Buyuk Valide Han Revisited

I believe I wrote a long post in the past about drawing at Buyuk Valide Han, so I will skip the details on the history of this place, but I couldn’t help sharing some photos from my last visit here.  It is a great place to explore if you like peaking into what was once a Byzantine chapel and finding a workshop filled with nargiles and oil lamps.

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“Suleymaniye Camii” Mixed Media on Paper

During my last stay in Istanbul, I climbed onto the roof of the Han and did a 4 hour drawing in the sun.  I love this spot because the view can be drawn a million times and never gets old.  It’s wonderful to watch the ferries in Golden Horn, while listening to the grinding from the workshops below, and talking to the ocasional tourist who comes up to enjoy the view.  When my drawing was done, I wandered my usual way back through the Spice Bazaar and across the bridge to Karaköy and then to Beyoğlu.  I had a wicked sunburn, but a good drawing, and an appetite for a summer of art making…
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2 Days, 2 Drawings

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“Across the Golden Horn” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

One of my favorite places to draw in Istanbul, is in karaköy, sitting by the Golden Horn and gazing across the water at Süleymaniye Camii.  I have done countless sketches from this vantage point.  Not only because the view is perfect for drawing, but there are also many comfortable places to sit, sip çay and eat a balık ekmek, a fish sandwich for 5 lira.  During my recent visit to Istanbul I spent 2 afternoons by the water, watching the ferries dock and depart, listening to the gulls and drawing the scene I know so well.
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Rüya

Istanbul, September 2011: I visited an antique book market several times during those sweltering Fall days.  It was a temporary market, set up beneath white tents in a parking lot next to the Pera Müzesi.  A great place to rummage through lose papers, beautiful old Quarans and books illustrating the art of carpet weaving.  I would dig for an hour or so before relaxing  in a plastic chair to have a hot çay, and gaze out over the sprawling city.

I had collected several sheets of lose paper with arabic writing, and a few worn out journals bound together with cardboard covers before finding a magazine dated from the 1920’s.  The cover illustration reminded me of a dream, and I felt compelled by the simple quality of its line and color.  I purchased the piece, having been so transfixed by this image, and after many months of handing he magazine, flipping through its pages and admiring the delicate writing and eloquently drawn cartoons, it struck me to recreate a version of the cover image for my Hüzün Exhibition.

This dream-like image seemed to fit perfectly into my concept, as it reminded me of that surreal Istanbul feeling I was trying so desperately to capture.  The tittle came to me before I began, Rüya….Dream.  Below is the original drawing by the unknown artist, and the evolution of my version.

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"Ruya" Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

“Ruya” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

 

Little Paintings

I made these little panels when I lived in Istanbul.  My intention was to paint as many  tiny images as I could and someday hang them in an exhibition.  However, I was spending so much time out in the city drawing from life that I almost completely neglected my studio work, and the only oil painting I completed was the “White Pigeon”. So I took back the the US this single oil painting, a few blank and half worked panels, and many travel drawings and sketch books.

When I began working in my studio again, I decided to complete some of the little panels, and worked on them occasionally in between my larger works.  They were intimate and satisfying to focus on.  So different from the larger and somewhat intimidating pieces.  I completed 6 for the Hüzün exhibition, and when I stood back to look at them hanging on the gallery wall, I realized that they looked like little icons, which linked them back to my influence and interest in early Christian art.  This gave them more significance than I had planned, and I was pleased to see other people drawn to them as well.

Since the show I have made 30 more small panels. They are of varying sizes, but do not exceed 7″ in either direction.  I intend to take some of them on upcoming travels, and leave some in my studio for future response works.  Someday, if I can pull myself away from my travel drawings and larger paintings long enough, I will fill a gallery with hundreds of these delicate little paintings, as was the original plan……..

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“White Pigeon” Oil on Panel 5″x7″

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“Bitmiş” Oil on Panel 5″x5″

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“Self Portrait with Language” Oil and Found Paper on Panel 7″x5″

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“Lessons 4″ Oil on Panel 7″x5”

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“Fortune 1″ Oil and Turkish Coffee on Panel 5″x5”

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“Fortune 2″ Oil and Turkish Coffee on Panel 5″x5”

 

The Exhibition

Almost two years of work, many long studio nights, and a few tears resulted in my first solo exhibition at the Corridor Gallery.  It is was an incredible feeling to see everything from my sketchbook pages to my large studio paintings occupying one space and cumulating in a statement about my life in Istanbul.  I’m happy for the opportunity to share this part of my life with the world, in the way that I know best.  Thank you friends and family for the support and encouragement!  You can read a review of the show, as well as a few controversial comments (but what’s art without a little controversy) here, please enjoy!

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Portraits

A few portraits from my exhibition, that to me capture the very essence of my concept, the complexity of Hüzün.

A street vendor, selling roasted chestnuts on the streets of Beyoğlu, shielding his cart from the pelting rain, and a the Han worker, pausing in the doorway of his workshop, with soot blackened hands and clothing……..

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“Beyoğlu” Oil on Panel, 45″x30″

"The Han Worker" Oil on Panel, 32"x24"

“The Han Worker” Oil on Panel, 32″x24″