Monday, February 19, 2007

people sketches 1 - yavuz tanyeli, the artist, part I

yavuz tanyeli is my oldest friend, almost from the times we could not hold our peepee. we grew up together. in my book, "growing up" reads as collecting experiments, so when and if the time and opportunity arrive, one can dive into any experience one wills. we played together, we fought together, we formed opinions together -not necessarily the same opinions, of course-, we chased girls together, we stole my father's car and went joyriding together... we even harassed homosexuals together, during the insecure years of our early teens, and almost as divine reprise for our bigotry, we got mauled by fascists together at the end of our teen ages.

when we were kids, we used to go into greengroceries and while i stalled the shopkeeper, yavuz, using the tip of his house keys, would carve the faces of political personalities on water melons. when we left, you'd see about a hundred green suleyman demirels (who was then just warming up as would-be prime minister) and ismet inönüs (atatürk's comrade-at-arms, the co-founder and second president of the republic who, during the heyday of nazism, declared himself the national chief and who at those times, was serving his final months in any public office as pm - he died as an "ordinary" member of parliament) with green smiles.

i finished the ankara college a couple years earlier than yavuz. i went on to the mekteb-i mülkiye (faculty of political sciences) to study international relations and politics, yavuz finally made it to the sanayi-i nefise mektebi (the istanbul academy of fine arts). i became a journalist (wow, this must be the confession hour) and yavuz started off as an illustrator at the bab-ı ali (the sublime porte, actually, the slope that led to the sublime porte on which during the terminal period of the empire, the sadrazam's office, or the prime ministry was located - naturally the power hooked turkish press/media flourished on that road).

in those years, you were lucky to get back home alive, provided you could reach your place of business in the morning. an average of six people were being murdered daily on what passed as a patriotic war between the nationalists (who aped the nazis) and the revolutionaries (who aped them, pretending they were aping che or lenin' s russians). after escaping three lynching attempts, i decided i'd better switch to the academe where at least i had the chance to know why if anybody would kill me. i was beginning to affect (extra) personality deficiencies because people wanted to kill me not because of who i was, not even because of what i had done but just because i happened to be working in an institution that displeased them - regardless of the inherent silliness of that instituiton!

yavuz launched on his career as a professional painter and sculptor, initially spilling on canvas the plight and struggle of the working man, moving slightly toward abstract concepts and designs (which, incidentally, i hate) but eventually finding himself a course, one meandering through forms and colors which he learnt to combine in a unique manner. yavuz's maternal uncle, the late orhan peker, was a famous painter, too, and he was not only an influence but also a teacher to him. i am definitely not an expert, but yavuz's artistic maturation was the mathematical function of a process during which his political(*) weltanschauung crystallized and through the consolidation of ideas, his color sense that peker taught him to perfect developed into a typical methodology of defining form. yavuz developed a unique style to himself that, if there had been enough talent around to understand what he was doing and saying, could have developed into a school which, for once, would have originated in turkey or the orient.

now i can say what i intended to say from the beginning: yavuz tanyeli is the only modern painter in turkey who is of universal value and deserves to be called an artist.

p.s.: yavuz has a web site where he displays his work but his pictures require viewing to appreciate at all. still, a glance is a glance:

(*) not in the general usage of the word but in its original sense derivimng from the word "polis", i.e., pertaining to the modern, social animal.

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