FIKRET MUALLA 1903-1967 Turkish
Fikret Muallâ Saygi (1903, Istanbul, Turkey - July 20, 1967, Reillanne, France) is a 20th century avant-garde painter of Turkish descent.
His work reflects influences from Expressionism and Fauvism, with subject matter focusing on Paris street life, social gatherings such as cafés and circuses.
Early life He was born in Istanbul, but lived and worked in Paris, a long time since 1939 as an artist. As his mother desired to have a daughter, she gave him a girl's name "Mualla". Fikret Mualla was very much beloved by his mother. This relationship played an important role in his further life. At his age of 12, he was crippled at his right foot when he kicked hardly to imitate his uncle Hikmet Topuzer, a footballer at Fenerbahçe SK. Not a long time later, he lost his mother to a grippe epidemic. His father made a second marriage with a very young woman, however Fikret Mualla did not accept his stepmother.
Years in Europe After the high school, his father sent him to Zurich, Switzerland to study engineering. Fikret Mualla left Switzerland soon to settle in Berlin, Germany. The childhood accident, leaving Mualla with a bad physical condition, contributed to his erratic personality and mental disorder later in his adult years. He was institutionalized a number of times, from alcohol dependency and extreme paranoia. In 1928, he was hospitalized in Berlin due to delirium. He then went to Paris, to the capital of arts and the center of unlimited freedom for him. However, he was forced to return home since he could not receive any more money from his father.
Return to Turkey In Istanbul, he obtained an attest of normal mental health after a three-day stay in Bakirköy Psychiatric Hospital. Fikret Mualla was appointed teacher for drawing to a high school in Ayvalik. However, he quit this post and moved to Beyoglu neighborhood in Istanbul. He tried his hand a while at writing and drawing. He became friends with soprona Semiha Berksoy, writer Nazim Hikmet and painter Abidin Dino. His first exhibition in 1934 with drawings, watercolor paintings and designs did not find much attention. In 1936, he was hospitalized again for about one year. After his release, he decided to leave Turkey, where he felt he was not understood. Before he went 1939 to Paris again, he made around thirty oil paintings for the Turkish pavilion at the New York World's Fair asked by his close friend Abidin Dino.
Life and work in France His lifetime in Paris passed with alcohol dependency, mental alienation and cognitive dissonance. He fell in love with the female Turkish painter Hale Asaf without being reciprocated. He was put in hospital again for two months, but during this time he never suspended painting. French model Dina Vierny saved him from being deported. In 1954, Fikret Mualla opened his first exhibition in Paris. He became friends with many renowned artists including Pablo Picasso. He later would sell a signed photo of Picasso for one bottle of wine. Following his second exhibition, he was Hospitalized again.
Well-known now as a drinker and mad man, he started to be respected as a painter. During this time, a collector, Madame Angles, took him under her patronage. This enabled him to earn his living by painting and selling his works. However, ill-starred, Fikret Mualla paralyzed in 1962. He moved to Reillanne, a village in southeastern France, as cirrhosis supervened. By May 1967, he was put in a clinic after nervous disorders escalated. In the morning of July 20, Fikret Mualla was found dead in his bed. According to his will, his remains were brought to Turkey and were interred at Karacaahmet Cemetery in Istanbul.
Fikret Muallâ Saygi is considered to be one of the representatives of Turkish arts in the 20th century, along with Abidin Dino.