Saturday, 26 March 2016

Mehmet Sönmez 1944-1998 Bodrum Blue


For many Turks who live in big city apartment blocks, Bodrum is a Shangri-La: a fantasy of blue sea, white-washed sugar cube houses and tumbling magenta bougainvillaea.  Artist Mehmet Sönmez should probably be held responsible for 90% of these fantasies.  He moved to Bodrum in the 1970s and his paintings of the town were turned into postcards which circulated the globe for 2 decades.




Copies of some of his most famous works can be seen in Oasis Shopping Mall until 16th April.  The opening of the exhibition yesterday, was like a flash back to Mehmet's favourite bar, the Hadi Gari, all of us 35 years older (but I have to say everyone still looking good).  Mehmet would have easily recognised us all although no one would have called him Mehmet, he went by his nick-name 'Asker' (soldier).


This vision of Bodrum still exists if you look in the right places but it's rapidly being overwhelmed by insensitive development.


In the last few years of his life Mehmet was not happy with the way Bodrum was developing and produced a series of paintings called "Critical Bodrum" which I haven't been able to find on the internet.  I heard lots of stories last night about how Bodrum was so wonderful 30 years ago, and I feel very privileged to have lived in Bodrum before it expanded but it's worth remembering that in this Utopian past, Dursan's bicycle, shown in the pictures above, was stolen 3 times and recovered before it was nicked for good. Bodrum is still a great place to live and we still need to lock up our bikes.

12 comments:

  1. It must have been a different world 30 years ago - when we could leave our doors unlocked, and a bike leaning besides a wall untethered without chains or padlock. I have noticed on a TV programme 'Escape to the Country' that so many people living it what used to be considered the countryside are wishing to escape to even more rural locations because of new building and road networks. It seems to be an ongoing problems for us all, which is getting worse.

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    1. A yurt in Middle Mongolia might be the last refuge.

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  2. Such beautiful paintings and exactly how I would like to remember Bodrum, I am hopeful. Cok sevgiler, Happy Easter, Ozlem x

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    1. A pretty image to keep while travelling

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  3. Love the picture of the panoramic view from the hills. Not so different from the view today. Just don't look behind you :-D

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  4. B to B, Beautiful paintings, a vision of peaceful domesticity.

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    1. I wish I could find images of his later Bodrum work

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  5. . . very enticing until reality clicks in! Simple, delightful pictures.

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    1. Who needs reality - you seem to be out running it on your hillside.

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  6. Gosh these pictures bring back lots of memories....and in our heads we still see Bodrum as it was 30 years ago. The sheep being washed in the harbour, the seafront bakery, the Heredot, the Gemibashi.... Bodrum, Gumbet, Bitez all being very separate little 'villages'....

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