In the midst of the pandemic, when many artists saw their lives turned upside down, Ozge Topko decided to rent a studio in Campo de Ourique. The Turkish plastic artist has recently moved to the Portuguese capital and needs a place to store materials and work. But it didn’t stop there: Taking advantage of a street window, he began asking artists from all over the world to send their works by mail, to the nearby landmark, and then display them behind glass.
Now, in the Hypercube Project Space, Ozge’s work is beginning to sympathize with some of these works that, she explains, are “out of the box” for an exhibition that blends styles, media, and nationalities. “This is a continuation of my work,” says the artist, sitting in her whitewashed studio in Rua Almeida and Sousse. “I’ve always loved working in public spaces and collaborating with people.”
The name of the space is not accidental either. “Hypercube is a geometric figure – it is a cube in four dimensions,” in the blink of an eye about his love of architecture and history, but also a vision that came to him by “combining several artists in one space.” “This is not an art gallery, this is an art space where everyone is welcome and they can suggest projects.” The only requirement, in addition to wanting to share the space, is that it is inspired by different disciplines – sign, mathematics, digital art, experimental art, etc.
Ozge herself loves to experiment and create “different things, using different techniques,” depending on when and where you live. For example, his work in Istanbul was more “architectural, inspired by the history of a city through which many civilizations passed.”
Born in 1987 in Kırklareli, in the European part of Turkey, to a family that had nothing to do with the arts, Özge started studying science, but says that when she lives in Istanbul – where she moved after high school – “You have to be an artist. We have no other choice. It is a city Dynamic and inspiring.” Even today, “It’s my first love.”
The idea to leave Turkey came to him after graduation, after he went to Germany for his master’s degree at Burg Giebchischenstein Kunsthochschule Halle, near Berlin. From there he went to the UK, where he lived for a few months with his British friend. With the schedule split between Berlin, London and Istanbul, Özge decided he wanted to find a place where he could focus on his work – “without having two jobs just to survive like it happens in London.” Passionate about life in the big cities, but eager to escape the exorbitant prices of some of the big capitals, two and a half years ago, she ended up choosing Lisbon.
Why Lisbon? “Because it is very similar to Istanbul [risos]. Özge ensures that he feels ‘culturally comfortable’ here, and highlights the similarities between the residents of Lisbon and Istanbul. People are not as individualistic as in Northern Europe, they are more tolerant,” he asserts, not forgetting that “everything here in Lisbon has a human scale.”
Today he lives in Portugal, although he usually spends three months a year in Istanbul. After all, two cities have a lot of similarities, like the similarities between the history of Portugal and Turkey – “both were once great empires” but today are societies that “believe there are more important things than money”.
Portugal, of course, was the inspiration for Ozge’s art. For example, Terrania’s installation honors earth and earth as a material. “In big cities, you can hardly see the soil, plants and nature,” explains the artist, happy to live in an apartment where you can see the land through the window. For Terrania, she did not hesitate to collaborate with the Portuguese potters, from the Algarve, Alentejo and Setúbal region, and also to alert the need to protect the planet and the environment.
Despite her first choice of flag, Ozge ensured that she always felt like an artist. At the age of five, he started learning music and played many instruments. But he ended up switching to fine art. “I don’t do exactly what people think artists do. I like to innovate in my world, but above all to create a vision,” she explains, surrounded by works ranging from ceramics to painting or drawing. And if it weren’t for the coronavirus, he might never have ventured to go digital. “I liked working outdoors rather than sitting in front of the computer,” she says, but the pandemic has made her understand the importance of connecting with people through virtual reality.
It was at this time that the idea of Hypercube emerged – a space as “an incubator for new ideas and new artists, for sharing and solidarity”. Referring to the corner of the studio, in the work Setsuna, by Ayumi Adachi, Ozge explained that it came by mail from Japan during the epidemic, in a vacuum package, and when he opened it, it expanded. “I realized that artists need to see their work. And also outside their countries. Especially when you can’t travel,” he says. This is how Post Box galleries were created, the works that were in the window in confinement jumped into the studio. This is also the case for the works of the German Tobias Becker or the Portuguese Susana Moreira. But the door is open to more artists.
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