Late Summer. Late Sunday. Late… Still not too late for art. Not too late for dreams. Never too late for Istanbul. Depicted in blue and orange. Cold and hot. Rational and passionate. One muse, several artists. Frozen moments in warm rays. Past and present. History and future. Tradition and modernity. It’s all here. No technical terms, only paint drops and feelings from someone who loves Istanbul and art. Far from being an expert, grounded only in the reality of subjective emotions aroused from less or more famous canvases. I made a selection of my favourite paintings, which have the power to make me dream about their muse. About the world’s capital, as Napoleon used to call it. About Istanbul.
I’ve unwittingly chosen paintings dominated by orange and blue. After a brief reflection I’ve concluded that these have to be the colours of Istanbul. At least for me. I see Istanbul in orange and blue. Whether we talk about tradition, warm sunny days, adventure, passion, rust, noisy people and music, electric burst… or silence, modernity, reason, dreams, refreshing waves binding the icy sky, it’s all Istanbul. Orange and blue. Orhan Gürel knew this, and added to his blue Istanbul mild rays of orange. He melted the contrasting colours until it was impossible to separate them (see the first painting).
Another painter who was inspired by Istanbul and whom I admire is Erbil Devrim. His unique painting style is somehow opposing Gürel’s style by tracing clear lines instead of blurred contours. His originality caught the attention of the international audience. According to Quadro Art, in 1968 Devrim was elected Turkey’s “Young Artist Of The Year” and in 1991 he was awarded the prestigious title of Turkey’s State Artist.  In my opinion these are two of his best pieces:
Orange or blue? Or both? I cannot decide!
My list couldn’t ignore the painter who was awarded “The Most Successful Artist of Turkey” in 2004, Ismail Acar. In his paintings the “East appears to meet the West, with tens of thousands of years’ history viewed by him in a contemporary way . Ismail Acar applies contemporary media techniques, including computer technology, to traditional painting techniques.”  The following painting is without question my no. 1 from his work! It gives me a dreamy insight of reality, without drawing a line between fantasy and truth, providing the opportunity to choose which Istanbul fits us better. The inside one, the outside one? The upside down Istanbul?
However my favourite paintings depicting Istanbul were created by the Ukrainian-born Russian-Armenian painter Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (1817-1900). Tutt’arta tells us his story: “In 1845, Aivazovsky went to İstanbul upon the invitation of Sultan Abdülmecid I, a city he was to travel to eight times between 1845-1890. During his long sojourn in İstanbul, Aivazovsky was commissioned for a number of paintings as a court painter by the Ottoman Sultans Abdülmecid, Abdulaziz and Abdulhamid, 30 of which are currently on display in the Ottoman Imperial Palace, the Dolmabahce Museum and many other museums in Turkey.”  When I’m looking at these paintings I feel like travelling back to time. They nurture my curiosity about the Ottoman past and flatter my imagined memory.
Is there anything more beautiful than Constantinople bathing in the warm sunset rays? I would love to have one of this painting in my living room! Although it’s quite risky…as I might be unable to take my eyes off this master-pieces…
What about you? Which one do you prefer?
Erbil, Devrim, Quadro Fine Art Gallery (visited: 31.08.2014)
The Evolution of Turkish Art, “The Art History Archive” (visited: 31.08.2014)
Ivan Aivazovsky | Seascape and landscape painter, “Tutt’arta” (visited: 31.08.2014)