Leyla Pekmen is a contemporary artist living and working out of Istanbul. Born and raised in Turkey, Pekmen found her passion for painting at a young age, spending a majority of her time immersed within her neighbour’s art studio. She grew up fascinated by the different forms and shapes that take up art making, and explores the unique view offered by painting in her current practice. Pekmen is part of a local art studio where she developed her passion and interests in acrylic painting and whimsical ceramic sculptures. Her paintings are bold and bright, often utilizing colour blocking and pointillism to create framing and texture. Her sculptures are vastly surreal and conceptual, embracing the mutable qualities offered by ceramics to create fluid and eccentric pieces. Most of Pekmen’s art center around the concept of combing the simple pleasure’s of life with that of whimsy and storytelling. Themes around nature, landscapes, and travel are dropped into a fantastical narrative, often exploring the ideas of memory and comfort. Pekmen had her first solo show in Istanbul in 2021, and also participated in an international group show with other internationally recognized female artists, with her paintings being bought by international art collectors from around the globe.
She finds inspiration in Ottoman miniatures, often utilizing such styles in her paintings to create an enriching narrative. Her paintings and sculptures both revolve around creating this narrative scene, reflecting her identity as a storyteller. Whether that be through her snapshots of figures lolling on rolling ocean waves or her surrealist sculptures of indiscernible limbs intertwined together, each piece of art invites the viewer in as part of the story. There is detail in every corner and nook, and you can always find something new every time you come back to it. Pekmen also concentrates a lot on the space of the urban landscape, often imbedding in supernatural elements like in “Wonderland” which blends fantasy motifs in with childhood innocence to create a magical and protective forest. Her landscapes therefore take on a humanist quality as we look at it in terms of how our memories and influence impacts how we view the physical environments we take up.
Her fascination with using fantasy and whimsy in visual storytelling can be seen clearly in her ceramic sculptures. Through her dreamlike totem poles and fantastical sculptures of scenes that trigger the imagination, she creates a story out of a single object. Each piece takes on a new meaning with each viewing, as each viewer project their own connotations and interpretations onto the artworks. Meanwhile, her paintings are also reminiscent of postcards, both in their scenic style and in the capturing of a memory. They act as physical memorabilia for a state of mind, for something that we want to keep with us. Her work thus creates not only a scene, but invites viewers into a space that is almost intimate in nature. Her collection of work invites us to revisit our inner child, to let go and enter into a realm of fun. Through her eccentric collection of paintings and sculptures, Pekmen has created a mise-en-scene of joy and adventure.