September 23, 2023

The artist Emin Çizenel created a current image of the Turkish Cyprus Art Scene on 15th June 2023 at the Girne Public Library.

By Heidi Trautmann…..

I would say our internationally recognized artist Emin Çizenel was somehow carrying owls to Athens, or coals to New Castle, when he sat amidst the exclusive circle of teachers and artists, contemporaries and colleagues speaking about the image of the art scene in the Northern part of our island. However, it was an appropriate time to bring to the surface the poor situation of the current local art scene and its development, however, it was for the audience a journey of common memories through the last perhaps 50 years of activities.

It was the time when the first important art galleries opened and artists were able to present themselves with their work. I could see the emotions and memories come to the surface. Galleries such as the Fluxus Gallery or the HP Gallery were most active starting with the 1980s. My first encounter with Emin Çizenel was at his exhibition at the HP Gallery, an impressive exhibition of paintings on felt; there I made my first contact with Turkish Cypriot artists and I remember that Rauf Denktaş was opening the exhibition on that day. Later, there was the very active and productive, conceptual gallery Sidestreets, I remember those times well. And thus, everybody shared their memories with the circle of guests. It was also the time when art was bought and had its collectors, also by the government.

The situation for young artists today is not so very good. Beginning with the art education in schools and local universities, and here Emin Çizenel claimed that it is not up to the standard of other countries. Apart from that, there is practically no platform for them except at governmental venues, and the few art galleries, Arucad Galleries and Rüstem Bookstore are not yet a platform for young artists. I would like to add here, that I have always missed school classes at such art exhibitions.

Another main point in his speech was the lack of art museums in the Northern part of the island for the local artists, for artists of all disciplines; there are some private art collections displayed in buildings in Nicosia but hardly any local artists are represented in there; their work has been for years now in the basements of the Presidency and the Parliament, I have seen them myself there; those works have in the past been brought up to daylight twice for an exhibition, how should the youth ever know what their country’s cultural background is. Tourists are often remarking that they miss such venues, and an art museum should be part of a tourist’s agenda. This matter I have often mentioned in my articles.

Thank you, Emin Çizenel, for putting this matter up on the table for discussion.

In the end, the well-known veteran art teacher Tuncay Çağatay recited for us a poem by Nazim Hikmet, a nice conclusion to the fruitful morning at the Girne Public Library…..and we gathered in the garden to have a group photo taken.

To see more pictures please visit my Facebook page

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