When I first met Nilgun in her witchy café Atölye Cadı Kazanı Cafe / Arabahmet in North Nicosia, she took me on an enriching journey through decades of Cypriot history and culture. The daughter of the Turkish Cypriot painter İsmet Güney and an acclaimed, Cypriot artist herself, Nilgun emits something incredibly harmonious and sensible. After enduring the war in 1974, she dedicated a big part of her life to the reunification of Greek and Turkish Cypriots on the island. However, instead of going into politics to resolve conflict, Nilgun and her fellow artists were resisting the political segregation through art. Resolved to take action, the woman founded the EMAA (European Mediterranean Art Association), which gave many opportunities to Northern and Southern artists to cross the border and reunite in peace while sharing their passion for art and culture. It has been a long fight for Nilgun and she experienced a lot of dark aspects of life, however she shines in every possible way. Today, she works and teaches painting in her studio which is situated on the first floor of her café.
Most of her paintings are abstract, split female faces and bodies, immersed in lavender, sky blue and candy floss colours. A dream-like Nicosia lives on Nilgun’s canvases. “I use my personal memories of Cyprus and I try to tell a story about what once was and is now destroyed by the political forces. Even my own, divided self is present on each one of the portraits with split faces.” Some of her artwork is a mixture of painting, photography and collage, balancing the dark and bright sides of human existence.