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x0x Ships of Paradise

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  • TRH
    [See http://www.hasletsoyoz.com/ , click on the resimler link. ] x0x Ships of Paradise By Baris Dogru What better image than the sea to convey the idea of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 19, 2005
      [See http://www.hasletsoyoz.com/ , click on the
      "resimler" link. ]

      x0x Ships of Paradise

      By Baris Dogru

      What better image than the sea to convey the idea of
      infinity and an actual voyage? And if you then put a
      ship in that dark blue sea, gliding along with all the
      grace of a swan amidst the foam-spewing waves... As
      children of a people that took to the sea rather late
      despite inhabiting a geography surrounded by water on
      three sides, we should not be surprised that images of
      the sea and portraits of ships are rather new to
      Turkish painting. The depiction of ships found in
      Byzantine mosaics, Greek terra cottas and Egyptian
      papyri only developed in the true sense of the word
      with the extraordinary advances in the art of oil
      painting that took place in Europe from the 16th
      century onwards. In the absence of photography, oil
      paintings, which aimed to be almost exact copies of
      reality, had an important documentary value as faithful
      representations of their subjects.

      Indeed portraits of ships became a discipline unto
      itself in painting of the 18th and 19th centuries.

      Since we Turks had no tradition of painting in the
      Ottoman period apart from the very limited and stylized
      art of the miniature, depictions of the period's
      splendid galleys and imperial caïques have not come
      down to us in detail. We know these vessels only from
      Melling's engravings and the paintings of Ayvazovsky
      and Preziosi. While we have long lamented the absence
      in the history of Turkish painting of any painters of
      the sea or ships other than Diyarbakirli Tahsin, a
      fleet looming suddenly on the horizon now looks like
      putting an end, to some extent anyway, to these regrets
      of ours.

      Haslet Soyoz, whom we have always known as a
      cartoonist, is coming at us full steam ahead with his
      `Ships of Paradise'.


      Like many others, I became acquainted with Haslet Soyoz
      through his comic strips in the daily papers. The `big'
      questions asked by that memorable 'Little Guy' of his
      still ring somewhere in my childish head. For some
      reason however I was not at all surprised when the
      creator of Kucumen, who has never lost those wild
      childish eyes of his, came out thirty years later with
      a whopping series of ship paintings, perhaps because I
      could detect in those giant canvases the signs of a
      sensitive soul that still views the world through a
      child's eyes.

      What, I wonder, lay behind the extraordinary labor and
      patience lavished on those ship paintings by Haslet,
      who shut himself up in his studio in Tarlabasi for over
      two years? Could it be an attempt to turn the old
      cliché `the history of these lands' on its head and
      write a visual history of our ships and the sea that
      surrounds us on three sides? It's not easy to explain
      why an artist who spent thirty years pouring his
      grievances into the minimalism of cartoon art in black
      India ink on A4 sheets has now returned to the canvas
      and the rainbow oil palette.

      Haslet says the inspiration came with a painting of the

      Starting with a painting of this beautiful yacht on
      which Ataturk spent his last days was an auspicious
      introduction to the enterprise of painting pictures of
      each of the ships that left an important mark on the
      history of the late Ottoman and the Republican
      periods... a long voyage through history on the crest
      of the waves and in the wake of the ships.


      They are all there in Haslet's paintings. The
      battleship Yavuz, which sailed through the Istanbul
      straits in 1914 to pound the Russian ports of
      Sevastopol, Odessa, Kiev and Novorossisk with cannon
      fire thereby triggering the First World War, is
      proceeding full steam ahead, puffing smoke from its
      double smokestack. Right next to it is another legend,
      the Gulcemal, an English-built vessel launched on 15
      July 1874 with a German name, which was bought by the
      Ottoman government in 1911 and renamed for the mother
      of the reigning Sultan Resad. This ship, which glides
      along on Haslet's canvas like a coy bride with a
      profile befitting its name, Rose-faced, is sacred in
      the eyes of the Anatolian people, who were convinced of
      its powers to heal the sick who surrounded it in boats
      in the ports where it anchored.

      And what about the frigate Ertugrul, forging ahead in
      unfamiliar waters even though the sea is high and the
      sky, roiling with blue-grey clouds, is ready to burst?
      It only narrowly escaped several disasters Abdulhamid
      to the Japanese Emperor.

      Now it is on its return voyage. When stormy Japanese
      waters off the coast of Kobe swallowed up the Ertugrul
      on 18 September 1890, only 69 of its 681 crew members
      were saved. Now on Haslet's canvas it pursues its
      return course, like a yearning song in the darkness.


      In another corner stands the Sahilbent, whose story is
      little known.

      The world's first car ferry, produced in England in
      1871 according to plans drawn up jointly by Huseyin
      Haki Efendi, director of the Sirket-i Hayriye, the
      period's leading shipping company, General Inspector
      Iskender Bey, and the head architect of the Haskoy
      dockyard Mehmet Usta, the Sahilbent, with its twin the
      Suhulet, operated for close to a hundred years between
      the two shores of the Bosphorus.

      These are just a few of the many ships depicted on
      Haslet's canvases.

      The Bandirma, for example, carried along by winds of
      hope, stoutly resists the Black Sea's fierce waves to
      carry Ataturk to Samsun, where he launched Turkey's War
      of Independence in 1919.

      All these and many more are immortalised on Haslet's
      canvases. Haslet Soyoz has breathed new life into these
      ships, which put their stamp on the last century of
      Turkish history before sinking quietly to the bottom of
      the sea when their time came or breathing their last as
      they were dismantled at a shipyard. His `ships of
      paradise' turn over a new page for us in Turkey's
      maritime history.

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