Turkey is a beautiful country, but İstanbul as a city has its own beauty. I had already made plans to visit İstanbul this summer, but then some changes happened and I thought that I wouldn’t have any time to. Then, my sweet family surprised me with a three-day trip, which ended up being wonderful.
On the first day, my mom, my aunt, my sister and I had a girls day to ourselves. We started with a wonderful breakfast at Emek Cafe in Yeniköy, went to the Sakıp Sabancı Museum, where they had the “Feyhaman Duran: Between Two Worlds” and “Selim Turan: Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis” exhibitions. Following is a poem by İbnülemin Mahmud Kemal İnal, dedicated to the artist Feyhaman Duran:
“European painters would bow to his brush
His brush is a wonder that charms the eyes
His power is undoubted, as he himself is aware
Devotee of his profession, master of his art
Loyal to his brush, every work a masterpiece
His beautiful calligraphy is as inestimable as his painting
His letters are all flawless, his diacriticals just like Dürer
He behaves like his letters and looks like his pictures
He commands respect, is loved by all
May Feyhaman enjoy a long life that never sees Fall
A person whose skill is always admired.”
-İbnülemin Mahmud Kemal İnal
Later, I had some alone time with my aunt. She is like my second mom, we talk about everything, so when we are apart for so long, everything piles up. We had coffee and it was lovely. Afterward, we went to the Edebiyatçılar Kıraathanesi in Sultanahmet, which you MUST visit for dessert if you are ever in İstanbul. Finally, we met up with my dad in Taksim for dinner.
Entrance of the Sakıp Sabancı Museum.
Me being over excited about everything I saw on the way & at the museum.
Feyhaman Duran and his wife Güzin Duran’s Studio.
Close up from the couple’s studio.
Some of Feyhaman Duran’s Pochades. “This series of small and quickly painted pochades represent different areas in İstanbul, which Feyhaman Duran started painting after he had returned from Paris. Amongst the artist’s favourite locations in İstanbul, where he spent most of his time, were the Büyükada, Baltalimanı, Çengelköy, Beyazıt, Anadoluhisarı and Rumelihisarı. Duran often depicted the same subject matter at different times of the day, under changing weather and light conditions in order to catch a specific and momentary effect of light on a motif. The practice recalls serial works of Monet, which this artist began to paint in the 1880s with a similar aim: to express through colours a specific light and its atmospheric effects. Whether the two artists ever met is not clear, but Feyhaman had many opportunities to see Monet’s paintings at exhibitions and at the Louvre and Loxembourg Museums.
I spent the next day with Alisha (my other half, one of my best friends) and it was priceless. Whenever Alisha and I get together, we end up having a great time, which is why I miss living with her so much (we went to UWC together so we lived right next to one another for a year). We, of course, started our day with breakfast (in Turkey breakfast is a big thing). I then took her to the Borusan Contemporary, where we took our signature photos with the art and the lovely Bosphorus. J The current exhibitions were “Remains of the Days”, “ Ola Kolehmainen Sinan Project”, and “Overture: New Acquisitions from the Borusan Contemporary Art Collection”. Next, we had some time to kill before dinner so we went to Erciyes Cafe in Taksim. It is such a uniquely designed cafe and it reminds me of the Goldfish Cafe in Sarajevo, which Alisha and I love, so I took her there. After having some lovely talks with the women who work there and some tea, Alisha took me to Kadıköy. We had dinner, then we went to a bar to have a beer. Finally, we went to this place called Arkaoda for cocktails, which was soooooooo fun.
The ceiling of our future office.
Our future office.
Borusan Contemporary view.
Us at Borusan Contemporary.
Us in Taksim.
Alisha bored at Arkaoda while I’m at the restroom.
Although our schools are both in Illinois, we just didn’t have the time to see each other very much last year so having this reunion was so nice. We had so much to catch up on but seeing her felt like we had only been apart for a day. Now that I am going to Denmark, we will be apart once again for a while but distance only makes things more exciting, haha. 😉
The third day began with a family breakfast, which was delicious as always. Then, I decided to spend the day with my one true love; İstanbul Modern. I had seen the current exhibit, “Artists in Their Time” before, but I was with my family then, so, this time I read and observed everything I wanted in detail. After spending many hours at the museum, I had dinner with my friend Batu from Lake Forest, then met up with the family for a drink.
İstanbul Modern – ‘Under the Great Crack (and Sleep, Growth and All The Words)’ by Margherita Manzelli / “Born in 1968 in Italy, Margherita Manzeti created “Under the Great Crack (and Sleep, Growth and All The Words)” in 2008. At the centre of Manzelli’s works is the relationship between memory and reality. She synthesises portraits that reside in her memory with everyday life. When the balance between what’s real and what she sees in her min’s eye is lost, entirely new images appear in her consciousness. Who the imaginary figures we see in her paintings are, and what they do, remains uncertain. Manzelli uses both symbolic and ordinary articles like a heart-patterned underwear or a sequin top to define the bodies of the women she typically depicts. The women’s easily bruised, fine, veined skin and delicate bone structure that could break with the slightest shock make them vulnerable. Their facial and bodily expressions give the impression of a sensitive wound in the process of recovery and are reminiscent of melancholy and illness. However, Manzelli does not see the women’s fragility as helplessness; on the contrary, she subtly creates a sentimental atmosphere in the background. Her real aim in these works is to record her distinctive concept of beauty.”
İstanbul Modern – Sarkis / “İstanbul-born artist Sarkis studied interior architecture at Mimar Sinan University. In 1964 he moved to Paris and took up residence there. The French ministry of culture and information awarded him the Grand Prix National de Sculpture (National Grand Prize for Sculpture) in 1991. The artist’s works are on display at nearly 200 contemporary art museums in America, Europe, and Asia. Known for his installations, photography, watercolours, and videos, Sarkis is a versatile artist who centers his art on such concepts as “memory” and “remembrance”. The words in the neon work featured in his solo exhibition “Site”, which opened at İstanbul Modern in September 2009, indicate the different stages of his career. Sarkis comments on this work: “The stages of my career in art were written in neon like the names of night club singers. An African sculpture with a monkey’s skull dances in front of them.”
İstanbul Modern – ‘Your solar nebula’ by Olafur Eliasson / CLOSE UP
İstanbul Modern – ‘Your solar nebula’ by Olafur Eliasson / “Born in Denmark in1967, Olafur Eliasson produces works that influence and transform their sites and surroundings by interacting and connecting with them. He transforms exhibition spaces into play areas where the conflict between nature and culture is erased. He adds new stories to city histories by creating waterfalls in city centres or painting rivers green. Through his interactive play of light, shadow and scale, he “concretizes” exhibition spaces and enables us to really feel them. Eliasson effectively transforms the static exhibition space into a living, changing stage on which the spectator also performs.”
İstanbul Modern – ‘İstanbul’ by Burhan Doğançay /
İstanbul Modern – ‘Ministry’ by Murat Akagündüz & ‘Ankara Fortress’ by Murat Akagündüz / “Murat Akagündüz was a student at the fine arts faculty of Mimar Sinan University from 1988 to 1995. A founding member of the “Hafriyat” (Excavation) group, Akagündüz shows modern life and the conditions it imposes on lifestyles: holiday resorts’ colourful entertainment culture, shanty houses swallowed up by million-dollar, grandiose urban architecture, large malls with swarming crowds, and huge highways that isolate social classes. Akagündüz’s original approach encompasses his use of paint, choice of place and compositional structure. Each of his works also has a different narrative style. Interested in the politics of everyday life, Akagündüz reveals the political and symbolic elements that permeate urban living. In his previous works, he questioned the image culture (served by photography) by adding garish overtones to the dazzling adverts of travel agencies. More recently, he has explored the relationships between public spaces and city buildings by creating works from newspaper clippings of street clashes. In this series, Akagündüz uses symbols that denote the capital of Turkey, Ankara, and its cultural and political identity, thereby creating an imaginary world within a tangible reality.”
İstanbul Modern – ‘Your solar nebula’ by Olafur Eliasson / ” The artist’s work “Your solar nebula” is composed of 321 glass spheres reminiscent of natural phenomena, such as water droplets or teardrops. There are three colors at the back of each sphere: a silver mirror-like surface at the centre merging with black paint to the right and yellow paint to the left. The spheres are of different sizes and, when seen as a whole, seem to be frozen in a way that is reminiscent of stars coming together to form a spiral galaxy. This form has no geometric outline or arrangement and invokes a moment without predetermined coordinates, like the flow of a steam of water or a shooting star. The circular colors in the spheres become evident only when viewed from up close. Though the spheres are of various sizes, when viewed head-on they give the illusion that they are fully reflective. Looking from different angles, one realises that their color and degree of transparency are actually much more complex than they appear. They spots of color inside the spheres also make them look like eyeballs. These spheres call attention to naturally-occurind formations, such as how the Milky Way functions or a cloud forms and breaks up. The image on the surface of this work varies depending on the angle from which it is viewed. The work therefore offers an experience which the viewers will create for themselves. This experience will occur differently for every visitor, depending on their physical position in the exhibition space and viewing time.”
İstanbul Modern – ‘The Fisher Boy and Cats’ by Orhan Peker
İstanbul Modern – ‘Red emotional globe’ by Olafur Eliasson / “Although viewers collectively experience Eliasson’s work, they may experience and interpret it differently. His sculpture, which depicts the Earth, reshapes the relationship between body and space through light refraction and shadow play, generating an area for personal experience.”
İstanbul Modern – ‘The Door’ by Burhan Uygur / “In Burhan Uygur’s paintings, one can find traces of the bohemian lifestyle he maintained throughout his life and the lyrical approach he developed. To his friends, Uygur was a person of exceptional vitality. In his works he depicted proper from his immediate circle, always with subtle sensitivity, and over time the stains he painted using light brush strokes turned into symbolic elements. As the figures in Uygur’s paintings moved through the artist’s inner universe and changed form, they came to life not just on canvas but on diverse objects as well. The titles of his paintings and exhibitions have always evoked poetic flavours. Through his paintings he saluted the verses of the poets he loved. He lived life to the fullest, painted what he experienced and sought to experience what he painted. On all the bends and folds of the surfaces he worked on, whether on this century-old door, on canvas or other materials, Uygur took account of his physical and his spiritual life, from the very beginning. Carrying both the lightest and heaviest burdens of the past, he journeyed to the very depths of his heart to create his own tale by depicting everything that entered his life.”
İstanbul Modern – ‘Untitled’ by Murat Pulat / “This state of continuity that increases as one approaches the pixelated painting is present. “Untitled” is a reproduction of the Mia Farrow scene engraved in our memories from Roman Polanski’s 1968 film “Rosemary’s Baby”. Even though the artist detaches this frame from the many scenes of the film in which it is imprisoned, by projecting it on the canvas with a sense of movement, he reminds us of its continuity and emphasises the fact that everything is part of a whole.”
İstanbul Modern – ‘1553’ by Taner Ceylan / Taner Ceylan studied painting at Mimar Sinan University. He is widely regarded as one of the most successful practitioners of the photorealistic style among the current generation of young Turkish artists. Ceylan regards realism not just as an issue of technical success, but also as an expression and even accentuation of the reality of meaning. He said “What I expect of a painting is that it should give me as much reality as possible; it should give me the reality of beauty, my own reality. It should be real not just visibly but meaningfully too. I want powerful images.” Ceylan invests his canvases with the features and milieu of gay life and culture. The title of Ceylan’s painting “1553”, inspired by Süleyman the Magnificent’s wife Hürrem Sultan, is a reference to the year when Süleyman had his son Prince Mustafa killed. The blood spread on the painting’s surface reminds us of the tension between power, force, and violence. According to Ceylan, eternal life and everlasting beauty always require sacrifice. The veil that conceals the face of the subject in the painting also symbolizes the way power nourishes itself on a covert violence. The artist works with people in his close circle such as Alp, the model for this painting, whom he has often used as a model in his previous works.”
We, unfortunately, left the next day… I move to different places all the time and they are all beautiful in their own way, but none of them make me feel the way İstanbul does. You are probably thinking “Well that is normal since it is in your own country.”, which is true, but there is something else that I don’t exactly know how to put in words… Every café, every restaurant, every museum, every pub, every neighborhood, every street, every corner I go to do makes me feel a thousand different things at the same time. When I walk around in a certain area, I discover new places, new people, new cats, new stories, new streets, new feelings, new everything. I don’t like sleeping when I’m in İstanbul because I feel like I would miss so much; the city feels as if it is alive every single second of the twenty-four hours of every day. Although I never got to live there, every time I leave İstanbul I get nostalgic about memories I never lived, people I never met, places I never went. It feels as if there is something that wants me to stay there, which keeps on pulling me. Maybe İstanbul’s energy simply matches mine… After spending this summer in Turkey and the three days in İstanbul, I have made the decision to come back after I have fulfilled all of my goals abroad (well maybe Turkey AND Denmark). Having the opportunity to receive such high-quality education made me aware of the ways I could contribute to my country using the things I’ve learned abroad. So many people are running away from Turkey, and they aren’t necessarily wrong, but finding excuses and running away is always the simpler thing to do.