The Buoyancy of Water and Bloody Rats of Sydney - Mertim Gokalp

Artist Mertim Gokalp Dates 27 September 2011
2 October 2011
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Event Summary

Mertim was born in 1981 on a hot summer’s day in Turkey.  He did not have much of a weight then. He was only 2.25 kgs but full of hair. He looked like a small kitten. Mertim’s family was shocked to see how small he was. But then they had no choice but get used to this as Mertim was going to be smaller than peers at all times.  When they saw him crawling backwards they had the second shock. There was something extraordinary about Mertim, but what?

When he was about 5, he started to draw pictures by himself. He was probably influenced by her mother who was interested in painting as an amateur.  One day, he was with his aunt. His aunt was talking on the phone for ages and he was bored to dead. He decided that he needed to find something fun to engage himself and started to draw one of his aunt’s dolls.  When he finished drawing, her aunt was still on the phone. He showed the picture to her and it took 20 seconds for her to make a comment. She was shocked as if she encountered with an alien. When his family saw the picture, they realized that he had a special talent for drawing.  Then, he started to get tutoring from a professional artist for one and a half year. However, Mertim lost his interest in painting with the coming school year. His interest in music replaced with a new interest in music. In adolescence, the major things influenced him the most: the night terrors he used to have because of high fever and the psychedelic music and lyrics of Pink Floyd. He had a number of attempts of gathering a rock band together.  His main aspiration of becoming a rock star for long years ended with a phone call when he was 19. Her mother, on the other side of the phone, was saying that his father was dead.

In this period, he met with his future wife Melodi, his inspiration, companion and muse.  Melodi revived his interest in painting and encouraged him to take the drawing skills test of the most prestigious art school of Turkey.  Mertim was in top ten out of 4000 people.  This is how he started to study painting in university.

University years were financially challenging.  After the death of his father, he had to look after the family as the eldest child. Therefore, he started to work in a professional photography studio.  He studied and worked simultaneously and finished his bachelor degree in 7 years. Upon graduation, he started to work as an assistant to an established artist. With his first savings, Melodi and Mertim travelled Europe by train and visited many museums to see the works of his academic inspirations. Travelling became addictive.  They also visited US to see some of the major works of contemporary art.

When he was 27, they decided to move overseas for a life change.  Having seen Europe and US, Australia seemed to be the right choice for new experiences. In 2009, they moved to Sydney.  He had painted his first works in Australia in their small garage. After settling down, Mertim moved to his studio in Balmain and still continues to work there.

His works were exhibited in number of place and he became finalist in a number of major art prizes (see resume for details). Recently, he became the winner of people’s choice award in Real Refuses- the Democratic Archibald Exhibition with his portrait of Paul Fenech. “Wet Paul” is part of his new water series.  Some of his works will be exhibited in Hunter’s Hill Exhibition 2011.

Apart from travelling and photography, he has a special interest in cooking.

He still plays the guitar occasionally.

Nowadays, he is trying to learn how to play tennis.

Recently, they travelled to Thailand and Cambodia.