Avni Lifij at Sabancı Museum
Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum (SSM) hosts a new exhibition titled “Avni Lifij. The Modern of His Time,” providing a comprehensive insight into the versatile artistic production of Hüseyin Avni Lifij (1886-1927), who occupies a unique position in the history of Turkish painting.
At a press conference held on Oct. 14 for the opening of the exhibition, Sabancı Holding CEO Cenk Alper said, “We, as the Sabancı Holding, are very happy to embrace the masters of Turkish art and to assume the sponsorship of this exhibition ‘Avni Lifij. The Modern of His Time,’ which features a comprehensive take on the artist’s work.”
Alper said, “We have adopted the mission of introducing our country’s valuable individuals to wider audiences. The Feyhaman Duran and Selim Turan exhibitions we sponsored in the recent years attracted great interest. The Avni Lifij exhibition focuses on the third important master of Turkish art. Avni Lifij is one of the most innovative figures of the 1914 generation, he has a perspective beyond time, with his versatility and productivity.”
SSM director Nazan Ölçer also provided information about the exhibition, saying, “Our museum’s long-term project aiming to study and present the great pioneers of Turkish painting with all their aspects, continue with Avni Lifij. He is not only a great painter, but also a real intellectual, a fine art critic, photographer and philosopher who is way beyond his time and whose articles include brave criticisms of contemporary artistic events, social life and education system.”
About the exhibition
The exhibition consists of the artist’s works covering a wide range of genres such as self-portraits, pochades, landscapes and compositions with figures as well as his articles on politics and culture, art criticism and photographs. It focuses on Lifij as a man of culture, providing a detailed view of his life and art with a selection of approximately 1,000 pieces including oil paintings, studies, drawings, sketches, pochades, photographs, archive materials and personal belongings.
The “Avni Lifi. The Modern of His Time,” the concept of which was developed by Ölçer, who also directed the organization of the exhibition, aims to provide a detailed perspective in discussing the art of this pioneer of Turkish art history, as well as the 1914 Generation painters.
Carefully preserved archival materials and personal belongings from the descendants of Lifij, and most notably, the wife of the painter, Harika Lifij are exhibited together with the artist’s masterpieces for the first time in Turkish art history.
The selection reflecting Lifij’s strong desire to practice his art includes the artist’s works, which are among the masterpieces of Turkish painting history from the collections of Sakıp Sabancı Museum, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Istanbul Painting and Sculpture Museum, Ankara Painting and Sculpture Museum, National Library and private collections.
The exhibition enables the visitors to view Lifij’s paintings such as “The Man with a Pipe: The Artist’s Self-portrait,” “Fevzi Çakmak’s Portrait,” “Allegory,” and “The Artist’s Self-portrait,” which have not been exhibited for a long time or have been in private collections and never exhibited before.
The pochades in exhibition, which focuses on Lifij’s search for a unique place, as an artist who lived in the era of the fall of the Ottoman Empire and proclamation of the Turkish Republic, will enable the visitors to track the development of the style he practiced in his depictions of Istanbul and Anatolia.
In order to shed light on the artist’s largely undiscovered works in photography, all glass negatives and photographs in Sirel family archives are presented together, and with the pochades to some of which they provided the basis.
His self-portraits which played a decisive role in his artistic career and which exhibit indications of how he positioned himself during different periods of his life will be exhibited together. His drawings and proofs of his mastery will point to the importance of the figure for the artist, while his sketches depicting architectural details will reflect his interest in city planning and art history, topics he focuses on in his articles as well.
The artist’s writings in Ottoman and French, including art critiques, articles on city planning, cultural policies and art theory, as well as philosophical texts translated by him, are exhibited in the museum.
The exhibition, which will run through Jan. 12, 2020, provides a comprehensive view of Lifij’s art and life through documentary viewings, conferences, guided tours and children’s workshops, as well as the exhibition catalogue which will comprise of the biography of the artist, articles on his versatile career and a wide selection of his works, thereby constituting a reference book about him.