A story from Marseille to İzmir

A story from Marseille to İzmir

The best time to enjoy Istanbul is during the Bayram days. 

There is no traffic jam which no doubt has become the nightmare of everybody; the streets, avenues and parks are exceptionally empty. And if you are like me, if you have not found the opportunity to visit it yet, the 13th Istanbul Biennial is waiting for you. 

The biennial is continuing until the weekend. Sponsored by Koç Holding, this year’s biennial is free and it is possible to have a guide. 

I will visit the biennial during the Bayram but I have another exhibition in İzmir that is in my mind and heart. 

It is quite possible to visit that exhibition if I buy a mid-Bayram plane ticket. 

The exhibition opened at the end of last month at Arkas Art Center, named “Smyrna in the 18th and 19th Centuries: A Western Perspective,” depicts this Aegean port city through the eyes of the Western traveler. 

The Arkas Art Center was opened two years ago at the former French Consulate building at Kordon. Up until today, it has hosted exhibitions, each more beautiful than the one before. 

The last exhibition is showcasing, as well as the Arkas collection, more than 300 documents and artworks which have been collected from leading European museums, libraries and private collections such as the Louvre, British Museum, Bibliotheque Nationale de France and Rijksmuseum. 

In the exhibition, alongside the paintings and gravures of the time, there are photographs exhibited for the first time and several documents that reflect the commercial and social life of İzmir of these centuries. 

As far as I know, the scientific committee that supported the Arkas Art Center has worked for two years in Turkey and in Europe for the exhibition. 

İzmir was among the important commercial ports of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th Century.

In the 19th Century, it evolved into, without doubt, one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the east. 

The person behind this comprehensive exhibition is the third generation boss of Arkas Holding and its head of executive committee, Lucien Arkas.

He is a true İzmir lover. His grandfathers emigrated from Marseille to İzmir in the 18th century and traded in this city for centuries. 

The story of the exhibition, which starts in Marseille, in a way, is at the same time the story of Lucien Arkas’ grandfathers. 

Their 19th century family house near İzmir has been transformed into “Arkas Maritime History Center.”
It is no surprise that Lucien Arkas is one of the most important names in Turkey in the maritime transportation and logistics sector. 

After all, their ancestors are people who have sailed from the other end of the Mediterranean to a new world. 

Lucien Arkas today, with his 30 container ships and three oil tankers has the biggest fleet in Turkey and in the Mediterranean. 

Only last week, Clarkson Research Services Limited ranked Lucien Arkas in 24th place on the list of “Container Fleet Ownership” in the world. 

Despite the crises that hit the maritime sector in 2008, Arkas continued growing its fleet. In one of our previous interviews, Lucien Arkas had said this: 

“Turkey can only meet its export target of 500 billion dollars for 2023 through industry products. The way to transport these to the world is container ships. For this, we should continue growing.”