Interview with Mustafa Hulusi

Interview with Mustafa Hulusi

Above Image: From BLACK (MORPH) by Mustafa Hulusi

We're delighted to present a new artwork BLACK (MORPH) from Mustafa Hulusi, who is also best known with his works that fuse hyper-abstract elements with realist imagery. The release of his new work marks the first release by Mustafa Hulusi on Sedition since 2016. In Hulusi's BLACK (MORPH), crude analogue 16mm film meets up-to-date technological know-how with a 25 year interlude. The original shot of BLACK (MORPH) was shot in 1996 during Hulusi's first year at Goldsmiths College, London.

Mustafa Hulusi is currently working on his one-night only pop-up show of new paintings and video works at a space called Filet. The show Acid Horizons opens in March 2023. Coinciding with the new release, Hulusi curated a special playlist Acid Horizon exclusively for the Sedition audience. The artist-curated playlist highlights more hand-made works that involve an actual person saying something that is communicative, including the works Sense by Jenny Holzer, Twisted Crystals by Doug Foster and Flight Patterns by Aaron Koblin and many more. Coinciding with the release of the artwork and the curated playlist, Sedition talked with the artist about his practice, his latest inspirations and his thoughts on the future of art in the digital landscape.

You recently curated a playlist titled Acid Horizon for Sedition. Could you please tell us about your selection? Does it revolve around a specific theme/concept?

Mustafa Hulusi: After looking through the vast library of video art works on the sedition website, I realised that much of the works included are in the form of digital animation and though this is a field that is constantly evolving (and a potentially dynamic radical space), much of it seems to lack any social purpose other than as purely abstract visual stimulation. I am attracted to more hand-made works that involve an actual person saying something that is communicative.

I recall one of the first lessons I learnt whilst entering the art education system, that was working out the difference between art and design.  

Design = Form follows function.  

Art = Function follows form.  

This is a very simple phrase but very deep in terms of how a metaphysical experience is encountered and what this may entail. Fine art is ultimately a belief system, it’s a construct not an act of nature.  

Extasis by Mustafa Hulusi

Highly realistic images of flowers often accompanied with abstract imagery are common in some of your works, such as Extasis on Sedition. Could you tell us some of the recurring themes/concepts in your work and the root of your interest in those concepts?  

Mustafa Hulusi: The idea of the diptych has its origins in religious early Christian painting however my primary interest in this format is as a device to generate a visually bilingual hybridity. My family origin is from the island of Cyprus, which is currently geographically divided state on ethnic and religious lines – north & south; Greek and Turk; Christian and Muslim. By using the method of juxtaposition, I attempt to create a dialectic in which these contradictions are overcome. By creating new meaning, the aim here is to use art as model of society. 

Extinction by Mustafa Hulusi

In some of your works you use the flora and fauna of Cyprus, such as Extinction - a three-way split screen piece featuring the endemic tulip flower Tulipa Cypria, found in remote and unpopulated areas of Cyprus. In what ways does your cultural background inform your art? 

Mustafa Hulusi: The island of Cyprus has been the source of my ideas on art for the last 20 years. The region where my family are from has such a photogenic sensibility. The natural landscape is so memorising yet concurrently the system of governance doesn’t functions and is riddled with paradoxes.  

Verigo 1 by Mustafa Hulusi

Since the '90s you’ve established your reputation with ‘guerilla’ poster campaigns, in which you plastered London neighbourhoods with leaflets, posters and original large-scale works. How did you first start on this approach? What has been your general approach to making the distribution of art/image more democratized?  

Mustafa Hulusi: Prior to the current saturation of information technology (in the shape of online connected smart phones), the printed medium acted as the battering ram which imposed the simulated image-world that seduces us to all to be happy consumers.  

I recall in one instance around 25 years ago exiting a warehouse rave party in London (around 6am one summers morning) and as I walked out there was like a tunnel of people forcibly shoving flyers/ invites/ club promotion material into your hand. I was still intoxicated, but this struck me as a metaphorical truth and inspired my approach to art making. 

Your works have been presented in numerous exhibitions and museum collections.  What have been some of the biggest highlights and what are you most proud of?  

Mustafa Hulusi: I believe participating in the Venice Biennale in 2007 has made the biggest impact on my career as it had probably the largest and most refined audience. 

Are there any works or artists which you see as reference points in your practice, aesthetically or conceptually?  

Mustafa Hulusi: I am less overtly influenced by any one artist and more susceptible to movements and ideas of not only fine art but cinema as well. I recently watched the trilogy of films by Chilean documentory maker Patricio Guzman and was blown away by them. He crystalises much of the discourse I am trying to tackle yet does so in such a profound and poetic way its hugely life affirming. He talks about the intersection between ethics and aesthetics within the humanist tradition and how art plays a role in society and vice versa. 

How do you envisage the future of art in the digital landscape? What makes you excited about it?  

Mustafa Hulusi: In the same way early acid house music was generated through the misuse of music technology, hopefully within the field of digital/ software-based devises, new pathways can be found that expand human consciousness through acts of play. 

What inspired you conceptually in digital art, in the recent years?  

Mustafa Hulusi: The medium of art is not important. Anything can be art. What makes something art is the context within which it is presented and the discourse surrounding it. If you are asking me what do I like looking at on my iPhone then I recently discovered a Canadian photographer called Yonkers Vidal. They look like cosmic galaxies movie special effects but in fact microscopic slow-motion close ups of oil and water liquids intermixing. 

What are you working on lately?  

Mustafa Hulusi: A one-night only pop-up show of new paintings and video works at a space called Filet run by my artists friend Rut Blees Luxemburg. the show is titled Acid Horizons and opens in March 2023. Hopefully see you all there. 


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Mustafa Hulusi
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