Fikret Mualla was born in Istanbul in 1903, the son of an aristocratic family. Everything was good until he suffered an accident when he was twelve years old. An injury to his leg would leave him with a limp for the rest of his life, greatly affecting him. After a while his mother passed away as well. These events gave him deep sorrow.
After his mother’s death his father married to a younger woman. Because of all the changes in his life, he became angry and unbalanced. At the age of seventeen, he was sent to Switzerland to study engineering. He felt as though he was kicked out of the house.
While in Switzerland, he realized that he was interested in art, and after a while he went to Germany to study painting. He was shy and lonely in Germany. When he didn’t paint, he was drinking alcohol. In 1928, he was hospitalized for the first time for his alcoholism.
In 1928 he went back to Turkey. He gave art lessons, but couldn’t find attention in Istanbul. He began to give lectures and wrote books. At the same time he was drawing stage costumes and drawing illustrations for books, in addition to painting.
In 1934 he had his first reception in Istanbul, which went mostly unnoticed.
His father passed away in 1938. Fikret Mualla recceived an inheritance and decided to move to Paris, where he would spend the rest of his life.
During a 1954 reception in Paris, he sold his all paintings and finally began to gain people’s attention. As he became better connected with the artists of Paris, he gained respect and fame.
But he still suffered from mental illness, and had to be committed to asylums several times. He painted to forget about his troubles and to be happy. That’s why he was not affected by other painting styles. He used his feelings. He made his own style, and focused on painting cities, Istanbul, Paris, people, streets, cafes and fishermen.
It was rumored that Picasso bought one of his paintings in exchange for one of Mualla's. Fikret Mualla the reprotedly sold it for a bottle of raki, the national drink of Turkey.
After his death Turkish government bought his paintings and exhibited in Ankara.
His life story has had a profound effect on me and the way I look at painting. I feel that the kind of adversity Mualla experienced fueled his creativity, and while his life was tragic, it resulted in a beautiful body of work.
Here are some of his paintings that I really enjoy;