Decoding traditions: Devrim Erbil and his fascination with Turkey

Veteran artist Devrim Erbil's retrospective gives us a glimpse into the painter's exhaustive body of work created over six decades.

art and culture Updated: May 07, 2015 20:06 IST
Arundhati Chatterjee
Arundhati Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Devrim Erbil,Devrim Erbil Paintings,Devrim Erbil Exhibition India

From a distance, his canvas resembles an overview of a generic cityscape. It's only when you move closer to the frame that celebrated Turkish painter-academician Devrim Erbil's paintings reveal a detailed aerial view of Istanbul, Turkey, and iconic Turkish monuments.

Paintings at his ongoing exhibition in the city - in association with The Turkish Consulate - showcase a labyrinth of architectural elements such as palaces, mosques, minarets and bridges, along with some of his carpet work and abstract paintings. The artist stresses on the fact that the influence of his native land, Istanbul, is evident in his art. "Istanbul is not an ordinary city. It is mystical, rich in natural beauty and cultural wealth. It is therefore natural that it affects artists deeply," he says.

Istanbul Topkapi'ya Bakis 27 Mart 2015-23, Tuv.Ü z Yagli Boya, 100x150 cm.

Erbil spent his early years in Spain, France and Italy, but his works have championed the cause of keeping his country's traditions alive. "Turkey, in its process of westernisation towards the early last century, had become distanced from its cultural values," says the 78-year-old artist, adding, "I believe that being contemporary, current and new in art does not mean you cut off from the past. On the contrary, understanding tradition well is an important advantage in being original in art. In this sense, when I visited the western countries, I did not just admire their art, but also tried to understand their tradition."

Erbil has made over 3,000 oil paintings alone. He says that his work of over six decades cannot be consolidated into a single exhibition featuring only 25 paintings. "This show will not be sufficient to describe my art. As an artist, art teacher and museum curator, I am a living witness of Turkish art for the past 60 years," says the veteran artist.

From L to R: Istanbul_ Kirmizi Titresim, 15 Nisan 2014-28 Tuv.Ü z.Kar. Tek., 160x120 cm and Istanbul,Izlenim, Mavi,19 Kasim 2012-93,Tu. Ü z. Kar. Tek. 140 x 90 cm.

Having seen winds of change sweep through the international as well as the local art scene, he observes that creativity cannot be dependent on the money art makes. "Art should not only.

Catch it live
Where: Percept Art Gallery, Lower Parel
When: May 8 to 29
Time: 11 am onward.

First Published: May 07, 2015 19:52 IST