Turkey’s transformation as told through art
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Halil Paşa’s ‘Madam X,’ which won a bronze medal in the 1889 Paris World’s Fair is among the paintings in the exhibit.Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum (SSM) is showcasing its extensive painting collection under the title “While a Country is changing – Turkish Painting from the Ottoman Reformation to the Republic.”
Through the art of painting, the exhibition reveals Turkey’s social and economic transition the country discovered belatedly but embraced rapidly. The exhibition opened Dec. 24 and includes the works of significant Turkish painters such as Osman Hamdi Bey, Halil Paşa, Abdülmecid Efendi, İzzet Ziya and Fikret Mualla Saygı.
The exhibition, under Professor Semra Germaner and Associate Professor Ahu Antmen’s guidance, will give visitors a chance to see Turkish painting’s historical journey. Germaner said she and her colleagues tried to choose pieces that most reflected the development of Turkish painting among a selection of 500 works. “We see in these works that modernization started in the Ottoman Empire.”
A gallery has been designed exclusively to display the exhibit permanently at the SSM. Antmen said the gallery’s design was suitable for the era the paintings reflected.
The collection, including pieces from late businessman Sakıp Sabancı’s private collection, presents a wide spectrum of Turkish painting from a collector’s standpoint, showing the art’s progression from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic. The paintings Sabancı gathered show his personal interest for a certain era in Turkish painting; the collection shows a hint of the initial phase the way painting developed in Turkey. The exhibition also reveals the transition in image production and the changes in Turkish art and artists.
Among the nearly 100 works art lovers will see are Halil Paşa’s “Madam X,” which won a bronze medal in the 1889 Paris World’s Fair, and Osman Hamdi Bey’s “Naile Hanım,” displayed for the first time in Turkey. Standing out with its gold gilding in the background used to portray saints in Byzantine portraits, “Naile Hanım” emphasizes the importance Hamdi Bey held for his wife and women in general while also showing the social structure of the era.
Nazmi Ziya Güran’s “Taksim Meydanı” represents the standard of living that the Republic brought and, more notably, the freedom it provided for Turkish women. Germaner said among other themes, the exhibition focused on women. “There are modern visuals of female figures... The first nude paintings began to be displayed in the 1920s.”
Development of Turkish painting
At a press conference held Dec. 23, Director of SSM Nazan Ölçer said, “We are presenting the story and development of Turkish painting in a new spatial arrangement from the Reformation to the Republic.
The paintings form a solid ground in order to comprehend the sense of art and different points of views in Turkish painting with different perspectives and inclinations of modernism. With the new arrangement we are going to continue our education programs and workshops for students and young people, along with workshops for adults.”
Throughout the year, conferences and documentary screenings will also be held to complement the exhibition.