Seen from afar, the works of Turkish artist Çağatay Odabaş look like large-scale printed movie posters, but as viewers approach them to take a closer look, they discover that they are actually made up of hundreds of thousands of tiny hand-drawn circles.
37-year-old Odabaş says that his art is largely influenced by his two most favorite activities growing up in the 80s and 90s – playing with LEGO bricks and watching movies. He starts out by picking out the movie stills he wants to recreate from his collection of thousands of films, which he considers his research library. He then proceeds to split this image into several pieces, mapping out each one with tiny circles, which are all assigned a certain code, to serve during the coloring process. Then, like a complicated but fascinating LEGO model, he puts all the pieces together to create these ultra-realistic masterpieces of pointilism.
“I think this is similar to the LEGO’s I used to play with like crazy as a child. My paintings look like those,” Çağatay Odabaş told Based Istanbul. “When you get a box of Lego, there is a picture of the toy that will come out of it. Putting those pieces together knowing what it will look like in the end is delighting. That is exactly how my pictures are.”
But creating this LEGO-like puzzle and putting it together is no child’s play. Odabaş says that his paintings consist of between 150,000 and 200,000 tiny circles, all of which have to be drawn and colored by hand according to a code system. The whole process is very complex and time-consuming, so he has a whole team of assistants helping him out. But even so, each of his works takes 2 to 3 months to complete. He sometimes works 18 hours a day, and doesn’t leave his art studio for several days at a time.
“We literally work like a film production company,: the artist says. “The way they create a movie at a production firm; the scenario, the casting, the preparation of the sets, the costumes, the lights, the logistics, et. etc. Just like that, everyone in the crew at my atelier have their own responsibilities and duties.”
“On average, I can finish a piece within 2,5 – 3 months working like this. The coloring part has a certain system. I can make mistakes and changes during the early phases, however I complete the outline of the piece when I place each color on those small boxes via coding.”
Asked how he feels about digitalisation in art, Çağatay Odabaş said that he is a fan of digital technology when it is used to support the artist’s handiwork, but not when it outshines his contribution to the art piece.
“One of the things that draw admiration in my paintings is how I present the visual I want to express using a surprise effect,” Odabaş says. “200 thousand spots are painted one by one by hand. When looked from afar, it’s like a digital technology, however when you look at it up and close they are all different from one another, like DNA.”
Çağatay Odabaş’s works have been shared thousands of time on various social media platforms, and the artist says it brings him great joy to see people asking questions like “How did this man do this?”
Odabaş will unveil his latest collection of hyper-realistic pointilism artworks on May 4th, 2017, during a Bozlu Art Project exhibition, in Istanbul.
For more of this eye-candy check out Çağatay Odabaş’s Instagram page.