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Pehlivanli lives through his work

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    Pehlivanli lives through his work Ankara - Turkish Daily News It was six years ago when world-famous Turkish painter Rahmi Pehlivanli died from a sudden
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 9, 1998
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      Pehlivanli lives through his work

      Ankara - Turkish Daily News

      It was six years ago when world-famous Turkish painter Rahmi
      Pehlivanli died from a sudden illness. He was buried in his native
      Kirikkale's Keskin district. Every year on August 23, he is
      commemorated by his family, members of the Rahmi Pehlivanli Culture
      and Arts Foundation (PEKSAV) and other admirers.

      PEKSAV was founded by Pehlivanli and his wife Nurhan in 1992 when the
      painter began work on his project "Turkey: Color by Color" as part of
      Pehlivanli's wish to pass something on to the Turkish people.

      "Rahmi always said that he wanted to give a present to the Turkish
      people, that he wanted to bequeath something. From this point of view,
      his "Turkey: Color by Color" collection is a gift to the Turkish
      people, says Nurhan Pehlivanli. "The idea of establishing a foundation
      was based on this wish. We started to think of a way to do something.
      If we were to give the collection to a ???constitution or
      establishment, it would have been left aside. We wanted the collection
      to be alive and to be viewed by the Turkish people. We thought we
      could realize our goal with the help of the foundation."

      Although PEKSAV was founded while Rahmi Pehlivanli was still alive,
      his sudden illness and death prevented the foundation from starting
      its work. It was after the sad demise of the artist that the
      foundation was renewed and their first goal set: the establishment of
      a Rahmi Pehlivanli museum.

      "'Turkey: Color by Color' is perhaps one of the most important
      collections in the world. There is no other example like it, in which
      one artist painted an entire country, visiting every single city and
      district. The collection is also important as a documentary. Turkey, a
      rapidly changing country, experienced its most rapid development
      between 1980-1990, the time we were travelling all around the country
      for the collection," Nurhan Pehlivanli recalls.

      "Most of the places which Rahmi painted, then, is now under soil due
      to excavations,??? some are now under water due to dam construction.
      In addition, the collection, which was near completion when he died in
      1992, has the aspect of reflecting the structure of Anatolia. These
      paintings should be exhibited now. Therefore, I think the
      establishment of a Rahmi Pehlivanli museum is a must, especially in
      Ankara, because it is the center of the country and Rahmi's homeland.
      I have contacted local administrators and officials in the Ministry of
      Culture for this project," she adds.

      'Turkey: Color by Color'

      "Turkey: Color by Color" was a project Rahmi Pehlivanli had in mind
      for many years. According to Nurhan Pehlivanli, the artist was
      inspired by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish
      Republic. In 1938, with the idea of reflecting the newborn country,
      Ataturk wanted to send several painters to various locations
      throughout Anatolia and to exhibit the works of these painters. The
      project failed due to several reasons, and a second, similar effort
      started during 1940s was also doomed to failure.

      Rahmi, his wife Nurhan, who is also a painter, a driver and an
      assistant started their journey through Anatolia in 1982.

      "Rahmi was a in love with his country, and he knew Anatolian people
      very well," says Nurhan. "He always told me that travelling in Turkey
      would be like a second university education for him. It was really a
      great education."

      Rahmi Pehlivanli, who was known as one of the best
      portrait painters in the world, had the chance to spread his fame
      abroad, but he returned to his native country, which he truly loved.
      Visiting the Pehlivanli's home in Ankara, Rahmi's love for his country
      and the people of Anatolian is easily observable. Their home is
      decorated with the many objects they collected during their travels
      through Turkey.

      "Rahmi, stayed at palaces, presidential residences and the most
      luxurious hotels while he was drawing the portraits of kings, and
      presidents. He used to say that he finds rest at home where there
      is only few local object," Nurhan recalls.

      During their exploratory trip through Anatolia, which formed the basis
      for the collection "Turkey: Color by Color," the Pehlivanli's were met
      with the warm hospitality of the Anatolian people. "People were
      showing interest. We met people for whom our visit was the first
      contact with the plastic arts. It was not only painting, we were
      giving more, travelling to Anatolia, paying attention to people and to
      their culture. Close and warm relations are very important. You cannot
      paint a portrait or even take a photograph before establishing such a
      relationship. Every city and region has its own different, detailed
      traditions. You have to know them. For example, in the Black Sea
      region, you cannot take a photo of a local woman, even from a
      distance. They are very conservative on this subject."

      Pehlivanli's artistic career

      Born in 1926, Pehlivanli has exhibited his work throughout Europe, the
      Middle East and Africa, and his paintings can be found in museums and
      private art collections all over the world. He is especially known for
      his portraits of more than 25 kings and presidents including the late
      American President John F. Kennedy, Prince Philip the Duke of
      Edinburgh, the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and the late
      Turkish Presidents Celal Bayar, Cevdet Sunay and Turgut Ozal.



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