February 7, 2023

At the Ismet Güney Art Centre Nicosia from 04 to 13 January 2022….

By Heidi Trautmann….

A retrospective exhibition is to honour an artist’s life work, to research the conditions the artist has been living in and working under and from there to determine the influence they had and are still having on the artist’s work and finally to bring it to the public eye and knowledge as an entity. It is an enormous work to achieve and will result in a comprehensive catalogue with all the art works and findings. The Eastern Mediterranean University have for some years now made this task their duty to research and archive the arts in North Cyprus which is something we must all be very grateful for.

It was with some nostalgia that I went to Nicosia for the opening of the second show of Osman Keten’s Retrospective Exhibition with the original and first one in Famagusta in October of this year. There was the interview I did with him in 2006 for my art book ‘Art and creativity in North Cyprus, Volume I’ and while my friend Özgül Ezgin, one of the founding members of our art association EMAA, and I drove to Nicosia on the evening of the opening, we automatically came to remember the many events where we all as members of the art association – besides my journalistic activities – had come together in various functions, and often enough as a guest in Osman Keten’s beautiful art studio in the Arabahmet area. It was the very fruitful time after the opening of the border gates between the two halves of the island, a vibrating atmosphere and we all shared the excitement. Osman Keten, the artist and art teacher giving so much to the teaching programme of EMAA, our art association, and open for all art movements, and so I remember the evenings at his studio filled with talks and poetry recitals.

I visited him with tourist groups from Germany for talks about art. I took my own art group to his studio to hear about his working philosophy. My interview of 2006 opens with him saying: “We seem to hate nature, we trample down everything which is beautiful, pure and innocent; we cover our earth with manmade waste, with industrial waste; we tear up everything which is precious and replace it with useless, so-called achievements of high technology. We uproot traditions, holy trees, destroying them on our greedy progress, like swarms of locusts.” That was 2006. Has anything changed? Osman Keten has in his many years as artist shown his deep trouble about humanity through his artwork, his paintings, the decline and loneliness. When in the last years he introduced experimental thoughts into his work, sculpting on canvas with clay, and using common material to materialize and underline his visions, he brought us humans right down to the material which we are made of: SOIL. This new vision of his has touched me deeply, he holds a mirror in front of our eyes.

In the beautiful catalogue we find his work documented by two young art historians, Mine Keten and Derya Ulubatlı with the photographic support of Kadır Kaba, and with an introduction by the Rector of the Eastern Mediterranean University, Prof. Dr. Aykut Hocanın, and a foreword by the artist Zehra Şonya, the EMU Art Coordinator and Exhibition Curator. Zehra Şonya, who has likewise been in the service of art for many years, not only as an artist but as President of our art association and in many other ways.

Our President, HE Ersin Tatar concluded the opening ceremony and invited everyone to enjoy the cocktail and the art works on display.

As long as we don’t have a proper national museum, we are desperately dependent on such art events to honour the life work of artists.

The exhibition is open until 13 January, and visiting hours are as official governmental office hours, see poster; the catalogue of 220 pages is 150 TL..

To see more of Heidie Trautmann pictures please  go to her Facebook page Click here

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