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Fikret Mualla Saygı

Fikret Mualla Saygı

Turkish painter who lived between 1903 and 1967. Due to his turbulent and bohemian lifestyle, not only his art but also his life has passed into the history of painting as a mythology.
Fikret Mualla was born in 1903 in the Moda district of Istanbul. His father was Ekrem Bey (Mehmet Ekrem Mualla Saygı) and his mother was Emine Nevber Hanım. Since they were expecting a girl, they had determined the name Mualla beforehand. When the baby was a boy, the name Fikret was added. He spent his childhood and youth around Kadıköy, Bahariye. He studied at Saint Joseph and Galatasaray high schools. It is rumored that the reason why he was assigned to Galatasaray High School as a boarder was his passion for football, which prevented him from studying. He was very fond of football under the influence of his uncle, Hikmet Topuzer. At the age of 12, while playing football at Galatasaray High School, he suffered a major concussion when he broke his right foot and remained lame in an accident. The loss of his mother, whom he was very fond of, was the second event that left deep traces on him. Fikret Mualla's life was filled with guilt after his mother died at a young age, who caught the Spanish flu as a result of carrying the flu from school to home. His father's remarriage with a very young man, right after his mother's death, also affected him greatly. Then, his father's marriage to Behice Hanım, a relative he thought his son would not react to instead of this young lady, caused a similar angry reaction in his son. The concussions he experienced made Fikret Mualla an angry and misfit person. Fikret Mualla, who could not accept his father's marriage, left his education at Galatasaray High School when he was 17 and was sent to Switzerland to study engineering. He interpreted this as being kicked out of the house.
Over time in Switzerland, he realized that painting interested him more than engineering. During his student years in Switzerland, which coincided with the war years, he was left without money. Thanks to the support of the consul of the period (Rıza Bey), he went to Germany to study painting. He studied poster and designer at the Munich Fine Arts Academy, and then painting at the Berlin Fine Arts Academy. He became a student of Arthur Kampf with Hale Asaf  at the academy. During his years in Germany, after his father's financial situation deteriorated and he could not send money, he received financial support from Abbas Halim Pasha. Fikret Mualla, who was lonely in Germany due to his lameness and shyness, was drinking when he was not painting. He had to be treated for the first time in Germany in 1928 due to alcohol addiction. After her treatment, she toured art centers in Italy and France.
When Fikret Mualla returned to Turkey in 1937, as he suffered from financial difficulties when money from home was cut off, he gave painting lessons for a short period at Galatasaray High School and Ayvalık Secondary School. He left his job at Ayvalık Secondary School due to the low salary of Galatasaray High School and due to the lack of electricity in Ayvalık at that time, and returned to Istanbul. He did not find the interest he hoped for in Istanbul art circles, and his works were humiliated. He directed his attention to literature for a while. He wrote a book about Schiller which he found similarities with. His book named Şiller (Schiller) 1759-1805, His Life and Works was published in 1932. His short stories called "Usera Headquarters" and "Tale", published in the journal Ses in 1938, are also the work of his literary side.
During this period, Mualla made a living by drawing stage costumes and illustrating books. With the effect of his interest in the soprano of the Istanbul City Theater Semiha Berksoy, she settled in the Beyoğlu district. He drew the costumes of operettas such as Lüküs Hayat, Deli Dolu and Saz Jazz staged at the Istanbul City Theatre.

Fikret Mualla's Turbulent Life

During the Istanbul period, art lover Salah Cimcoz allocated him a comfortable place to work in his mansion in Moda. In this house, he was giving painting lessons to the three children of Cimcoz (one of them was Emel, who would be the wife of President Fahri Korutürk in the future). However, as a result of an argument with Salah Cimcoz while he was drinking, Fikret Mualla was interrogated and investigated for his words. Thus began his fear of the police, who would not leave him for the rest of his life. After this incident (1936), he was treated at Bakırköy Psychiatric and Neurological Diseases Hospital for one and a half years. He was under the control of the famous doctor Mazhar Osman in the hospital, and he shared the same room with Neyzen Tevfik.
When Fikret Mualla lost his father in 1938, he became the owner of a heavy legacy. He decided to settle in Paris by selling his assets. Before he left, at Abidin Dino's request, he painted about 30 paintings on the subject of Istanbul for the Turkish Pavilion of the 1939 International New York. In the same year, a lawsuit was filed against him when some of the drawings he drew for Ses magazine were found obscene; After being acquitted, Mualla went to France, where he lived for 26 years.
When he went to France, the expressionism movement, which was represented by painters such as Edvard Munch and Wassily Kandinsky, was on the agenda, and the painter was also influenced by this understanding. Fikret Mualla, who lived a fun and luxurious life in Paris for a short time, With the start of World War II and the occupation of the country, it entered a difficult period. Fikret Mualla was trying to overcome his troubles by painting and drinking.
Mualla opened her first exhibition at Dina Vierny Gallery in Paris in 1954. Until that day, those who wanted to buy his paintings would find him in Paris cafes and usually sell his works cheaply. The first exhibition was organized by two painting dealers. All the paintings of Mualla, whose works attracted great attention, were sold in the exhibition. Painting dealers defrauded Mualla by not giving the share they promised, but this exhibition introduced the artist to the art circles in Paris in a magnificent way, and made him known as a Paris painter. He met many great artists, and he caught Picasso's attention. He opened his second exhibition two years later and was admitted to a mental hospital after the exhibition. In the same period, he met Madam Angles, who was a regular buyer of his paintings.
Mualla focused on the city of Paris in her paintings. He gradually gained a reputation in the Parisian environment. His works had begun to be collected by collectors, but he could not establish a regular life for himself. The artist, who had a stroke in 1962, was taken care of by an art lover named Madame Fernande Agnes, whose husband was a senator for the Alps region. In May 1967, he was admitted to a rest home due to nervous breakdowns. He was found dead on 20 July. He was buried in the Mane Cemetery in Reillane.
His funeral was brought to his home in accordance with his wishes in 1974. Fikret Mualla painted to be happy and forget everything. For this reason, he was not influenced by various movements in the art world, he used his intuition while painting and created his own style. He conveyed his own feelings to his works. He made pictures full of enthusiasm. He did not reflect his moody, uncompromising personality and unhappy life in his paintings, he made pictures full of joy of life.
He usually made his paintings with gouache on colored background papers. He frequently used watercolor and pastel materials in his paintings. It is known that Fikret Mualla, who took some time to be known in the Paris art scene, praised the works of Picasso, even bought a picture of him, gave him one of his own works as a gift, and Fikret Muala sold the painting given by Picasso for a raki money.

Fikret Mualla Famous Paintings

Among the main works of Fikret Mualla; Sitting Men, Cafe, French Workers in a Cafe in Marseille, Golden Horn and Süleymaniye, A Street in Paris, Ballooner and Fisherman can be counted.

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