The Magician Creator of the Archetypal Istanbul
To admire one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Istanbul, through a bird’s eye is a compelling experience, due to the worldwide famous Turkish artist, Devrim Erbil. He is very popular and respected for his crucial role in the evolution of Modern Turkish painting, known as one of the pioneers of the abstract art in his country, among many other achievements.
I agree the opinion of the well-known British art historian, Herbert Read, who asserted that the process of gestation of an artwork is complex, involving observation, meditation, and finally a technical mastery of the pictorial elements. Some of the major inspiration sources of Erbil’s art are the old Anatolian cultural artifacts (‘’traditions are like genes’’he said once), the Oriental calligraphy (he was Bedri Rahmi’s student) poetry (he is named the poet of painting and defines his art as lyrical abstraction) and Paul Klee.
Maybe the most significant figure in the Modern movement, Klee launched the milestone statement, ‘’art does not render the visible; rather, it makes visible’’and he is still a landmark in our days, especially for the visual artists belonging to the archetypal expressionism movement. Like the Swiss Master in the urban landscapes, Devrim Erbil’s search for the essence of Istanbul, the archetypal Istanbul, is unique through the concatenation of urban structures, so similar to a watch mechanism. The immortal city from his large canvases deliver to the art lovers a deep feeling of plenitude and ecstasy.
The free movement of graphic elements, ideograms of palaces, mosques, trees, fountains, sea, birds, hovels, ships, minarets, bridges etc., where lines, proportions and colours of the monochrome works in yellow, red or blue have the inner rhythm of a musical piece, remember us Kandinsky’s assertion that great works of plastic art are symphonic compositions. The Turkish Master is a major drawer and I know he was fascinated since he was a teenager by the importance of line in Oriental art and by the innocency of a primordial consciousness: ‘’In primitive ages, life and art was within the most beautiful combination’’(fragment from an interview). His complex lines may be vigorous or vaporous, dark or transparent, cloudy or serene, concrete or abstract, shouting or silent, bright or gloomy, but always linked to the deep heart of nature. Erbil’s aerial landscapes and urban labyrinths, executed with a thoroughly mastery and with a sensitive understanding of the roots of tradition, illuminated by a primordial palette, by the nostalgia of the infinite and simplicity, are a huge life effort to depict the timeless Istanbul’s soul and they are a kind of visual fairy tale of a devouring inner city, as enigmatic and atemporal as Giorgio de Chirico’s futurist urban compositions.