The still paintings pulse with the hectic lifeforce of an animated GIF, seeming to burst from the walls of Viacom’s Times Square headquarters in a mesmerizing array of color and geometry.
The creation of Turkish-born, New York City based Ogulcan Kush (who goes by “OG”), the medley of precision-measured shapes and symbolism is a deliberate synthesis of Eastern, Islamic art and Western modern art. This fusion of artforms is both a tribute to OG’s principal influences and a therapeutic articulation of his frustration that his U.S. work visa will soon expire, forcing him to leave New York.
“I decided to be okay with leaving the U.S., and use whatever time I had left to react to the situation with my art,” OG told Art at Viacom, which is hosting the artist’s first solo U.S. exhibition, American Daydream.
The exhibit is a nice compendium of OG’s work and style – it incorporates legacy pieces and several works created specifically for this exhibit, including a large piece that he painted live outside of Viacom’s cafeteria over several days.
I spoke to OG just after Art at Viacom unveiled his exhibition last month. The conversation below has been edited for clarity and length.
Stuart Winchester: How did you connect with Viacom?
Ogulcan Kush: Last year, I was working on Tahiti Pearson’s Art at Viacom installation, and I met the team at the press party afterward. We met for drinks one night and I showed them my work, and they told me to come in for an interview. And I went in with my pitch ready and they were like, “So we would love to have you.”
SW: Take me through the process of working for Viacom from concept to actual installation.
OG: The people at Art at Viacom were super nice, super friendly. They couldn’t have been more helpful. After we booked the show, I finished two pieces specifically for the space. Then they wanted to incorporate a live painting into the show. They were really supportive of the art, not just established artists, but emerging artists doing a lot of work and trying to come up, so I really respect that.