On display until the end of summer is a 50-square metre painting paying tribute to the Gezi protests. It was on display on the terrace of the Istanbul Chamber of Architects in Karaköy until the end of June and will be shown in Kadıköy throughout August (watch this space for an update of the location). The colossal work (above) was painted by the artist Haydar Özay, the son of the former head gardener of Gezi Park, Cemal Özay, who has worked there since 1979.
The painting took a year to complete and was unveiled on the first anniversary of the Gezi protests on May 30. It features the people and things that have become the icons of the ‘hottest’ summer of Istanbul’s recent history: those who died, including the children and their mothers, the Beşiktaş football fan group Çarşı, penguins, the ‘woman in red’, one of the members of the Taksim Solidarity Platform Mücella Yapıcı, a yellow canary and a bulldozer chasing riot control vehicles.
It is an impressive and emotional work, and one that deserves our attention.
Özay, who’s a graduate of the Mimar Sinan University Painting Department, said his father was one who inspired him to do the painting.
‘I drew designs and took notes and photographs during the Gezi protests. I painted Yapıcı as a witch who dedicated herself to Istanbul. She has the Haydarpaşa building on her lap. Berkin Elvan is there with his marbles, dog and kite,’ Özay told Hürriyet Daily News back in May.
Paid entirely by volunteers, the artwork has already been seen by many, including the families of Berkin Elvan and Hasan Ferit Gedik, the two young men who lost their lives during the protests. The painting will travel abroad in autumn.
Gezi Park stands untouched by bulldozers today but the question is: for how long? Earlier this month, it was reported that Turkey’s Council of State reversed its previous decision to cancel both Taksim Square’s controversial pedestrianisation project and the Artillery Barracks project that will take over Gezi Park (the reason protesters occupied the park in 2013). So the construction of yet another shopping mall (like we need it), disguised as the barracks, might still go ahead. Will this ignite Gezi protests round 2? We'll have to wait and see...