Gültekin Bilge (pronounced Beelgay) is a Turkish Cypriot Artist, born in Cyprus, 1945. He received his M.A. from the Istanbul Academy of Fine Arts where he studied under Devrim Erbil and Ali Çelebi before graduating in 1972 from the atelier of Dinçer Erimez. Bilge was unable to paint for many years after losing the use of his right hand when he was shot in the 1974 Cyprus War. During recovery he worked as an art teacher whilst following developments in contemporary art and searching for ways to create his own unique style that could be recognised as having roots in the Turkish tradition. For many years Bilge was dissatisfied with his works and destroyed them. Since moving to the UK in 2011 his work has been exhibited internationally throughout Europe and in the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan. During this period he has also received numerous awards. His works are held in private collections in UK, Cyprus, Turkey, Germany, USA and Japan.
Artist Statement - The mother thought or central concept of my work is concealment. My artworks point towards what is hidden and question why this happens. Nobody can know all that is inside another person. I see that human beings hide or partially mask their thoughts, feelings and motivations, even in many cases from themself. I observe that human relationships are not open and there are many hidden agendas in personal, social and political life. I came to understand this psychology by watching the decisions, behaviours and actions of individual people around me and observing the political decisions and actions of nation states. When I look to nature, all my life I could see expressive faces hidden in the trees, rocks, stones, pebbles, waterfalls, rivers and clouds. My idea is that faces hidden in nature are a metaphor for the way humans hide their thoughts, feelings and motivations. In my art I join these two observations to show that many things in human society are obscured. I achieve this by concealing many abstract faces inside the colours and textures of my works in the same way that I see these faces hidden in nature. Of course, many people do not see these hidden portraits in my paintings in the same way that they don’t see them in nature. I want to show that most people only notice superficial aspects of external reality and question why so many people do not perceive what is happening below the surface. Most people don’t recognise that much goes on in a secret dialogue, behind closed doors or beneath the veil. In my artworks I explore the reasons for this hiding from deeper reality. I question why people are content to sleepwalk through life, blind to what is happening around them. I want my paintings to help people wake up from the effects of social conditioning and brainwashing so that they can see what’s really going on in the world.