From paper to paper


Türker e Deniz Yılmaz Akman are an artist duo based in Istanbul. Since 2011 they have been designing paper sculptures, installations, shop windows and props in their workshop called «Paper Atelier». Protagonists of the 2021 edition of the Lucca Biennale, we met them and interviewed them exclusively for Paper Industry World.

Their artistic field of vision reflects the authenticity of elements of modern art by which they are surrounded. The philosophy underpinning their work is based on craftsmanship, the value of slowness, and the use of natural raw materials such as paper. Their aim is to express organic forms, feelings and situations in simple, defined geometries, feeding on collective creativity.

A crucial concept in their work is what they call the «paper cycle»: sketches are created on a sheet of paper, then digitised and processed on the computer, and printed after preparing templates for handwork and finishing touches: a process that begins and ends on paper. Protagonists of the 2021 edition of the Lucca Biennale, they tell us something about their work as artists.

From Turkey “Paper Atelier”

Türker Akman is a sculptor and architect living in Istanbul. While he was studying architecture, he took courses on art theory, art history, architectural photography and sculpture. After working as an architect on green and sustainable architecture projects for many years, he decided to change his route to the field of art and sculpture which was focused «on paper». Now he is creating paper sculptures, installations and giving lectures on paper crafting with Deniz.

Deniz Yılmaz Akman is a writer/publisher and photographer. She was born and raised in Istanbul. She studied sociology then had a master degree on new media design and creative writing. When Deniz spent several years on media field as a writer and photographer, she realized her passion for printed publications. Besides working with her partner Türker on paper art, in 2013 she founded the printed lifestyle magazine match-up mag.

How long have you been working together and how did you cross expertise?

We have a company called Papier Atelier, which was started in 2011. We create sculptures, installations, prop designs and animations mainly based on paper.

Deniz: I worked as a travel/culture writer and photographer for magazines, and I still continue this activity. Then I started publishing my own magazine quarterly. I’ve been publishing it for several years.

Türker: I worked as an architectural designer as a full time job. After we met, we started to make artworks such as collages, watercolors and small paper sculptures.

How is your work organised?

We decide the idea and the theme of the sculpture together. Then Türker prepares sketches and 3D drawings. After completing the process we cut and fold the paper and build the sculpture.

Why paper?

Paper is a versatile and playful material. While it can be a soft and sensitive material, it can also be used as a hard and durable one depending on the way it is used. Also, a healthy and recyclable medium that you can use in any environment.

What do you want to express with your work?

Our artistic field of view is to reflect the authenticity we are surrounded by with elements of modern art. The philosophy behind our works is based on hand crafting and slow living as we prefer to work with the most naive material; i.e. paper. All our aim is to express organic forms, feelings and situations in simple defined geometries.

What techniques do you use?

We usually create a 3-dimensional shell in our sculptures. To support this shell, we also design and build an infrastructural system made of paper.

What or who inspires you?

In general, every experience we have gives us something: our travels, the people we meet, films, books. If, with your question, you wish to learn who the masters are,we draw inspiration from, we are inspired by the Turkish cartoonist Turhan Selçuk, and the French sculptor Xavier Veilhan.

The «paper cycle»: from paper to paper. What do you mean?

The paper cycle is one of the most crucial things that we care about. The first sketches are created on a sheet of paper, then digitized and processed with a computer, and printed out after preparing templates for handcrafting and for the last finishing touches. So, the process starts and ends on paper.

What is the job you are most attached to and why?

It is our «In Between» installation, which we created for Lucca Biennale 2021. We hung a monumental sculpture between buildings, with pedestrians walk under it. As it was an outdoor installation, the sculpture had to resist bad weather conditions, such as rain and wind which was so challenging. We are so proud that we were able to overcome the challenges that we were faced with.

What are your future projects?

There is an upcoming exhibition in Istanbul, and we are really excited about it at the moment.

Also, we keep improving on digital animation to enlarge our professional services and allow us to work worldwide. You can see them in our IG (@papieratelier).