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Omer MUZ:  Painting, Music, Poetry and
My Daughter Elif Maya...
An Interview with Omer Muz on Watercolor Paintings

by Sabati KARAKURT

Omer MUZ is preparing for a new exhibition in New York on his passionate theme, Istanbul. The exhibition will open on October 28 and will closed on November 21, 2003 at the Turkish Culture & Tourism Gallery (46 Street & 1st Avenue)in Manhattan. Sabati KARAKURT made below interview with the artist in Istanbul, and it never published previously.

With this interview, we like to introduce you Omer Muz's approach to Istanbul, art, and life.


- I realize that watercolor painting is quite a difficult task which needs a lot of care and patience and I would like to know what would be the aesthetic worry for you in painting your works? What do you feel when depicting the nostalgia from our childhood in your Istanbul paintings? I guess what I really am trying to say is that there is a certain level of sadness in your paintings but despite the sadness, we still can't hold back from falling in love with Istanbul again in looking at your paintings. Could you please tell us a bit more about the streets of your childhood? It looks as if the sadness just comes from your heart and is expressed in your watercolors!

- You are absolutely right!.. Sadness is an integral part of my paintings, because it is nourished by the screams of my childhood and memories which were destroyed by force..and it is so sad that the sun shines on each morning on the destroyed and broken beauties. This is to me, the biggest betrayel which the mankind can do to the places which it lives in..and, while everyone takes part in such unfaithful act, I try my best to stay out and be as honest as I can.. I live through the nostalgia not in the philosophical sense, but in the deepest oceans of sadness. As for the aesthetic worry, I tend to have the light wander around in a romantic fashion in the different parts of the painting without demolishing the nature of the form, but only by mixing the impressionist view with the documentary taste. As for my shades, they just stand out as an important aspect to hide the ugliness and the sulky faces.


It is as if you follow in the footsteps of the compass of light and shade in your paintings. Without bringing much of an abstract view to objects and places where the natural light is omitted, you give us tastes arising from the togetherness of the known relationship between water and color. You applause the purity of nature while at the same time you express the poetic nature of your paintings. My question is: Your fine brush effects leave poetic tastes. I am thrilled about this and I ask whether you have interest in poetry too? Or you also come from a deep loneliness?

- As you know, an artist is one who keeps alive in his/her soul all branches of art. Poetry is one of my hidden parts which is suppressed or even supervised and which I am hesitant to bring to light. But I want it to stay as a friend who shares my moments full of thoughts.

In this respect, I also get along well with music.There are four things in my world which basically nourish my existence in this world: painting, music, poetry and my daughter Elif Maya… as for loneliness, one can still be lonely and loneliness can not be shared.

- I have never seen a world like the one which we live in. It is cries, blood and pain all over the places. I am not a hopeless individual but I guess I am a bit pessimist. One is appalled in observing how notions like art and artist are constantly being abused and how much credit is given to the works which have very little quality in them. When do you think that the media will finally start to pay off on its indebtness of loyalty to the true atrists? Unbelievable paradoxes are taking place. A general tastelessness is all over the places. How do you perceive the concept of art and artist in our society where non-quality is so much rewarded?

-Well, we are part of a generation of a new Republic. Is is not an easy task for art and artist to establish themselves as respectable institutions in a society. The effort and the struggle shown in the last 80 years have given pre-mature birth to the art and the artist and as unable to complete their natural course of maturity, they have become the victims of general erosion of values in the society.


In this day and age, the notions of art and artist are offerred to the viewer in a form which has very liettle substance in it. The society is constantly being exposed to the loss of culture and the acquired values and furthermore this is expressed as a virtue. What is even worse is that the media plays the instrumental role in achieving this.

- I also want to learn your thoughts on the Turkish painting. For example, would you say that the Turkish painting is recognized to have accomplishments at the international level? Or, should I say, do Turkish artists earn the respect they deserve? What would you say about the triangle of the art gallery, artist and the buyer?

- They would have to allocate us the entire publication if I start to talk about the Turkish painting and its current standing. It is a rather a long subject. However as I can see from the local media and the art publications, a number of Turkish painters are accomplishing works which are internationally recognized. Anyone who watches the local TV channels can easily see the value given to the art and artist. Where else can one see a media which has turned so much of its back on the art and artist?? To me, the triangle of the gallery owner, artist and the buyer is a happy environment where the artist has the opportunity to bring his/her work to the appreciation of the buyer.

- Let me ask my sharpest question! "…painting is a means of offense and defense against the enemy. What do you think an artist is? Do you think a painter is a stupid who only has eyes and the musician is the one with ears only? The artist is the one who is always lively and can react…" For instance, Picasso! How do you evaluate his accomplishments?

- I fully respect and agree with Picasso… He is a brave artist who has stood against the totalitarian regimes in the name of art, peace and humanity, and became a symbol of rebellion. I consider him as a genius who has created "cubism" and depicted the ruthless face of the World War II in his "Guernica".


* * *

1) Omer Muz 2) Elif Maya, daughter of the artist

Profile of Omer MUZ 

Born in Istanbul in 1957, Omer Muz went through his secondary education in the same city. He has started his career as a graphic artist and cartoonist in various media institutions.In subsequent years, he has drawn cover illustrations and comic strips for various foreign publications. He has prepared the posters for many Turkish films in the 1980's. Following his short trip to Italy in the early 1990's he began concentrating his works on watercolor.

The artist, having paintings in some private collections in California, Paris and Vienna, demonstrates a strong watercolor technique along with an impressionist style. In his paintings Omer Muz reflects with his brush, warm depictions of a grand city like Istanbul which is a world cultural heritage and belongs to the mankind with its unique historical texture. He paints the old houses in Sultanahmet, Balat and within the old city walls, the streets in Zeyrek, the boats in the Golden Horn, all of which are reflections from his childhood and symbolizes the authentic texture of Istanbul.

He follows the school of artists such as Hoca Ali Riza, Uskudarli Cevat and Hikmet Onat, all of whom are considered to be the pioneers of the Turkish impressionist artists.

Omer Muz is a member of the Kadikoy Artists Society. He has a daughter named Elif Maya Muz. Currently he works in his own studio in Istanbul and holds periodic watercolor courses.

This issue is dedicated to Global Awareness: All The Shah's Men & "Strategy of Preemptive Strive"

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