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The Artist Who Lit Up the Darkness

Forced to leave Paris in the bleak days of war, Fehyman Duran, Turkey’s first recognised portratist, chose to emphasize beauty and light. The Sakip Sabanci Musum pays tribute with a glowing retrospective.

  • This café is on Büyükada. Feyhaman loved to paint ‘en plein air

he Sakıp Sabancı Museum excels at international blockbuster shows – Picasso, Monet, the Dutch Golden Age. When it turns its attention to Turkey’s own artists, it also does so to brilliant effect. Ten years ago it celebrated the life and times of the pioneering Abidin Dino (1913–93), bringing into focus the literary and political angst of mid-century Istanbul. Now it is the turn of Feyhaman Duran (1886–1970), part of the 1914 Generation, whose careers, in the afterglow of Impressionism, spanned the end of the Ottoman era and the dawn of the Republic.

With the outbreak of war, they were suddenly enemy aliens in their beloved bohemian Paris.The Ottoman capital they returned to was in deepening despair, flooded with refugees from the Balkans and the Caucasus. Young men in their thousands were marching off to war, never to return – the colours of Beşiktaş football club are still dominated by black in their memory. But Feyhaman Duran, orphaned at an early age, chose instead to dwell on the joys of life. “It is difficult to see beauty,” he wrote later, “but those who can are blessed.”

Feyhaman Duran: Between Two Worlds is full of luminous landscapes, still lifes and nudes, but it was his portraits that first earned him recognition. The likeness of the lawyer Celâleddin Arif Bey (left) predates his time 24 CORNUCOPIAistanbul visual and decorative artsin Paris. Painting the daughters of the Egyptian prince Abbas Halim Pasha paid for his passage to France in 1911.

To read the full article, purchase Issue 55

Other Highlights from Cornucopia 55
  • Melting hearts

    An ambitious new work of classical music – based on Howard Blake’s enchanting score for ‘The Snowman’ – has just received its world premiere. This concert is just one of many achievements by Talent Unlimited, a Turkish charity that gives budding young virtuosi a helping hand. Tony Barrell tells the story. Photographs: Monica Fritz

  • Golden globes

    And the award for most versatile, most nourishing and best-loved ingredient goes to… the humble chickpea. Berrin Torolsan explores its history and its limitless talent to entertain us in a multitude of different roles

  • Citizen canine

    A fascinating exhibition at the Istanbul Research Institute that explores a dog’s life in Ottoman Istanbul and the transformation of attitudes as Westernisation takes hold

  • Puppetmaster of Pera

    Yusuf Franko Kusa used brush and pen and position to lampoon and pull the strings of Ottoman high society. Unseen for 60 years, his caricatures are now the subject of a fascinating exhibition in Istanbul, writes K Mehmet Kentel

  • The great defender

    At one time all roads led to Erzurum, a key stop on a great caravan route and a strategic bastion against invasion. Today it is a remote city on Turkey’s Asian frontier with an important history crying out to be discovered. In Part 2 of Cornucopia’s Beauty and the East series, the photographer Brian McKee continues his tour of eastern Anatolia in Erzurum as Scott Redford leads us from Turkic citadel to Mongol minarets.

  • Man, myth and mastic

    It was for centuries the preserve of sultans, extolled by the ancients, sought after in the harem, a staple of palace kitchen and pharmacy. More precious than gold, mastic brought fortune and fame to the island of Chios, today the world’s sole source of this ‘Arabic gum’. Now, thanks to a pioneering initiative, the Turkish shores across the water will be green with mastic groves. Text and photographs by Berrin Torolsan

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