Assoc. Prof. Nazan ERKMEN


The first engraving woman artist in Turkey, Aliye Berger belongs to a  very noble family. She is the daughter of Sakir Pasha and Sare Ismet,  born in 1910 in Istanbul. She is raised up  in a very intellectual surrounding where all the members of the sakir Pasha family appear either as writers or artists.  Her father, Sakir Pasha is an Oxford graduate and her uncle is the GrandVizier of Cevat Pasha. who had graduated from the Academy of War with an honour degree. He had joined the Ottoman- Russian war, and had been awarded with extraordinary authorities due to his success in the Berlin Treaty and his intellectual capacity both in history and linguistics.  He had been appointed to Crete as a Mayor and a Commander lately.  Cevat Pasha tried very hard to prevent the Ottoman Empire to join the war and he had been accused to be responsible to dishonour the empire's authority when he mentioned the necessity of reducing the palace administrators' rights and demands on the government and the national policy and exiled to Demascus and he died of tuberculosis in this city.

Aliye Berger's father and uncle were politicians who devoted themselves to history and politics. They were real intellectuals of the Ottoman Empire and they spared their time to read and write all the time. Cevat Pasha is the author of History of Janissaries, and her father Sakir Pasha wrote the book titled the History of Ottoman Empire.  Cevat Pasha gave great emphasis and care on education and art.  Therefore, he was very keen with his daughters' education.  He tried very hard to give them a perfect education and paid for the private language teachers to teach her daughters English and French  and he also encouraged them to take painting lessons and urged them to work on art.  He also established a primary school in Büyükada. in which his daughter. Aliye Berger also continued her studies in this school later on. She then went to  Notre Dame de Sion and later continued her studies in Madame Bragiotti's private school when the war started.

We learn very much about Aliye Berger and her family in Füreyya, the famous and popular novel of the Turkish contemporary woman writer Ayse Kulin.   According to Kulin, Aliye is an unforgettable character with her pure '-blue wide eyes, carefully coloured lips with dark red lipstick, mad coloured wearings, unending excitement and never ending love. (1) She used to go around with pink ribbons in her hair. Dressed in vivid colours, she reminded an angel. She managed to bewitch people with her long and elegant fingers when she started playing the piano.

I was lucky enough to be introduced to her during my university years in Fine Arts Faculty and I was really stuck with her charm and dazzling personality.  She had vivid colours on her as usual and she had a very dark lipstick and wonderful blond hair, very neat and very chique. She was very thin and I think she was about 70 years old at that time.  She came to the engraving atelier earlier than all of us and never stopped working and never asked for help from any of us.

Sakir Pasha held the Palace administrators responsible for the death of his brother and resigned from the Palace administration. He spent his time in the georgeous kiosk in Büyükada, reading and writing. Their father's passion of reading had influenced each member of the family.  It was forbidden for children to enter his enchanted library without having his permission. Every were full of books even up to the ceiling.  Aliye Berger, spent most of her time infront of the library door, keeping her eyes on the door opening to watch her father.

Again, according to Kulin's book, this kiosk in Büyükada had a deeper meaning than a residence for the children born in the island.  The children of the Sakir Pasha kiosk were deemed as the seeds of this very kiosk rather than the children of a mother and a father. The kiosk had given its vital fluid to the children and the roots of the kiosk had been infused to the breadth of the children.  The inside of the kiosk had been furnished with luxurious Ottoman furniture and an army of 15 servants lived in this kiosk and the children enjoyed very much to live altogether in the same house.  They had happy time to slide over the stairs to fall one after another.  Even Aliye, older than the others, enjoyed to play with the youngesters and she, too, hideously slided over the stairs when no one was around.

Rasied in this atmosphere, Aliye's brother became to be a famous writer who is called as the  "Fisherman of Halicarnassus" his real name was Musa Cevat Sakir Kabaagaçli.  He was a graduate of Robert College, one of the most important education institutions in Turkey and worked for the Daily Ikdam in 1904.  He graduated from Oxford University, The Department of New Age History.  He had been condemned to 14 years for shooting his own father, Sekir Pasha.  He was prisoned for 7 years and released due to his illness.  He was accused for his write up which was published in Resimli Hafta magazine and had been exiled to Bodrum in 1925.  Bodrum became a starting point in his life. He wrote his books using the nick name "The Fisherman of Halicarnasus" and became a very famous writer.  (2) Her sister Fahrünissa Zeid became a very famous painter. And Füreya, her aunt became a very popular ceramics artist who had first introduced ceramics art to Turkey.   I think the very fact which led every member of the family to be artists is that music and literature were apart of their life.

Aliye opened her eyes to a life full of literature and music and she, too, devoted much of her time to reading.  She read Voltaire when she was only 17, she, then, started reading Strindgberg, Ibsen and Dostoyievsky.  She used to take notes while she was reading.  She was an enthusiastic reader and wished to be a writer very much. She took note of her own feelings, thoughts and joy and had a great passion for writing.

She desperately wanted to be an artist. She tried to write and kept an eye on her sister's struggle with the canvas, who will later appear as a famous Turkish woman painter Fahrünissa Zeid.  She saw a world of colours and forms in her sisters' dream world, but Aliye was afraid to put her feelings into shape through colours and lines.  But the paints used by a painter meant to be a way of expression and that irritated her in a way when she thought to be a painter.           

For Aliye Berger, literature, painting, music and art in short, were the equals of 'beauty'.  She grasped the meaning of art in her soul and mind when she was very young.  And beauty did not only mean aesthetics. She found extra ordinary beauty in the humanly behaviour or in sacrificing oneself for an ideal.  Life was full of destutitions, inequalities, injustices, but for Aliye Berger, these were not the reasons enugh to cancel or forget the concept of beauty.  She believed just the opposite; those misfortunes could be overcome by way of 'beauty'.  She looked for beauty everywhere when she was 15 and lived for it till the end of her life.  Her enthusiasms, the beauty of love were the equals of beauty.  Beauty was hidden in life itself.  One had to recreate in order to discover this mystery. 

Berger strived to create passionately.  The definition given to beauty by the aestheticians were not her area of interest.  She believed that the man who had the capacity to create was somehow challenging the God or providing an equality between the God and the man. And what was beautiful for Aliye Berger were to create. She even thought the problems, impasses of the soul or the illbred of human beings of Dostoyievsky were beautiful. Or it was "beautiful" and humanly for Strindberg to create a novel a or to rehearse music with Carl Berger or to listen to Brahms or Bach was another face of beauty.  In short, art was equal to beauty.

When Aliye Berger first started painting, she was about 17.  One day while her sister was painting in the garden, she fainted all of a sudden. She was hurriedly carried into the house. Aliye was alone with the paintings and was stunned with the beauty of art.  She held the pallette in her hands feaurfully.  She found an empty canvas. But how would she start?  What would she draw?  A corner in the garden had always drew her attention.  This was the orange greenhouse near the stable. Aliye had hidden many reminescences in that corner. To paint it, would be like capturing the past.

"Love" held a very important place in her life.  She believed in love with all her soul. Love was equal to beauty.  Everything was beautiful which was created through love and care.  When she fell in love,  the world grew larger and she  saw the whole universe in a flower, in a child's face or in the sunrise or in the dawnfall of a day and mostly in the look of a man.  Her love was Carl Berger.   Berger, an Hungarian originated musician had joined a public revolt in Hungaria and took refuge to Turkey when the revolt was over.  He became the music teacher of the family and she fell in love with him  at first glance.

Love had a positive change in her personality.  Her intravert personality had opened her doors to the world.  She rediscovered everything she saw, she read and listened to.  Carl Berger was not only a music teacher for her, but a man who opened the doors to literature, painting and to the whole world.  And he appeared in all her engravings.

Aliye Berger cared for words. She took notes of Carl Bergers' conversations, philosophy and the words he used.  She tried to take notes on art and whatever is included in the name of art. On the other hand, the colours attracted her attention very much. Even through she was not good enough in oil painting, something called her to be included in art.  Carl asked her to draw his portrait some day. He told her to draw it from her memory , not looking at him. He told him she could do it even if she did not ever see him again.  Somehow he had spoken as if he had perceived the inauspicious future. Aliye drew hundreds of Carls' portraits. She carved them on engraving plates, on canvases, her eyes closed. After his death, she did nothing, but carved the plates.

She lived a great love for 32 years. Death did not end their love.   As long as they loved each other, signature or formality did not mean much for them.  They got married 23 years after they met.   They never thought of putting this love into a procedure. And in fact, marriage did not bring them good luck. On the sixth month of their marriage,  Carl had a heart attack. Aliye wished to die with Carl when she lost her. To live without him would only be a vegetal life.  She tried to suicide but they saved her. Her love lived within her hearth, in her soul, everywhere in her body and mind.   Love, even after death, added a meanning to her life and art , changed her philosophy of life.

The Painter “Alyoşa” gave birth to life after her husbands' sudden death. She had lost 20 pounds after losing him. Her sister, the famous painter, Fahrünnisa Zeid took her to London. Aliye did not have to power to carry on with her life. To make her busy, her sister gave her some metal plates and metal knives. She began to carve these metals full of love and anger. She incised her reminesences, love and hatred into plates, making her memories to be come alive. She worked only on engraving while she was in London.  She wanted to make the statue of her beloved husband but she couldn't handle mud.  Her professors, who had been dissatisfied with her sculptures were amazed to see her engravings.  They told her to work only on engraving endlessly. She thought there was a special area for everybody in art.  She worked for years never being intimated.

Aliye thought "to be sincere in art would lead to success". There were no schools to teach sincerity, neither in life or in art. One should be sincere in heart.  She tried to accomplish herself studying the art of masters. What she found in them accompanied her creations. She used to say "You are what you are. You cannot change yourself, but you may progress yourself. " She wanted to reflect her life with all the beauties, griefs and deep feelings which surrounded her. What she created was not her children but herself.. She drew the surroundings, buildings in which  she lived, people sleeping in the ships, life in Büyükada, their house, Istanbul, inch by inch. And fishermen in Halicarnassus. What she drew were what she lived. She sometimes worked on oilpaintings but mainly on engravings. She made hundreds of etchings. Her main works of art were black and white engravings. She had a great knowledge on technnique. But technique itself was not enough.  There was  some different taste in all she drew. Not one engraving were alike the other. For her, white and black were tones which were rich enough like other tones for her.  She tried to use materials which were not tried before in engraving art before.   And she wanted to take advantage of the texture of these materials. She painted on butchers' paper, muslims and all kinds of paper .

She always said that "something different is hidden in the eyes of an engraving artist.  It is the hapinness of an hard and tiresome work. and a restless soul.

What influenced Aliye Berger was her own life rather than other artists.  She learned very much from other painters. She loved Gustav Klimt,  Munch, Ensor, Goya and especially the engravings of Rembrandt.  What influenced her was love and her own living. Even death couldn't kill her love and whatever she created she has created with the flame of a great love.


Füreya also belongs to the Sakir Pasha Family and Aliye is the aunt of Füreya.  She is born in 1910 in Istanbul and the daughter of Hakkiye and Emin Koral.

Graduated from Notre Dame de Sion in 1927 and then attended the Department of Philosophy in İstanbul University. She   worked as a music critique in Vatan Daily, and then, went to Switzerland and worked on creamics during 1949-1954.  She had  worked with famous ceramic artist  Serre in Paris during 1950- 54 where she learned very much about ceramic art.(3)

Füreya had an very impressive outlook.  Füreya used to envy her aunt’s Aliye’s  beauty and deep blue eyes.  But she was a very beautiful woman with  very impressive   green  eyes and  thick black hair. (4) Besides being beautiful, she was the most clever girl in the Şakir Pasha family.  She lived in depression years of the Ottoman Empire which also affected the Şakir Pasha family. The empire was in deep distress during the years 1914.  Black clouds had surrounded the country. .  Against all the distress they lived in the family,   she completed  her education in Madame Brigotti’s school same as Aliye  and continued her art education in Sanay-i  Nefise, the first art  academy in Turkey. She was very well raised and educated by her family.  She spoke French fluently because it was a must in the family and if a person couldn’t speak a second language, she was equal to be mute.

Because  all the men of the family had joined the war, the house was full of women . And they were great friends with Aliye.(5) She was in good terms with all the members of the family and everybody loved and respected her.

She was a close friend to her father, too.  At the age of  nine,  she could entertain the friends of her father, even the very sophisticated people like  Atatürk.  She  used to play violin to the guests, and Atatürk were very much impressed with the child’s talent, loved to listen to Bach when she played to him.

Füreya had some misfortunate incidents in her family. Her sister Fahrünissa had lost her son at a very young age.  This incident influenced Füreya  very much. She seeked solitude in music and art and she  used to play violin more than ever to forget her sorrow.                                                                                                                                  

Füreya had an very interesting character.  She was full of laughter and joy in her youth.  But after her losing  her child on the birth table, she became an intravert.

Unfortunately, she was only 20 years old at that time.  As time past by, she beceame a silent and  pessimistic  person.  She hardly laughed or spoke.  She used to keep her secrets to herself even  in old age.

Füreya spent most of her life in İstanbul. She moved to Vienna after her sons’ death.  And she also accompanied her ill father.  It was hard to take care of an ill person, but she was a great and a devoted friend to her father, and she took very good care of him till his death.

Füreya’s first husband was a farmer. He was a very handsome and a tall man.   Unlike the men in the family, he was not intellectual or an aristocrat. He was a rich  landowner and a farmer.   She fell madly in love with this blond farmer and married him.  A very rich wedding ceremony took place in the garden of the kiosk in Büyükada. It was hard to share life with her mother in law in a farm house.  It was also a hard life she had to bare in a very simple farm house after a luxurious life shared  in the huge kiosk.  Her husband never gave permission to her  to   work.  It was a hard life to live with an aggresive husband.  They had a misfortunate  marriage and he even slapped her wife and caused her to loose her child.  After this incident she lived a very deep depression and she divorced her husband eventhough she was madly inlove with him.

Her second marriage happened to be a military man, a Pasha , a comrade of Atatürk, Kılıç Ali Pasha. He was  tall and handsome but nearly the same age as her father and had four sons. Ali Pasha’s sons challenged this marriage and did not accept Füreya as their mother,  but only the smalll son, at the age of 12 lived with them  and Füreya brought him up as his her own son.  She taught him music and brought up an intellectual.  Füreya was happy with Kılıç Ali Pasha   and she spent her life with Atatürk and famous portraits of that time. Many prominent people and even the first famous Turkish  woman History Professor,   Afet İnan was among her friends at that time. Atatürk, sometimes asked her to help with the foreign guests. This was a great pleasure with Füreya.

Everything changed with Atatürk’s  death. His death was a great burden on Füreya. To change their life, they moved to İstanbul. Her husband was in a great distress. He did not want to see anybody or to speak to anybody.  He was like in a winter sleep.    Füreya was too young to sit  in a dark and deep  well. (6).   But Füreya  was  moderate   enough  to live with her husband even though it was a hard life .   Her husband had prisoned his soul between four walls and she had  to bare her loneliness.   To her heart felt sensivity, their marriage became a burden.  She tried to save her husband. She tried very hard to keep him away from the  pocker tables.   She did not want to spend her life on card tables. She was sorry to live a wrong marriage.  She had aimed for  different things in life. She wanted to be an art critique and write to daily papers.

As time passed, her husband began to heal, but now  Füreya had a serious illness. At that time her aunt , Fahrünissa , had an atelier where she spent her life,  painting all the time .  Through the mischiefs she had faced, her aunt  had saved herself  by working very hard in her atelier .  Under the heading called as  D Group Painters she had joined many group exhhibitions.

Amidst the marriage problems, her aunt invited Füreya to work on art and  asked her to draw.  Everybody in the family had some ability towards art  Her uncles, Cevat and Şakir Pashas  were good photographers. Why wouldn’t she start working on art ?

In 1945 her aunt Fahrünisa  decided to exhibit her paintings in an apartment.

Füreya and her aunt spent all of their time preparing this happy incident and Füreya had agreat joy in this event.  Unfortunately, Füreya was ill at that time. She  suffered a serious tuberculosis after the exhibition. And  just  at that time they lost all of their property. She decided to move  to  Paris.  She settled in this wonderful city and  she was still il in Paris when she heard the death of Carl Berger and went to Istanbul to see Aliye. Aliye  gave her clay and told her to play with it.  That night, Füreya started to play with  clay. And she enjoyed it very much.  And started reading about ceramics. She worked very hard, day and night endlessly and that was kind of a healing for her .  That was the start of her art life.(7)

She led her first exhibition in Turkey in 1951 in Maya Art Gallery.  The penning of this ceramics exhibition may be named as the start of  Turkish contemporary ceramic art.

At that time Ceramics  Department of Fine Arts Faculty had been established in 1929 and the famous ceramics factory Eczacıbaşı had started producing ceramic coffe cups  in 1942. There were only one student in the ceramics Art  department at that time in the  Fine Arts Academy.  People in Turkey were not aware of the importance of ceramics art  in contemporary art world.   But at least Turkish traditional potters’ clay art was alive.  For example, Togay family living in  Göksu had  carried this tradition upto our day and helped our ceramic artists with the forms.   Hasan Usta from Göksu had helped Füreya with clay  and mud and encouraged her to work when she newly started on creamic art.

Füreya had met clay for the first time  when  she suffered from tuberculosis in the Leyden Senatorium.  While she painted, she also played with clay and were fascinated with the capacities of this material.  After her illnes, she went to Laussanne and started working in an ceramics atelier and in 1949 she   worked  in Paris.  She worked very hard in her atelier and made progress in the ceramics technique. The famous French critique Jacques Lassaigne proposed her to open an exhibition.  And Füreya had her first exhibiton in Paris in M.A.İ in 1959. Her exhibition in Paris was a great success.

The contemporary ceramics knowledge had been discovered in the 19th  century.  The mysteries of the East  ceramics art  had been studied by the artists and they made progresses on the ceramics  art technology. The most important advance in ceramics art was the contribution of French artists and sculpturors. Paul Gaugin had started to work in  Ernest Chaplet’s atelier in   1886.  His work of art  somewhat surprised people at that time. Gaugin had emphasized the importance of  ceramics art not only in his work,  but also in his writings, too.  The ceramic works  of art of Miro which he accomplished in 1941  with Artigas and the Picasso’s work done in Madoura Ateliers in 1946 are recorded as revolutions in ceramics art.”(8) and she admired those artists.

For the famous contemporary Turkish woman ceramic artist Candeğer Furtun, Füreya had a wonderful personality. And she was the first woman leader in Turkish  ceramics art.  The Turkish ceramic association was built in 1980 and Füreya had been chosen as the founder of that institution.  For Füreya the meaning of life was to reproduce art and work endlessly.  She stopped working in 1986 because she did not want to reapeat herself. She put new intrepretations and techniques to her art with each exhibition she realized. Her creations , The Women series were exhibited in 1992. She was a very interesting artist. She always tried new things and enriched her life. In 1993 she acted as a  movie actress in "Shadow Play". She died in 1997. (9)

Ayda Arel wrote about Füreya in the same magazine : According to her article,  Füreya chose ceramic art because she did not want to be under the influence of her  relatives, Aliye Berger  and Fahrünisa El Zeid .  Füreya aimed for big surfaces.  She desperately wanted to work on building walls parallel to architecture.  And she  worked with famous architect Utarit Izgi.  After their  joint venture on  ceramics, this new branch of art  were accepted in Turkey as a noble and distinguished business (10)  Prof. And architect Utarit İzgi when he  wrote about as such :   "Füreya is the leader for the acceptance of ceramics art in architecture. She belives the necessity of an architect and ceramics artist relationship." Four of Izgi's  buildings were illuminated  with her work of art. The walls served  as connecting the exteriors to the interiors.  Ceramics meant to reflect art and philosophy on the walls.   She brought her  glaze from Germany and  clay  from Göksu and worked with Hasan Usta of Göksu.  She worked on many different headings such as :  Hittitite  motives, Mediterranean, fishes, women, birds, and all the beauties of the world.

She loved people and spared great deal time of her friends in her atelier. All the intellectual were her friends , critiques, writers, artists like Mengü Ertel, Candeger Furtun, Mustafa Pilevneli, Melih Cevdet, Yasar Kemal ect.  

She always added something new to her technique. She created non figurative surfaces, melted glass on the ceramics surfaces, added a third  plastic volume on the faces. She realized an exhibition with famous Artigas and it is proved to the society that everyhing could be done with creamics art.  She used creamics in three dimensions. She used objects she found in nature and created creamic objects with what she found. She explained her interpretation, the symbolic value, in  her approach to each subject. She  evaluated the symbolic dimension of the wall,  or  the walls' purpose in the whole  architecture.  She had the joy of creating in each procedure she realized, taking the  ceramics out of the oven, or putting them together,or putting the paint on them  were treatments which gave joy to her. She had the utmost ability to evluate and interprete  the architectural space.  This was due to her intellectual and artistic capacity and well bred education. (11)

She won a Rockefeller scholarship in 1950s and went to USA, Mexico. She worked on foreign ceramics  art culture and examined ceramics art  in the museums.  She tried on high oven  techniques and decided to give up colour because glazing techinque did  not answer positively to this high voltage ovening system.  She used underglazed oxided paints.  She used old Egypt cobalt mixed clay. The necessity to keep this work small in quantity forced her to create jewelry made of ceramics. She glazed copper and brass in her small oven.  She gave up working on jewelry in 1960.

She always looked for new projects.  In 1970 she worked on prototype white porcelain objects with a ceramics firm, Eczacibasi.  She was influenced from folklore during this time. Mainly from objects in Anteb.  And she created many different designs during this time.  And she designed monochrome  plates using yazma motives. (12)

During 1970's, she started working on sculptures with Gürdal Duyar the famous Turkish sculptor.  One reason could be given to her interest in sculpture : Maybe she wanted to esbcape from being a slave to surface work..  During 1980s, she started  to build houses.,  Those were the  houses of her dreams. Sometimes, tress , sometimes children had taken their places  on the walls of these houses. The shadowy faces of the houses and the inner life is barely reflected through those creamic art creations.  She proved to the society that everyhing could be done with creamics art.  She used creamics in three dimensions. She used objects she found in nature and created creamic objects with what she found. She explained her interpretation, the symbolic value, her approach to each subject.

Her screams were heard in her creations during the end of 1980. Figures took place in her designs.  Figures were appaling : Heads half present, eyes avoided, mouth wide open. One could hear  screams  of the  women figures.   Many women sculptures were created by her and took  their places on the shelves. She said these women scluptures reminded her empty people wondering around in Istiklal caddesi in Beyoglu.   Maybe the agony in those wemon figures reflected the agony of the artist.(13)

She used to work with Hasan Usta who made forms for the artist. Füreya, then worked on these forms and s.rlad..   When the father died, his son Rifat Togay used to work for the artist.  He yohurmak the mud and put in the oven. Rifat Togay described the artist as beeing very neat in her work and  and very optimist as a character.   She never had any negative response to the errors made.  She felt sorry when technical problems raised but she never got angry  or broke a heart. Her house and her atelier were in the same place. To work on art was way of living for her.  Her saloon was an atelier.  The house was full of her work and it was a vivid house. The house was important in the artists' life.  It was always full of people. Her relatives who were also famous people of the art and drama world, such as Sirin Devrim a well known Turkish actress.   Her aunt Aliye Berger, his uncle Cevat Sakir, and many young artists. She always listened to music while  she worked.  And worked really hard.  She always accepted him on her table.   She was neat with her dressing. She never used to go out with the dress she worked with. She went to a hair dresser twice a week.

Before she started working, she used to make small skectches.  And then she coloured her sketch.  And as a last step, she enlargened the sketches and it was easy to show which forms and colours would take place on the ceramic work, she never kept the secrets of ceramic arts to herself. She used to say  that an artists should teach whatever she knew to all the others.  Whenever an artist asked for her help she wass always welcome and she could work in her atelier through her guidance. And her atelier served as a school for the young artists. 

She loved to give presents to people around her and cared very much for friendship. She was very good friends with Hasan Usta and Rifat Usta. She cared very much for their family and accepted them as members of her real family. (14)

As Herbert Read says "Ceramic art is the easiest of all because it is primitive. But is the hardest because it is the most abstract among all the plastic art classifications.  And Read described Füreya's art as otantic and beautiful examples of the 20 th century.  The wall panels Füreya completed she completed during 1950 - 1970, also carried the traces of our famous Tile art into life.  The artist  a achieved to add Turkish tile art a new personality.  When one sees her piece of art, one wishes to touch and feel it . All of her creations were full of sincerity and love.  And in her work titled windows she had done in 1980, the windows were open to everybody. (15)

Her divorce from her husband happened because she spared more time to art and if a choice would be made between ceramics art and marriage, her choice were on art because ceramics art was a way of living for her.

She died in 1997 when she was 87.


Fahr  El Nissa Zeid lived irn Amman during 1981 in great wealth and she was very famous at that time.

According to the famous Turkish art critique Kaya Özsezgin, we are introduced with the artists' art in the catalogue which is introduced in the openning of the Erol Kerim Aksoy Vakfi Art Gallery in Istanbul on October 19 th, 2000.   



I met Fahr El nissa Zeid as a result of a happy coincidence, in Amman in 1981,when sbhe was living in magnificent conditions in that city and enjoying the peak of her fame.  Approximately a decade ago, when she had held an exhibition at Katia Granoff's in Paris (1972), the reputed gallery owner had disclosed her impressions of the artist in the printed catalogue, saying she has to be someone who comes from the lands where princes live, and that she has the air of belonging to the shores of Asia rather than to the European coast on the Sea of Marmara  This impression was due to the artistic personality of Zeid, which had assimilated throughly the values of the Eastern World.  This artistic personality reflected in the portraits as well as in the interiors, manifested itself with a sharp turn to abstract compositions, in a manner very much unlike any ordinary turns seen in Western artists in general.   What is more important is that, when compared to similar examples taken from the Western art, we can discern in Zeid the decisive effort to transfer into a visual vision the desire of the Eastern people to open themselves onto a universe of mystical understanding and thinking.  That is why we witness a conceptual discernment that inspires all of those abstract paintings.  Just like the ripples in ever-widening circles created by an object dropped onto the surface of  water, intertwinning pieces of color spreading towards the peripheries of the composition in these abstract  Zeid paintings do not  disrupt their unity, as if they constantly wish to keep on the agenda the main aim of the inner core of the idea.  Transcending the ornamental static-effect which a mosaic-panel might suggest, these abstract paintings reveal the obsession with the desire to understand and grasp  things hidden in the grooves of the human brain.These abstract compositions are the expressions of the artists' world of ideas.  We find in her canvases details similar to the dreams of a reflecting brain experienced by a "thinker" who is contemplating the informations and transformations in nature surrounding him  while he is trying to explain these formations.  However, the fact these details have their roots in ideas does not push to the background the concern for plasticity.  The imagination that might be provoked by reflection through seeing and observing, always keeps alive the effect created by these paintinigs, although the intensity of imagination grows  as it folds upon itself and keeps you away from having such an impression.  It does not proceed in the direction of the  selfishness manifesting in knowledge, on the contrary similar to the interpretations in life which are equal in value to the "wisdom" of the East, it tries to emphasize the belife that  everything is born from "another" shooting, growing and greening by itself.  The conclusion to be drawn from such observations is clear : The abstractness in Fahr el nissa Zeid's art should be evaluated through a phenomenon that gives from to her paintings, one should always keep in mind that there are distinctions between her paintings and the theories of abstraction on which Western painting bases itself, distinction which can be explained nly by her own paintings.

The portraits from Fahr el nissa Zeid's early period can also be interpreted in a similar way,  as  in the examples of the portraits which distinguish themselves with the innocent child-image of Emir Zeid at the very beginning, in other canvasses of the same kind, the artist's approach is one of a painter who takes grneat care to remain outsider the classical tradition of portraiture a quality which adds an extra dimension to Zeid's series of portraits and which is specific to the Eastern image-making.  In them, the human face does not impose any restrictions beyond those that are hiding behind the features and the characteristic wrinkels of the model sitting before the artist.  In there kinds of paintings, the wish to be a visual explorer who seeks af ter discovering ethe inner world overweighs the desire of keeping the model under constant surveillance.  What interests the artist here is the image of the face which has an inner reflection but does not easily lend itseflf.

The exhibition, organised by Erol Kerim Aksoy Foundation six years after the first one, which happens to be the second following the artist's death, to display perhaps the most important of her works, offers us once more the opportunity of seeing the personailty of the artist very colesly, confined within the borders of the country she lived in. This exhibition also seems to beg for new interpretations because of the fact that it coincides with a  time when the details of the lives of the Sakir Pasha family, appear in book form, after being a long forgotten story for such a longthy  time. Yet, beyond all such considerations, this present exhibition although not a retrospective, offers us the possibility of arriving at uch clearer ideas concerning Fahr el nissa Zeid's original personality as a painter as well as her true identity.


(1) Ayse Kulin, Füreya,novel, Remzi Publishing House, 16th edition, 1999, p. 27
(2) Yapi Kredi Bank Cultural Center, Exhibition brochure by  Kazim Taskent Art  Gallery, September 18, 2001, Istanbul
(3) Exhibition Dreaming of its Museum,  exhibition catalogue,Marmara University,   1999, p.99
(4) Ayse Kulin, Füreya, novel, Remzi Kitabevi, 16th edition, 1999., p. 28
(5) Ayse Kulin,Füreya,novel, Remzi Kitabevi, 16th edition, 1999., p. 60
(6) Ayse Kulin, Füreya, novel,Remzi Kitabevi, 16th Edition, 1999, p.186
(7) Ayse Kulin, Füreya, novel,Remzi Kitabevi 16th Edition, 1999, p. 186
(8) Candeger Furtun,  “To Live Life with Joy”,Ceramic Art magazine,article,1998,pp.8-12 1998
(9) Candeger Furtun, “To Live Life with Joy”, Ceramics Art Magazine,article, 1998,pp,89(10)
Ayda Arel, “Füreya from the Ceramic Arts Point of View”,Ceramics Art magazine,article, 1998, p.6  
(11)Utarit Izgi, “Friendship  in the Reminesences” , Ceramics Art Magazine, article1998, pp. 12-13
(12)Utarit İzgi,”Friendship in the Reminesences” , Ceramics Art Magazine, 1998,pp.12-13,
(13) Ayda Arel, “From the Ceramics Art Point of View”,Ceramics Art Magazine, article , 1998, p.6-7    
(14)Rifat Togay, Ceramics Art magazine,1998, pp, 18.- 19
Sakine Çil,Open windows, article, Ceramics Art Magazine, 1998,Sakine Çil, p. 28

(15) Binay Kaya, Bingül Başarır, “Slow and heavy brush traces”, Ceramics Art Magazine, 1998, Sakine Çil, pp. 16-17         
(16) “İbid”, Kaya Özsezgin, Fahr El Nissa Zeid,Erol Kerim Aksoy  Exhibition catalogue,2000, pp.7-9

Note : The exhibition of the  three famous artists is now open in the Yapi Kredi Bank Art Gallery in Beyoglu, Istanbul.

BAHAR sayisi web'dedir.



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