Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Pera Museum Hosts "Bare, Naked, Nude: A Story of Modernization in Turkish Painting"

The Pera Museum, a gem of a small private museum in Beyoglu, is hosting an exhibition that is garnering critical acclaim and support (since many feel it is a brave, even provocative show in the face of the conservative government's grappling with the approved parameters of freedom of expression).

"Bare, Naked, Nude: A Story of Modernization in Turkish Painting" might not seem bold, even radical, in the context of European or Asian art over the centuries where drawing from the nude human figure was a key aspect of learning anatomy and creating art.

 But, for this secular, majority Muslim country the exhibition is bold.  Nude artworks, largely painted since the era of Ataturk's transformation of Turkey into a modern, secular, western-looking state, have been largely held in private collections.  There was not a history of painting nudes... men or women... in the Ottoman era or until the early 1920's.  The show catalyzes the gulf between Turkish traditionalism and 'modern' Turkey in interesting ways.  The artists who painted from the nude figure wanted to show that they were artistically able to capture the form and beauty, that they were in step with the Western World.  But conservative culture does not deem public images of the nude body to  be appropriate.

While at the Pera Museum be sure to see the famed 'Tortoise Trainer' by Osman Hamdi Bey, a cornerstone of the permanent collection. It is quite magical.  There is also a rather extraordinary collection of Ottoman-era weights and measures.  And a lovely very classy cafĂ©.

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