Category Archives: Visual Art

Painting &c.

We the Pears of the Wild Coyote Tree

This is a preliminary report on two recent films:

  • The Wild Pear Tree, by Nuri Bilge Ceylan;
  • We the Coyotes, by Marco La Via and Hanna Ladoul.

The report is preliminary, not because there is going to be another, but because I have seen each film only once, and I may see one of them again. I remember that François Truffaut liked to see films at least twice. I would guess that I read this in The Washington Post, in an appreciation published when Truffaut died; however, he died on October 21, 1984, during the first semester of my sophomore year in Santa Fe, when I would not have been reading the Post. While in college, I did enjoy seeing some films twice, or a second time; Truffaut’s own 400 Coups was an example, a French teacher having shown it to us in high school.

The two films that I am reviewing concern young adults trying to find their own way in the world, in defiance of their elders. We all have to do this. In every generation, some will do it more defiantly than others. Heraclitus can be defiant, he of Ephesus and thus one of the Ionian philosophers, whose spirit I imagine to haunt the Nesin Mathematics Village. A further reason to bring up Heraclitus will be—gold.

Eva Brann, The Logos of Heraclitus, on Marmara Island, July, 2012

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The Tree of Life

My two recent courses at the Nesin Mathematics Village had a common theme. I want to describe the theme here, as simply as I can—I mean, by using as little technical knowledge of mathematics as I can. But I shall talk also about related poetry and philosophy, of T. S. Eliot and R. G. Collingwood respectively.


An elaborate binary tree, with spirals

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36th Istanbul Film Festival, 2017

This is about seeing six films in the Istanbul Film Festival, which began this year (2017) on Wednesday, April 5.

Kazimer Malevich, Suprematist Composition: White on White, 1918 (MoMA)

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Victor Vasarely

Tophane-i Amire
Tophane-i Amire, 2017.03.25

Last week I wrote about the Turkish Impressionist Feyhaman Duran, born in 1886. Now my subject is the Hungarian-French Op Artist born twenty years later as Győző Vásárhelyi. His “Rétrospective en Turquie” is at the Tophane-i Amire Culture and Art Center in an Ottoman cannon foundry.

Vasarely show Continue reading

Feyhaman Duran

Born on the Asian side of Istanbul in Kadıköy in 1886, İbrahim Feyhaman was orphaned nine years later. His father had been a poet and calligrapher. His mother’s dying wish was that Feyhaman attend the Lycée Impérial Ottoman de Galata-Sérai; his maternal grandfather, Duran Çavuş, saw that this happened. Some time after graduation, headmaster Tevfik Fikret had Feyhaman come back to Galatasaray to teach calligraphy.


Garden of Aşiyan, September 10, 2015

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35th Istanbul Film Festival, 2016, part 3

Part 1 | Part 2

Between the composing of parts 1 and 2 of this account came the death of Prince, whose work had inspired Rain the Color of Blue with a Little Red in It. Between the composing of parts 2 and 3 came the release of the four Turkish peace activists, whose imprisonment had given poignancy to The Demons and The Music of Strangers. There is a certain absurdity associated with each event.

Photo of book, Shakyamuni Buddha

Nikkyô Niwano, Shakyamuni Buddha: A Narrative Biography (Tokyo: Kôsei Publishing Co., 1980; fifth printing, 1989)

On the cover, a modern copy by Ryûsen Miyahara, owned by Risshô Kôsei-kai, of The Nirvana of the Buddha, painted in 1086 and owned by temple Kongôbu-ji, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan


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35th Istanbul Film Festival, 2016, part 2

Part 1

Book cover: Deer Hunting With Jesus

The Demons

Philippe Lesage. Canada. French. Fitaş 4, Monday, 16:00

Ayşe was teaching, but I was free to see a movie. The İstiklâl cinemas were twenty minutes by foot from our urban campus, or one subway stop, if you preferred. Our flat was one stop in the other direction. There was a festival cinema in Ortaköy, and another over on the Asian side; but without even considering these (which I have never visited), I had a Canadian, a Mexican, a Polish, and a Turkish film to choose from. I studied them on the festival website, though not too intently. You are not likely to go wrong with any festival film. Moreover, the catalogue synopses do not always provide an accurate sense. I chose the Canadian movie out of interest in this country that is both American and not. It is also where Ayşe and I met. Continue reading

35th Istanbul Film Festival, 2016

I set out here to write about nine movies. I found I had so much to say that I have covered only three movies so far. I hope to write about the rest in later articles.

Photo of books referred to in this article

In the summer of 1994, I was a graduate student at the University of Maryland, and I had lived in the state since 1989. My roommate in a suburban apartment complex was finishing her own degree and moving away. I decided to move across the border into the city of Washington, where I had already become involved in some bicycle activism. I found a congenial vegetarian group house. I would bicycle the nine miles to the College Park campus. But moving to the city raised a moral question: should I really give up my political right to a meaningful vote? Continue reading

Early Tulips

Emirgan Korusu, 2016.03.12

Ayşe was still in Ankara, but I had seen rumors on Twitter that tulips were already blooming in Emirgan Korusu. The bulbs were being dowsed with ice water, lest the flowers be overblown for the Tulip Festival in April. Anyway, I wanted to get away from the crowds of Şişli and Beyoğlu. The morning was mostly sunny. Thus on Saturday, March 12, 2016, I headed out to Emirgan, repeating the trip that we had made the previous April. Continue reading

Art on Büyükada

This is about a weekend in the islands, and contemporary art.

The Fourteenth Istanbul Biennial (September 5 to November 1, 2015) had exhibits or installations all over Istanbul, and several of these were on Büyükada, the Big Island, which is Πρίγκηπος in Greek. The Big Island is the last of the four islands visited by the ferry from the mainland. For easier access, Ayşe and I stayed on the second island, Burgazada, the night of Friday, October 23, 2015. We caught the ferry from there to Büyükada on Saturday morning. We visited all of the venues of the Biennial on the island. Illustrating this article are photographs from some of these venues. Continue reading