Friday, April 4, 2014

Istanbul: art and music and memories

A few years back, my daughter and I were sitting on the beach in Dahab, on the Red Sea, and hearing some very haunting music. That music was B-Tribe, and for me, it's synonymous with Dahab, with sitting under shade at a waterside cafe, eating Fuul Mesdames, playing backgammon with the Bedouin girls. Flamenco meets New Age and some electronica... not from the desert, not from Sinai, but very much linked in my mind with the two.

In Istanbul, I was wandering the streets last Thursday, doing my own walkabout thing, my way of getting to know a place; meeting strangers, haggling in the market, seeing the backstreets as well as the tourist attractions (which in Istanbul's case are not to be missed: Hagia Sofia is incredible, the Blue Mosque beautiful, the Suleieman mosque totally tranquil). I was about to return to the hotel, or to find a boat across the Bosphorus and back, but something pulled me up a steep, steep street, up towards Hagia Sophia. (The top of the street is where Bored Security Guy sits at night, playing with the alley cats. The bottom is close to the tram line that circles around the peninsula.)

Artist Ilhami Atalay's gallery in Istanbul, Turkey
Artist Ilhami Atalay
On my left, a cafe, tables stepped up the street. On my right, another cafe... with some very interesting graffiti running behind, and above, and around, the tables. "Don't be afraid of the art", "Don't be afraid of your mind": quotes from Polish photographer, Maciej-Meru Adamczewski. The quote is right. Never, ever, be afraid of art. And this street is full of it. Everywhere.

Artist Ilhami Atalay's gallery in Istanbul, Turkey

More exhuberant and vocal and colourful graffiti-art, even over a street sign, which becomes a part of the picture. More signs pointing to an exhibition. More art. More walls. Again, don't be scared, you will like!

And like I did. It's the home of artist Ilhami Atalay. A wonderful treasure-trove of artwork-in-progress, major canvases, paintings to buy. Stacks of them.

Artist Ilhami Atalay's gallery in Istanbul, Turkey

If I lived in Istanbul, my home would be full of his paintings. I love the colours. I love the energy and the life and the heart and soul. I had to run away before I spent this year's mortgage on a load of artwork. (That's not to say the pictures are really expensive: for this calibre of art, they are affordable. I just wanted lots!)

That red and yellow and turquoise canvas? It would be perfect in my living room. Maybe I need to go back to Istanbul... soon.

Artist Ilhami Atalay's gallery in Istanbul, Turkey

And why did I start this post with the music from Dahab? Because... if you go to Ilhami Atalay's website, the music that plays is Turkish and New Age and electro. It's the music of Can Atilla. And his music will now, for me, be synonymous with Istanbul.

Go look, go listen. Don't be scared: you will like!

More pictures from Toon's Tunes visit to Ilhami Atalay's gallery, click here.

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