Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

x0x A painter who never lied

Expand Messages
  • Turkish Culture List
    [See more on this subject by visiting the pages selected for you by Anita Donohoe: http://turkradio.us/k/muallaf/ ] x0x A painter who never lied By BAHAR
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2009
      [See more on this subject by visiting the pages
      selected for you by Anita Donohoe:

      http://turkradio.us/k/muallaf/ ]

      x0x A painter who never lied


      A leading light of Turkish painting, Fikret Mualla
      is being remembered on the 102nd anniversary of
      his birth in a comprehensive exhibition at
      Istanbul Modern.

      Fikret Muallas greatest wish was to witness a
      world of outstanding beauty. An optimistic world
      outlook... Fikret Mualla found happiness in his
      own way; in a beautiful brush, paint, paper, a
      moment lived, a red tomato, a white cloud, a girls
      chestnut hair, the consciousness of reflecting the
      colorful world without deceit. So wrote
      fellow-artist Abidin Dino about his dear friend.
      Known as a temperamental man with an aggressive,
      intractable and insubordinate personality, a man
      constantly plagued by troubles, Fikret Muallas art
      forms a sharp contrast to his life. Some 243 works
      by Mualla, who painted with a yearning for
      happiness as if he were making love to the world,
      assembled for the first time from 35 different
      collections, have recently gone on display at
      Istanbul Modern. Aiming to reverse the widespread
      view of the artist as an outsider who led a
      turbulent, bohemian life, the exhibition subsumes
      Muallas paintings under a variety of themes.
      Curated by Hasim Nur Gurel, Levent Calikoglu and
      Ali Akay, the exhibition includes not only his
      drawings and paintings in gouache, watercolor and
      oil but also a photobiography consisting of photos
      of the artist taken by Ara Guler. The exhibition,
      which is being sponsored by Eti, also includes an
      audio guide aimed at introducing the artist and
      his art to young people, a documentary film and an
      ABC book for children.


      One of modern Turkish paintings most interesting
      and important artists, Fikret Mualla was born in
      Istanbul in 1903. His father was Mehmet Ekrem Bey,
      second director of the Public Debt Commission,
      which was set up for paying off Ottoman debts to
      Europe; his mother Emine Nevber Hanim. The years
      1910-1915 at Kalamis-Moda, a fashionable quarter
      on the citys Asian Marmara shore, were a period of
      childhood bliss, until a soccer injury at age 12
      left him with a slight limp for the rest of his

      He was sent first to Saint-Joseph and later to the
      famed Galatasaray Lycée, both of which gave
      instruction in French. Recovering at age 15 from
      the Spanish flu, which he caught at school during
      the great epidemic of 1918,he nevertheless passed
      the disease on to his mother, who died of it. Her
      death was the first in a chain of events that
      would affect his entire life. Mualla, who became
      completely uncontrollable after his fathers second
      marriage, was sent first to Switzerland to study.
      From there he went to Germany, where he graduated
      from the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin. The citys
      bohemian lifestyle was his introduction to modern
      art and its leading exponents and, inevitably, to

      Upon his return to Turkey, with the help of
      friends Mualla became a painting teacher at his
      former alma mater, Galatasaray Lycée, but was soon
      dismissed for behavior unbecoming to a teacher.
      After a brief teaching stint in Ayvalik on the
      Aegean coast, he returned again to Istanbul, this
      time making a living by writing for newspapers and
      magazines and making sketches. In 1934 he held his
      first one-man show in Beyoglu, but it aroused
      little interest.

      His weakness for alcohol had finally become an
      addiction from which he would never recover.
      Creating scenes in restaurants and bars, he ended
      up at a police station following one such incident
      and was committed by his fellow-journalists to the
      Mental Hospital at Bakirkoy-Istanbul.

      His roommate there was another famous artist,
      musician Neyzen Tevfik, of whom he would later
      say, if I have a little knowledge of and taste in
      literature, I owe it to him."


      Returning once again to Istanbuls bohemian scene,
      Fikret Mualla painted the city at the request of
      Abidin Dino, who was in charge of the Turkish
      Pavilion at the World Exposition in New York. It
      was, in a sense, Muallas farewell to the city.
      According to some with the money he was paid for
      the paintings, according to others with an
      inheritance left from his fathers death, he left
      for France in 1939. In France, where he would
      spend 29 years of his life and get into trouble
      numerous times for his quick temper and addiction
      to alcohol, and in whose mental hospitals he would
      languish as he had in Istanbul, it was the
      Parisians who provided the inspiration for his
      work. In Paris he studied at the studio of Othon
      Friesz in the Grand Chaumière Academie, where he
      made the acquaintance of many an up-and-coming
      artist, most notably Picasso. Although he rubbed
      shoulders with such greats as Picasso, Matisse,
      Signac, Ziem, Dali, Chagall, Dufy, Van Dongen and
      Pisarro, he never imitated anyone in his painting,
      says his close friend Taha Toros, adding, Through
      the types he created and his works, which were at
      times witty, at times provocative, he was a true
      Parisian painter."

      Another acquaintance from his Paris days was Bedri
      Rahmi Eyuboglu, who describes the artists outlook
      on life as follows: Imagine an artist responsible
      for nothing but painting pictures whenever the
      impulse takes him. An artist who is prepared to go
      hungry and thirsty three days a week; who picks up
      cigarette butts from the street as if gathering
      berries in the countryside. An artist who, the
      moment he manages to sell a few pictures with the
      help of friends and acquaintances, gets drunk on
      the hardest liquor, eats the most expensive food,
      and rages at those around him, flinging the most
      outrageous insults.

      As Dr. Safder Tarim puts it, painting for Mualla
      was synonymous with life, with breathing. He
      painted with great speed, fusing time past and
      present as he translated the people of his own
      world onto paper.

      When he was unable to find paper during the Nazi
      occupation of Paris, he stealthily ripped posters
      off walls and used the blank portions for his
      gouaches, which he gave to waiters in return for
      food and drink.

      Meanwhile gallery owners and collectors, knowing
      full well that he would eventually earn fame,
      snapped up his paintings for a song.

      But Muallas dissolute life in no way affected his
      art. His style was improvisational. Nudes, still
      lifes, landscapes, Paris streets, marketplaces,
      cafés, bars, bistros, jazz musicians, card
      players, balloon men, children, animals, the
      circus, hookers... In the words of Youki Desnos,
      Fikret Muallas are colors that evoke dreams and
      confer meaning.


      In 1959 Fikret Mualla paid several visits to
      southern France, where he came under the patronage
      of a certain Mme. Angles, who bought his paintings
      during this period. It was again Mme. Angles who
      extended a helping hand when he suffered a brain
      hemorrhage at the end of 1962, installing him in
      her home at Reillanne, a small village in the
      southern Alps. Continuing to paint, albeit without
      the old enthusiasm, Fikret Mualla seemed to sum up
      his life in a letter he wrote from there: In my
      opinion every artist should suffer hardship,
      anguish and hunger. Only after that should they
      enjoy life. After the age of fifty, people start
      to seek comfort and health, and to think. That is
      my fate. My life has passed in a struggle against
      poverty. Now in this quiet village I submit to
      living peacefully by myself waiting for the final
      period of my life as ordained by God. Apart from
      this I have no problems! No pretensions. We have
      seen every kind of circumstance the world has to
      offer, we have tasted very few of the pleasures of
      life.Today what is left but for my tongue to
      recall the past and my brush to paint?"

      Fikret Mualla died towards morning on 26 July 1967
      in a home for the indigent in the neighboring town
      of Mane. He was 64 years old. In 1974 his remains
      were brought to Turkey at the behest of the
      then-President of the Republic, Fahri Koruturk,
      and buried at Istanbuls Karacaahmet Cemetery. Let
      us leave the last word to Abidin Dino: A thousand
      stories could be told about Fikret Mualla, but
      thats not whats important. In my opinion, the only
      thing that needs to be mentioned is Muallas
      honesty of line and color, neither of which ever
      lied. His paintings never tended towards show,
      insincerity, artifice; they were never an affront
      to the truth... The paintings used in this article
      are from the collections of Oya and Bulent
      Eczacibasi [O.B.E.].

      Bilginsoy [B.], Luset and Mustafa Taviloglu
      [L.M.T.] and Dr. Safder Tarim [S.T.] and are
      published here compliments of Istanbul Modern.

      The reproductions are by Bahadir Taskin.

    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.