Elgiz family strengthens ties with Mytilene with show

Elgiz family strengthens ties with Mytilene with show

Beril Aktaş - MYTILENE, Greece
Elgiz family strengthens ties with Mytilene with show The founders of Turkey’s first contemporary art Museum, Elgiz Museum, have made a long-time dream come true by opening an exhibition, titled “Lines of Passage” (in medias res), at Halim Bey Mansion on the Greek island of Mytilene. 

“Displaying a small part of the Elgiz Collection here may be the most important one of our hundreds of exhibitions so far,” Can Elgiz, one of the owners of the museum along with his wife, Sevda Elgiz, said during the event, which ran from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1.

Hosted by the Elgiz family, dozens of guests, including famous Turkish historian and Professor İlber Ortaylı as well as many art lovers, joined a two-day event on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 for the opening ceremony of the exhibition in Halim Bey Mansion, where Can Elgiz’s great-grandfather Kulaksızoğlu Halim Bey was born. 

Guests, who were welcomed by Mytilene Mayor Spirnos Galinos at Mytilene International Airport, also had the chance to visit the sights of the island accompanied by tourist guides. 

Halim Bey served as a governor in Mytilene and was also a respected art collector, making many contributions to the island. Halim Bey died in 1920, after which both Greek and Turkish stores in Mytilene remained closed out of respect.

During the population exchange in 1923, Halim Bey’s son and Can Elgiz’s grandfather Sufi Bey was among those who had to leave his homeland with his family and come to Turkey’s Ayvalık. 

The Halim Bey Mansion has been restored by Mytilene Municipality and now serves as an art gallery and an example of the island’s Ottoman-era architecture.

“During my childhood, I always heard the name of Mytilene as a long-awaited place,” said Can Elgiz, at the opening ceremony.

“It was 10 years ago when I saw Mytilene for the first time as well as the mansion of my grandfather, which serves as an art gallery today. I have always been asked, ‘Why did you become a collector?’ and I have always replied that I got a good art education when I was studying architecture and that my family loved art. In recent years, I gained a new reason when I learned that my grandfather was a philanthropist and a person who was a sponsor of art and artists. Meanwhile, Mytilene Municipality has restored the Halim Bey Mansion and opened it to the public as an art space.”

During the ceremony, Can Elgiz was also granted honorary citizenship by the mayor. 


Curated by Başak Şenova, “Lines of Passage (in medias res)” endeavors to demonstrate a variety of connections among narratives of memory and expressions of differing intensities and stylistic approaches through works of art selected from the permanent collection of the Elgiz Museum in Istanbul. 

Sevda and Can Elgiz began amassing the collection in 1980 by focusing on “the contemporary” in art and life. In 2001, they made the collection accessible to the public at the museum. 

The exhibition includes artwork in various media ranging from paintings to sculptures, installations to objects and photographs to film and video by prominent artists including Pınar Yolaçan, Oleg Dou, Cindy Sherman, Azade Köker, Bedri Baykam, Bengü Karaduman, Ferhat Özgür, Gilbert & George, Hale Tenger, Tracey Emin, Mateo Mate, Burak Delier, Gülsün Karamustafa, İhsan Oturmak, Kendell Geers, Komet, Nan Goldin, Nilbar Güres, Özlem Günyol, Rebecca Horn, Tomur Atagök, Veljko Zejak, Ola Kolehmainen, Benji Boyadgian and Hera Büyüktaşçıyan.

The exhibition is also accompanied by a book in Turkish, Greek and English. 

“Lines of Passage (in medias res)” can be seen through Nov. 11 at the Municipal Art Gallery of Mytilene, also known as the Halim Bey Mansion.