Murat Yildirim’s Cult of the Classical

Murat Yildirim is a digital artist originally from Istanbul. His artistic career began with painting where he was inspired by his Grandma who also used to paint, before turning to the digital, eventually focusing specifically on three-dimensional works. His images (both pictorial stills and short animated sequences) are hypnotic, completely engaging the viewer through their innovation and their surreal quality.

Leftovers III, Murat Yildirim, 2020

Yildirim says that art is a way through which he simultaneously is able to feel special yet universal. Through art, he is able to move beyond merely looking and access the deeper sensation of seeing. The artist feels as though art is a way in which one is able to understand the world and the people within it further. He identifies art as a language, universally understood by all people. Through this language, he wishes to communicate with the viewers of this art on a wide scale. He understands that graphic art is the most important medium for working artists at this time yet he also believes that in order to create digital art successfully one must have a knowledge of classical art principles in order to fully immerse aesthetic perception into the technology of design. The combination of the past and present is achieved successfully amongst his works and creates a sense of a new way of seeing the familiar that has proved incredibly popular with online viewers.

Furry Girl with a Pearl Earring, Murat Yildirim, 2020

His Furry Artworks are what he describes as his pandemic masterpiece. This series sees a selection of some of the most recognised artworks given a furry, living doppelganger. Having studied classical painting, he carries this with him into his current works. Reshaping some of the most infamous paintings from art history in a highly modern and innovative form, Yildirim gives these images a new sense of extraordinary. He created these works by forming fur that moves in the direction of the scanned brushstroke. Avoiding typical imitation of these paintings, he transforms them with his unique technique. He challenges the viewer to see these compositions again for the first time, disrupting what we now expect when looking at them and forcing a new perception that goes beyond the ordinary. Embedded in these images is an overwhelming tactility that makes the viewer want to reach out and touch the work, enveloping their hand into the dense fur. This in turn highlights the distance that is strictly maintained between viewer and canvas as the painting is often kept behind a barrier or even bulletproof glass. Using this tactile element draws attention to the human desire to engage physically, mentally, and spiritually with the work on display. Yildirim allows us to indulge in notions of touching, feeling and meshing with the artwork through his use of Cinema 4D technology. Seeing these works in this unusual way shows how the art world (and the wider world in general) is a process of constant inspiration and riffing on what came before. We enjoy seeing a reimagining of what is already familiar to us, a tendency that Yildirim brilliantly engaged within the Furry Artworks. The popularity of these works, made in the first three months of lockdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak, has allowed the artist to attain further work that will come to fruition later this year.

The Being, Murat Yildirim, 2020

Yildirim continues to combine the old with the new in works such as The Being where a classical statue of goddess Venus seems to emerge from a pink pearlescent mould, suggesting that classical art is still the basis of contemporary art. This is just one of his works that feature a dreamlike atmosphere. His series Leftovers is particularly surreal, featuring exotic animals (a naked cat, zebra, blue whale, flamingoes, penguins, and a giraffe) positioned in peacefully empty interiors and landscapes alongside a plate of raw meat. Each image captures a sense of luxury, solitude and remarkableness in the beautifully rendered light and the unusualness of the scene.

Pearl VI, Murat Yildirim, 2020

Yildirim’s Pearl series really showcases the artist's talent. The smooth reflective surface of the pearls in each of the six images displays his mastery of light and colour. He captures the detail of the pearl’s surface to a heightened degree and places it within a number of fantastical landscapes of vast expanses of pink-toned sand, coral rock formations and turquoise waters. The overall effect is something from another planet of astounding beauty. The final image in the series Pearl VI recalls once again this return to the classical as the large pearl takes centre stage in this simple composition. Yet it is veiled with a sheet of reflective organza fabric, making a study of light and subtle colour shifts that occur upon a reflective surface. Pearl VI is a hyper-realistic yet dreamlike image of astounding quality and aesthetic beauty.

Having already worked with popular music streaming service Apple Music to create super surreal and ethereal playlist covers for ‘Apple Music’s New Artist: Turkey’, adding a local flare within the cover art, we are likely to see a lot more of Murat Yildirim’s work in the commercial world in the near future.

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