City pictures - Istanbul and its artists

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The city-picture Istanbul and its artists:

The city-picture Istanbul and its artists


The text represents interdisciplinary study that interprets the image of the city through verbal and visual optics of narrators Orhan Pamuk, photographer Ara Guler and artist Devrim Erbil. In his book “Istanbul. Memories and the City” Pamuk emphase on visually painted Istanbul and the city-picture (in lines with Kenneth Clark’s “Looking at Pictures”, 1960

Emotional Outlook:

Emotional Outlook The beauty of the landscape lies in sadness. Ahmet Rasim I am going to tell you about the sadness of an entire city, the sadness of Istanbul. Orhan Pamuk


Art presupposes phenomena in the world (M. Dufrain) as it forms conception in people's minds and, as it is well-known that everything we see and feel at the moment was for a long time in our head.


City-Picture The idea of city-picture was inspired by Fernand Braudel’s new historical conception of mapping of the city as a modern form of the study of civilization. He sees the city as key civilizational topos - especially Mediterranean city which emanations are Rome and Constantinople-Istanbul.

Orhan Pamuk: Narrator and Painter:

Orhan Pamuk: Narrator and Painter The texts of Orhan Pamuk, and especially the novel "Istanbul" is clearly an artistic work - the narrator is also a painter. They are confessions of love to the city; he modeled his personal view of the world. To draw city Istanbul is a huge challenge, available only to those who are not looking in nature, "in the pictures in his head" like Pamuk.

Being on the edge of Civilizations:

Being on the edge of Civilizations The museum-city and the city-palimpsest of the cultural memory that got together the biographies of different civilizations, is an aesthetically rationalized both on an epic scale and deeply intimate, as framed in a visual plane loaded with important the rapeutic functions.


Center-Periphery? This is the trauma of Europeanizing and Westernizing consciousness , to which Europe and the West are far from being the only global pattern for luxury and the only worlds of freedom (Braudel) .

Emotional Ground Color: :

Emotional Ground Color: As O. Pamuk says in his Nobel lecture, “At one end, there were Istanbul's books – our literature, our local world, in all its beloved detail – and at the other end were the books from this other, Western, world, to which our own bore no resemblance, to which our lack of resemblance gave us both pain and hope.”

Western Look on Istanbul:

Western Look on Istanbul Braudel represents to great extend the Western look at the city of Istanbul: "The urban space is fragmented ... ... on surface by the too wide sea rivers," ... castles, vineyards of Pera , markets, caravanserais, inns, gardens and residences, kiosks, mosques, squares, narrow, crooked, bumpy cobbled small streets, squeezed by houses painted in white, light blue, pink and yellow. “

Pamuk’s View:

Pamuk’s View The city of Pamuk is similar and yet very different. He also selects the Western but relative to the Eastern perspective. Catching up the lost time away from the “center” (Europe and world) in the city-picture in the novel "Istanbul" is a very Prustian but also quite a Balkan fixation of the artist-narrator

Istanbul Through Double Optics:

Istanbul Through Double Optics The pictures of artists and photographers on which he reflects in his book, follow the optics of so-called double textually. Textual comment translates and complements the painted, graphically sketched one or photographed.

“Let us tell this picture”.:

“Let us tell this picture”. The massive double-optic story, in which the narrative is a mandatory, works alongside with popularity but only seemingly follows the popular form of known intention: “Let us tell this picture”. The theatricality here is compulsory.


Hyuzun ? The Pamuk’s novel "Istanbul" relies on the one hand, on a definitive success of Kenneth Clarkian play "what happens in our minds when we look at pictures". On the other - puts fundamentally important question for art on mastered space as an existence. Even more interesting is the hidden presence and manifestation of a human - it's in furtive sadness. And the sadness ( hyuzun ) is a trademark of the world view of this city of Istanbul.

Pamuk’s interpretations of Mlling:

Pamuk’s interpretations of Mlling Antoine Ignace Melling and his famous engravings-reportages of time when Istanbul was Scutari, Stambul and Pera and surrounding heights and rounded hills are bare and empty ("deserted hills with poplar, sycamore trees, gardens ... "), a rounded geometry of the city.

Sadness as a beauty:

Sadness as a beauty Pamuk's interpretation of the genre is justified by Ruskin and his concept of randomly gained impact of the beauty "from a different discourse and through historical perspective, the gifted to us", however mixed with a eminent Bosphorus or, Turkish sadness ( hyuzun


Tranquility is the key word describing nature of these landscapes in topographical precision non-obfuscated by the fact that in them landscapes "there is no single center, as it is in Chinese scrolls or as movement in front of the lens of movie camera. ..” Ibid., p. 81-82.


Pamuk is convinced that these sad pictures represent the true "spirit of the city, its beauty." Melling is precious to Pamuk because his 48-pitoresk engravings recall to him „those places of childhood ... the center of the universe and life, the starting point of knowledge" once have not been . Which means that they are not eternal .


This taste of Melling reminds the ancient skill of miniaturists. It is a pledge of harmony, tranquility and simplicity in painting of those pieces of paradise. It is "the point at which the sadness and happiness intersect." Melling painted horizontally a deployable, low architectural world seen in a broader perspective from "the bosom of the city”.


Even in the presence of personal or material compositions (as it is in the case of boats, or other iconic images such as Genoese tower, Bebek hills, cypresses and rough sea, street musicians with a bear, kissing odalisques, coffee houses, fountain at “At Meydan ” etc. ) - concept of the fixing center is denied. That brings us back to the problem of the center - not just of a painting or creativity but the center as a topos of existence .


The lack of center in Melling's paintings may have been related to the intuitive sense of imbalance in the eastern man aspiring to the West. That fascinates the authors like Pamuk and later he will develop this idea in the motive of the movement of landscape sensed even earlier, in Melling’s works

Istanbul through the lens of Ara Guler:

Istanbul through the lens of Ara Guler The other main character in the spectacle- pleinair for Istanbul is the greatest Turkish artist photographer Ara Guler .


The atmosphere of the city in his photographs puts an emphasis on nostalgia and sadness. Snow, frozen harbors and white drifts among mosques, dark winter skies, evening rainy-snowy streets and roads, dark ruined streets and buildings, gray paving, gray-black boats and trams, smoking factory chimneys, flashing street lamps and automobile headlights and advertisements blinks, evening fog and dusk landscape rotates in the look of the reader-viewer.

Istanbul of Ara Guler:

Istanbul of Ara Guler Evening black and white Istanbul of childhood Pamuk senses and feels through the prism of Guler’s lens. He sealed the glittering lights and the nuances of shadows in the "the game between light and water" (it comes to the Guler’s album "Lost Istanbul ') of that tired and forgotten pitoresk city .


Ara Guler. Beyoglu , in the 60s .


Ara Guler, Magnum Photos, Istanbul, 1964


Evening black and white Istanbul of childhood Pamuk senses and feels through the prism of Guler’s lens. He sealed the glittering lights and the nuances of shadows in the "the game between light and water" (it comes to the Guler’s album "Lost Istanbul ') of that tired and forgotten pitoresk city. Pamuk was especially excited by the theme of steamers and "fantasy image of smoke", the thick smoke drawing the trajectory of the sadness of the landscape


In evaluation of Pamuk, Guler is a chronicler of the time, his works are reportage, and the dynamics of the world caught in a frozen piece of eternity can be felt again and again in them.

Istanbul in Black&White:

Istanbul in Black&White Kenneth Clark would make an allusion with Turner, if Pamuk himself was not in a hurry to emphasize: "I liked how the black smoke and low ominous clouds merge in smoky cloud the horizon as in Turner's canvasses. ..." Again and again recalling the form of a smoky cloud… Black and white face of the city is the trademark of Melling - Guler -Pamuk (although all three of them are about to draw and color).

"Have Istanbul ever been monochromatic?” :

"Have Istanbul ever been monochromatic?” Istanbul, however, can also be colorful as in the canvases of the contemporary artist Devrim Erbil. In his paintings we capture the predilection towards the precise calligraphic drawing that Pamuk calls “Gothic”.

Color, Rhythm, Vibrations…:

Color, Rhythm, Vibrations… We capture the dynamics of those impressive in size paintings portraying the city in the dominant selected color: red, yellow, gold, blue, orange, gold, black, gray... However we hardly can perceive the city as monochromatic topos, because of hidden passages of thought, rhythms and vibrations conquered flawlessly the spectator.

Between Visible and Invisible:

Between Visible and Invisible Momentarily Devrim Erbil involves the spectator into a journey between what is visible and what is unseen, into the dreams of memory, but also into the reality of senses (visual, auditory, flavoring, and sensory). Allegedly is dominantly monochrome, but it is not; in the mystery of the meanings of his paintings we are approaching more to the rhetoric of Pamuk’s black and white Istanbul. The colors explode in seeming monochrome

New look, new life…:

New look, new life… And the city began a new life: a colorful, multilayered, and transferred as in a time machine through the worlds of Melling and old masters (Western), but also crossed by sharp contours reminiscent of Uighur writings (Eastern)


An objective-associative connection between Erbil and Pamuk can be sought towards the history of the visual perception of the city Istanbul in general. Sharp and dynamic lines in the paintings of Erbil harmonize with the contemporary dynamics, but in the same time are harbored in a quiet look at the history.


Devrim Erbil. View to the Golden Horn. Istanbul. 2009


Erbil proves in one of the most unexpected canvases - orange-red "View of the Golden Horn." The forms in his landscapes - in fact exempt from own form and transformed into an objective-free existence outside of space-time, in the abstract existence and endless eternity actually demonstrate the precision of hidden Melling’s realism.


Symptomatic is the plot of the autumn-yellow Istanbul: a sky populated with birds, Blue Mosque - supposedly in the center, but actually hidden in the thick strokes of the city seen from above – from a bird's eye view point, in accordance with the tradition of the famous Ottoman miniaturist Nasuh Matrakchi . This is exactly „the realm" of the artist's point of view, according to Pamuk


Here the realm is somewhere in heaven, in skies ... And again we are asking ourselves: Where is the center? In the domes of mosques? In horizon line? In birds? Laid among other mosques, minarets, buildings, hills, the sky of Istanbul is over everything. The heart of the artist vibrates in harmony with the heart of the Universe. Traditional miniature places such as Galata , Bosphorus , Sultan Ahmed, are not fulfilled however in the traditions of classical genre neither in traditional colors


Here at Erbil’s works the richness of colors are extracted also trough neon glare seems like moving from earthly to heavenly, and the flight of birds connects fairy world of Istanbul with Universum. That he is somewhat approaching the Melling perspective and reads Istanbul through the warm look of Pamuk.


Istanbul: reminiscent of Uighur writings and bird’s view of Nasuh Matrakci


Pictures of Erbil overflows in color but remain faithful to a single dominant color and energy that turns them into a subject to an endless process of interpretation. We are looking for ever new meanings in them, reaching a completeness of expressiveness through the registration of precisely accomplished forms.


"What's the point to be born exactly on a specific place of the world and on a certain date? “ In the novel "Istanbul" Orhan Pamuk questioned his implicit reader but actually himself and all of us. Happiness to wander and stray in search of answers, in search of self and others= T hose are the themes uniting these four artists Erbil, Pamuk, Melling and Guler all of them so close and so far away, but always in the right place at the right time: at the time of memory and nowness, in the peerless Istanbul

Thank you for your attention!:

Thank you for your attention!

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