During the Gezi process, the painter Noyan Yayla has always been critical about the government and reacted to the brutal police interventions through his art, and he has been fired by the Güray Seramik House, where he was working. His ceramic work with the graffiti tag, “Shut up, Tayyip!”written on it was broken into pieces. The incident has aroused the reaction of local people, and the artist sues the gallery.
Noyan Yayla who lives and works in Avanos (a small town near Cappadocia in Anatolia) is known for his paintings on the ceramic objects. The people of Avanos and art circles appreciate Noyan as an important artist who has succeeded in combining the difficult and arduous art of ceramics with painting. Noyan Yayla creates free-style paintings on ceramic plates by using mineral oxide paints in an atelier inside the Güray Seramik House in Avanos. These paintings with the firm’s name on them are presented to the national and international tourists visiting the Cappadocia region. Noyan Yayla has been working for the Güray Seramik House for the last four years.
The boss says, ‘The governor and the prosecutor tend to visit our gallery; we cannot allow this type of art in our house.’
Painter Noyan Yayla tells us how everything has changed in an ordinary day of work: “We were taking a break and playing backgammon with colleagues. We heard some noises coming from the atelier. We thought that something had just fallen down and shrugged it off. But when we checked it later on, we saw that my ‘Gezi Piece’ had been shattered. Even before I had time to ask ‘what’s going on here?’, they said they wouldn’t need my services anymore and told me to go to the accounting department. Of course, there wasn’t anything for me to do at that moment. I understood the situation and just left. The question is not being fired. You can part your ways with people you work with. It’s natural. But there are certain procedures applied in such situations without disrespecting an artist’s work. You cannot just break a work of art like this.”
When we ask why they’ve broken his work, Noyan tries to explain it from the perspective of the firm even though he says he cannot accept any excuse for this attitude: “That work was an expression of my criticism to the government, to its discourse and actions. The firm’s authorities said, ‘The governor and prosecutor are our regular clients. We cannot allow this in our firm.’ Also, they didn’t approve the fact that I wrote ‘Güray Seramik’ on the back of the plate. This is their justification.” Noyan adds, “This is a matter of a procedure and of work ethics. The artist creates his art, signs his work and adds the firm’s name on the back of it. We’ve always worked like this. It is incomprehensible to break the work just because the firm’s name is written on its back. They could have just given it back to me and told me to erase the firm’s name. Why did they have to break it?”
‘This is not a well-known form of art’
Noyan Yayla talks about his art and how he started to be interested in it in these words: “My father Uğur Yayla is a well-known painter, and my mother Ümran Yayla is also a painter working with water-color. I was born in Giresun to an artist family. We moved to Avanos 20 years ago. I studied traditional Turkish handicrafts at Marmara Fine Arts Academy in Istanbul and worked on ceramics. I am both pedantic and autodidact. Then I combined the ceramics with painting. It was of course complicated to do so. It was difficult to find most convenient paint and technique. Even now, there aren’t many who can apply this technique properly. It’s a whole new art.” Even though Noyan doesn’t call himself a real “painter”, he defines himself as “a good chapuller.” For the process started with the Gezi protests, he says, “I have always been involved with it, with my body and with my art. The Gezi protests compare to a process of cleaning. For me, the message of the Gezi is that if you have some dirt in your backyard, you should clean it.”
Güray Seramik: ‘We are a firm, and we cannot allow such things in our enterprise’
Güray Tüzsüz, chairman of board of directors, has given explanations on behalf of the Güray Seramik House and said that the dismissal of Noyan Yayla has nothing to do with the Gezi incidents neither is it related to politics: “We parted our ways with Noyan Yayla before twice. Then we recruited him again. We had already decided to dimiss him two months ago due to some discords we were having with him. And his work referring to the Prime Minister was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. In our firm, we often receive statesmen, politicians and local civilian as well as administrative authorities. So, we cannot allow such things in our enterprise.”
‘If I don’t like a work of art, I can break it’
“Besides, Noyan was our covered employee, and his work represents our enterprise with the name of the enterprise printed on them. When I don’t like some work, I can break it. This is not like attacking the artist’s work at his home or any personal work.”
‘If you make this a news story, we’ll sue you’
“We have already started law process on this matter. And if you make a news story about this, we will sue you as well.”
29 July 2013
This post is also available in: Turkish