Meelayya’s love for folklore books spirals into digital artworks that are glitchy, vibrant and melancholic

The Istanbul-based artist’s work makes us wonder how such a vibrant and rich palette can create works that are so melancholic.

18 January 2024


Fantasy, history and modernity all meet in Meelayya’s artworks. They feel like epic tragedies, all thanks to the artist imbuing these fictional worlds with her whimsical characters, inspired by medieval engravings, mysterious cults and mythical creatures “from all the folklore books I loved to leaf through as a child”.

Her work often features what feels like a cast; an ensemble taken from a specific age, partaking in a scene found in your richest mythology, which is why many may be shocked to hear that they’re actually digital. Imitating a range of techniques and treatments such as watercolour, wax crayons, coloured pencils and airbrush, she refines and finishes them through shining, bloom, introducing glitches, and printing, before scanning the artworks again. “I want them to resemble your strangest dreams or torn pages from some forgotten ancient book,” she adds, “step into the enigma, where darkness meets colour, and fantasy intertwines with reality”.


Meelayya: Are they all in this room (Copyright © Meelayya, 2023)


Meelayya: Art Enjoyers (Copyright © Meelayya, 2023)


Meelayya: Beach bodies (Copyright © Meelayya, 2023)


Meelayya: Cult (Copyright © Meelayya, 2023)


Meelayya: Family (Copyright © Meelayya, 2023)


Meelayya: Fools (Copyright © Meelayya, 2023)


Meelayya: Guests (Copyright © Meelayya, 2023)


Meelayya: Wayfarers (Copyright © Meelayya, 2023)


Meelayya: Sacrament (Copyright © Meelayya, 2023)

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Meelayya: Dudes (Copyright © Meelayya, 2023)

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About the Author

Yaya Azariah Clarke

Yaya (they/them) joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in June 2023 and became a staff writer in November of the same year. With a particular interest in Black visual culture, they have previously written for publications such as WePresent, alongside work as a researcher and facilitator for Barbican and Dulwich Picture Gallery.

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