When I moved to Istanbul in 1969, I had a degree in Art History and Studio Art. One of my first aims was to learn about Turkish art history. Since there was very few books and only a couple art magazines, this proved to be a very difficult task. As I met other artists, I asked questions and attended openings at the few galleries in the city. Gradually, I gained some insight. I learned that only graduates of the Fine Arts Academy (presently Mimar Sinan University) were supported by local galleries with the exception of Macka Sanat. During my investigations I had decided that only students graduating from Bedri Rahmi Eyupoglu’s studio at the Fine Arts Academy were very special. Not only were they well trained craftsmen, but they developed their own way of seeing and painting. Always searching for role models I was particularly interested in discovering women artists from an older generation.
When I was drawn to a particular artist, it was because she had been able to achieve something that I had not. In 1983 at her solo exhibition at UrArt, I discovered Leyla Gamsiz. I wasn’t surprised that she had graduated form Bedri Rahmi’s studio nor that she has won a 1952 grant to study in Paris. I fell in love with the colours she used. Her colours were not just pink or blue or ochre, they were sophisticated, complex combinations with subtle hints of different hues masterly mixed. From her UrArt exhibition, I purchased one of her portraits and decided to try to reproduce her pinks in my own portrait paintings. I cannot say that I was particularly successful.
After several solo exhibitions of my watercolor, oil, and acrylic paintings, I entered a Ph.D program at Mimar Sinan University where I finally learned the history of Turkish painting including Turkish Miniature painting. After finishing my thesis on Conceptual Art, I permanently gave up painting as a male dominated discipline. But, Gamsiz’s small painting hangs in the entrance to my flat and greets me everyday when I return home.
Even though I no longer paint, I return to Gamsiz’s color schemes. For my last solo exhibition, a Community of Lines, at Pi Artworks the colored threads I chose for the needlework shown in the exhibition, still referenced those used by Gamsiz.