Painter Sabiha Rüştü Bozcalı

Salt Galata

December 22, 2015 – March 6, 2016

Sabiha Bozcalı, self-portrait Sabiha Bozcalı’nın otoportresi
Tlabar Ailesi’nin izniyle
Sabiha Bozcalı, self-portrait
Courtesy Tlabar Family

SALT Galata, Floor -1

In 2014, a collection of Sabiha Rüştü Bozcalı’s (1904-1998) works and documents was introduced and later donated to SALT Research. The contents of this archive exposed the compelling life of painter Bozcalı and suggested her importance as a key figure in the cultural history of Turkey. Previously little known, the complex artistic career of Bozcalı, who grew up as the Ottoman Empire came to a close and the Republic of Turkey was born, will be explored for the first time through an exhibition of drawings, paintings, photographs, letters, postcards and the various publications she contributed to.

Bozcalı was born into a privileged diplomatic family; her father was an Admiral and her two grandfathers served as the Minister of the Interior and Minister of the Navy. She began painting at the age of five with her mother’s encouragement and was first tutored by Ali Sami Boyar, a painter and museum director. At the tender age of 15 Bozcalı went to study abroad, in Berlin, Munich, Paris and Rome, working in the studios of prominent painters such as Lovis Corinth, Moritz Heymann, Karl Caspar, Paul Signac and Giorgio de Chirico. She also attended the studio of Namık İsmail at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul between 1928-1929. Described by the Neo-Impressionist artist Paul Signac as someone who was “talented, having sensibility that painting requires, and entirely dedicated […] to difficult working conditions of this profession,” Bozcalı painted landscapes and still lifes, yet her portraits aroused the most serious interest.

Between 1938-1943, during the early years of the Republic, Bozcalı took part in the government program “Yurt Gezileri” [Trips to Homeland], organized by Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi [People’s Republican Party] and Halkevleri [People’s Centers]. The aim of this program was to document the process of modernization and the creation and implementation of a new cultural identity across Turkey. In this scheme Bozcalı was officially sent to Zonguldak in 1939 to paint aspects of industrial development. She contributed to the transformation of visual language of the period in advertising and publishing with her drawings for important institutions such as Yapı Kredi Bank and the İnhisarlar İdaresi [Directorate of Monopolies] that changed its name to TEKEL in 1946. After 1953, Bozcalı started to work as a newspaper illustrator for various dailies including Milliyet, Yeni Sabah, Hergün, Havadis, Cumhuriyet and Tercüman. Alongside her role as one of the principle illustrators of historian Reşad Ekrem Koçu’s İstanbul Ansiklopedisi [Istanbul Encyclopedia], her drawings also appeared in books by writers such as Nezihe Araz, Cahit Uçuk and Refii Cevad Ulunay.

Highlighting the diversity of Bozcalı’s professional production through the social changes that occurred during her time life, the exhibition includes documents, photographs and drawings from the artist’s archive at SALT Research as well as documents from the Sabiha Bozcalı section of Taha Toros Archive kept by Istanbul Şehir University, and watercolor and oil paintings from the family collection.

This exhibition is realized with the support of Global Investment Holdings, Istanbul.

Global Investment Holding