Fikret Mualla - Painter
A Turkish painter who has gained worldwide recognition
Fikret Mualla Saygı was born in Istanbul in 1903. He was a disable as the result of an accident he had when he was a child. His father's marriage following the death of his mother gave this 15-year old boy a difficult and neurotic character. After receiving education at Saint Joseph French School, he attended Galatasaray High School. Then he was sent to Germany to study engineering before graduating.
He traveled in Germany, Switzerland and Italy and visited many museums in those places. After discovering his artistic ability, Fikret Mualla gained a strong knowledge of design in a very short time. He made successful paintings, fashion drawings and engravings. His designs were accepted by the most famous German magazines. As the result of his father's financial problems, he stayed in Germany, where an Egyptian Prince supported him, until he was twenty-five.
Mualla was treated in hospital for alcohol problems for a short period in 1929.
Later on, he moved to France and lived in the artistic districts of Paris. He
returned to Turkey and began work as a painting teacher in Ayvalık Secondary
School in 1934, but he resigned and went to Istanbul. He designed costumes for
operettas such as Lüküs Hayat, Deli Dolu, Saz Caz and illustrated magazines
and Nazım Hikmet's book "Varan 3".
He left Turkey for Paris in 1939 with his share of his father's inheritance.
He painted approximately 30 pictures of Istanbul for the Turkish pavilion at
the "International New York Fair 1939."
Fikret Mualla lived in France for over 26 years. Due to his long years of financial
difficulties, his severe addiction to alcohol, and his continual phobia of police,
he experienced increasing anxiety. He was sent again to hospital for treatment.
During his two-month stay in hospital, he was under the protection of Dina Vierny,
for whom he painted pictures. His first exhibition in November 1954 was composed
of those paintings.
Fikret Mualla was hospitalized once more at a mental institution following
his second exhibition. After he was discharged, he met Madame Anglés, who was
a regular purchaser of his paintings. She took him under her protection and
put him in a hospital, when he had a stroke in 1962, and took care of him until
he died in 1967. Mualla's body was brought back to Turkey in 1974 under the
initiative of President Fahri Korutürk, whose wife was also an artist.
An exhibition was organized in Ankara in 1976 in his name with 118 of his paintings
donated by friends, relatives and various collectors. Today, most of his works
are in private collections.
Fikret Mualla selected his themes from among the details of Parisian life,
such as cafés, taverns, circuses and the streets. His favorite colors were red,
orange, blue and lilac. Painting was a way of life for Mualla. He produced works
uniting the stylistic features of Expressionism and Fauvism. He translated the
facts of life into colors and form and painted the members of the Bohemian group
among whom he lived. He mostly used gouache technique and worked very fast on
it. However, he was as professional and skilled with oil paintings as he was
with watercolor and gouache. He was not interested in theoretical painting problems,
he kept himself distant from external influences, and he did not join in contemporary
movements. He painted as he felt, subjectively and full of enthusiastic lyricism.
Oturan Adamlar (Sitting Men), 1937 (Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture), Sevişenler (People Making Love), 1952; Masada (On the Table),1953; Nature-Morte, 1954; Sokak (Street), 1955; Kafe (Café), 1955, Marsilya'da Fransız İşçileri bir Kahvede (French Workers at a Café in Marseille); Haliç ve Süleymaniye (The Golden Horn and Süleymaniye Mosque); Paris'te bir Sokak (A Street in Paris); Amerikan Bar (American Bar); Baloncu (Balloon-Seller); Peysaj (Landscape); Balıkçı (Fisherman); Mor Zemin Üstünde Figürler (Figures on Purple Background);
Latest comments about this article
By mordikus 1.2.2008
Excuse-me I wanted to mean a great exhibition in PARIS !!!!!!!
By mordikus 1.2.2008
I really do hope that one day we´ll have a great exhibition about Fikret Mualla.
By pkrajovic 8.2.2005
great article - but I´m puzzled as to why there´s no mention of the upcoming exhibit -
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