Bozlu Art Project shall have on display from April 9th to August 31st newly-uncovered drawings of Cihat Burak, one of the most unique and extraordinary figures in Turkish painting. Found in a drawer in the museum-like home of Mengü Ertel, known for his friendships with artists, as well as successful artworks in various fields ranging from graphic design to posters and theatre sets, these drawings also serve as a memorial for these two artists both of whom are no longer in this world, and as an embodiment of the genuine, unselfish and amicable relationships of the time. This exhibition by Esma Ertel and Oğuz Erten seeks to highlight the importance of interdisciplinary relations in painting, literature, music and cinema, and Oğuz Erten is writing the book to accompany the exhibit. The exhibition comprising near eighty artworks of Cihat Burak’s also involves quotes from his short stories and sound installations prepared by Mengü Ertel’s son and founder of BaBa ZuLa Murat Ertel and his wife Esma Ertel. A surprise mini-concert also awaits art lovers on the opening night.
Cihat Burak is a truly one of a kind artist masterfully blending together his skills as an architect, story-writer and painter, giving form with extraordinary observative and imaginative powers in his original drawings and stories to his boundless curiosity regarding history, literature, Ottoman and Istanbul culture – that is for the lands and world he inhabits and for each and everything unfolding around him. In his interview with himself as a monologue he defines his relationship with different disciplines in his own playful style as follows: “… architecture and painting could be considered relatives. I had friends in the painting department as well, and I loved architecture. Now I see architecture as my wife, painting my lover, and literature as my mistress – and, in fact, as a true Ottoman I have yet right to one more, and that may be music, but I’ve never been able to truly exercise that one. What I know about music hasn’t gone further than a certain familiarity, that’s all!..”
Just like his close friend Cihat Burak, Mengü Ertel too is a multi-faceted character refusing to fit into all pre-cast moulds and boundaries, receiving wide-scale acknowledgement for his own unique style in a region home to master calligraphers known for having established their very own traditions, maintaining friendships with artists and writers from different disciplines, and leaving his personal mark on everything he produced from posters to his graphic design work and theatre sets.
The many-year-long friendship and sharing between the two artists comes to life in this exhibit titled “From a Friend’s Drawer” composed of drawings from Mengü Ertel’s collection. In speaking of his father, Murat Ertel describes the art environment and friendships of the period in the following words: “…He was someone who helped people. The list of those who passed through his atelier goes on and on. Mehmet Güleryüz, Yurdaer Altıntaş and the like worked there. For scripts he would go to poets such as Turgut Uyar and Edip Cansever. The final table of the evening would be set up in our house after the tavern. The best thing was that all of these figures would show me their unpublished work. Cihat Burak his drawings, Turgut Uyar and Edip Cansever their poems… Regular people were also part of this environment. There were bunkbeds in the workshop, where the poor would stay. This is the kinds of person he was…”
The drawings that have been brought back to life in this exhibit are but witnesses of that period. Burak’s rich inner world, his dreams and memories, the sounds of galleons, cats’ meows, chats around tavern tables, the laughter and whisperings of two friends all echo in viewers’ ears in their presence.
Curated by Esma Ertel and Oğuz Erten, with sound installations by BaBa ZuLa founder Murat Ertel, “From a Friend’s Drawer” which contains almost eighty drawings by Cihat Burak may be seen at Bozlu Art Project’s Mongeri Building until August 31st.