Art master branching out into new directions in ‘ebru’

Art master branching out into new directions in ‘ebru’

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Art master branching out into new directions in ‘ebru’

Ebru art typically consists of flowers or similar patterns, but ebru painter Nedim Sönmez has branched out to now depict Istanbul. The technique has raised eyebrows among the ebru masters. AA photo

Tracing a path less ordinary in one of the most traditional Ottoman art forms, ebru master Nedim Sönmez is departing from the standard forms of the art to depict his love for Istanbul.

Ebru art typically consists of flowers or similar patterns, but Sönmez has branched out to now depict the city.

Speaking to Anatolia news agency, Sönmez said he learned about ebru during his high school years in the northwestern province of Edirne.

Sönmez said that even though he was into art, he did not study the subject, preferring to study management at Istanbul University even as he read about ebru in his spare time.

After graduating from university, Sönmez moved to Germany to complete a master’s degree. Not long after moving to the country, Sönmez said he visited Italy, where he discovered a small shop in Rome that was full of ebru paintings.

“I saw some books with writings about ebru paintings. However, in the writings it said ebru was a French art, and there was a lot of wrong information about ebru,” he said. “I said I could give them the right information and decided to open an ebru atelier. When I got back to Germany, I opened an ebru atelier.”

Noting that most of his works were sold at his first show in Germany, Sönmez said he was encouraged by the great interest in ebru.

“In 1982, I made ebru in an untraditional way. Instead of using traditional ebru patterns, I have decided to add my own patterns,” he said.

Longing for Istanbul and the life in the city

Noting that his longing for Istanbul had convinced him to make ebru paintings featuring landscapes of Istanbul, Sönmez said he added Istanbul views to his paintings – something that had never been done before.

“I loved to go scuba diving in Istanbul around the islands, and I started by drawing fish on ebru paintings,” said Sönmez. “I drew camels and things like this, and these paintings raised a lot of interest.”

Sönmez, whose paintings have been exhibited in international exhibitions, said the ebru works featuring landscapes of Istanbul had raised eyebrows in the city. Even though most people loved the paintings, they thought Sönmez’s direction was a violation of the ebru technique of ebru and that he was doing something wrong.

“The old ebru masters said it was not right to draw these patterns on ebru paintings,” said Sönmez, adding that it was very hard to overcome traditions and habits.

Noting that masters have added something new to ebru painting in every era, Sönmez said: “If no one had added something new to ebru since the 16th century, we would have been doing the same ebru as in the 16th century.”

This means there would not be any flowers in ebru paintings “because in the past, old masters said ebru did not contain flowers,” said Sönmez.

Sönmez also said he never wanted to give his own name to a style of ebru, but added: “I will be the one who added views to ebru. The most important thing is to gain people’s liking.”