Located in southwest Turkey, facing the Aegean see, Bodrum is one of the most important holiday resorts in the country. In town it has a mainstream sculpture park, opened in 2012 and out of town there is an outsider art environment, the first in Turkey of which I heard so far.
Life and works
Born in 1976, Cuma Altuntaş grew up in a Kurdish family in the small community of Kocaoglu Gemerek in the district of Sivas in Turkey. At a rather young age he already was attracted to making art and at the age of seven he made his first sculpture.
Making a sculpture already was seen in the community as rather awkward, but then, depicting people in an artwork wasn't allowed at all in the religious beliefs of his parents and the other villagers.
Looking back at his youth, Altuntaş said it wasn't a very happy one, since he felt guilty beacuse of his drive to make sculptures, was rather depressive and had night mares.
Growing older the conflicts with his family and the community continued. A love affair went wrong.
So at some point he left his place of birth, going westward, earning money by taking care of private gardens and comparable little jobs.
Around 2007 Altuntaş settled in the outskirts of Bodrum, where he could rent a piece of land of some two hectares, with a cabin where he could stay.
A young man around age thirty, a self-taught artist with an urge to make sculptures, on this piece of land he began realising his dream.
In an outburst of creativity a multitude of sculptures arose on the site, mostly lifesize, often totemlike, made from treetrunks, wood or concrete, which often depict strange dragon-like creatures, human faces or women.
Altuntaş also makes smaller creations, working in wood or pumice. These creations often depict all kind of animals.
Currently over some 2000 sculptures are on display on the site.
Working with parts of trees Altuntaş sees certain characteristics in the material, which he manipulates and accentuates, in this way expressing it's essence.
A recurrent theme in Altuntaş' work is a particular lady, of whom he says that she regularly appears in his dreams, a character that might be connected to the lost love.
The artist will welcome visitors to the garden and he sells sculptures to interested parties.
* Article (in English, april 2015) with a lot of pictures on the weblog of C.M. Kosemen
* Article (in Turkish, aug 2013) in regional newspaper Hürriyet Yazarlar
* Video by Birdal Gectan (7'16", You Tube, uploaded sep 2012)
along the road from Türkbükü to Gundogan