I want to make, I scan my design to my computer and work on it. I can produce realistic preview designs before they are woven by pasting computer-generated kilim weave structure onto my sketches; This way I am able to create individual designs, made-to-order, and print them out or send them to a person who wants to commission a piece from me via e-mail for approval. For example for the entrance of one of the World Bank buildings in Washington D.C. I worked like that. The Art Curator of the World Bank came to Istanbul and we selected several of my designs. Later I prepared digital images showing kilim structure and e-mailed them for a final selection and then had the design woven for them.

Q: Did you make other commissioned works?
BALPINAR: I have done some commissioned pieces and a series of pieces for The Marmara Manhattan Hotel in New York.

Q: Do you ever repeat your designs?
BALPINAR: No two of my artkilims are identical, although I have to repeat a few of my most popular designs; in order to ensure the uniqueness of each piece I have always varied the colors and proportions.

Q: Is it possible to have the names of some of the collectors of your pieces?
BALPINAR: Mauruccia Prada Milan, TV Film Director Larry Zanitsky Los Angeles, art collector Bernard Chappard New York, kilim Collector Ignazio Vok Padova, Türk Ekonomi Bank Istanbul, World Bank Washington D.C.

Q: Have you tried weaving a kilim ?
BALPINAR: I know weaving well, when I supervise my weavers this knowledge allows me to help them to execute difficult unusual drawings. But, no, I don't believe that I have the patience to weave a kilim myself.

Q: Your work is described as " modern kilims", "mural/wall kilims", "woven paintings", and "contemporary artkilims" in publications.Which definition do you find more suitable?
BALPINAR: I do not want to be pretentious, but "artkilim" seems to be quite a nice new made up word. I want to stress that I do not mean the traditional kilims cannot be considered as art pieces. With the word "kilim" I want to indicate the "tapestry" like weft-faced woven structure.

Q: What about your plans for the near future?
BALPINAR: I am planning exhibitions in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo and Tokyo. I would like to organize an exhibit surrounded by the beautiful colored rocks of Capaddocia.

Balpınar's art has been included in several group and solo exhibitions through the world. New York, Princeton, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Stockholm, Caracas, Milan, Istanbul and recently Ankara are the cities where she displayed the retrospective works she had completed between 1989 and 2002.

Her works have been featured in articles published in numerous magazines and Newspapers including: Connoisseur, Elle Decor, Interior Design, Designer West, Washington Post-Home Section, Los Angeles Times, Sotheby's Guide The Oriental Carpets, Beautiful Home, Skylife, Cornucopia, The New York Times, Cartier Art and various other Turkish publications.

You can contact her at: bb (at) belkisbalpinar.com


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