The Traces of Islamic Mysticism (Sufism) in Contemporary Turkish Art

By Aygul Aykut.

Published by The Arts Collection


In order to understand the figurative components where beliefs are channeled into visuals, it is necessary to understand the systems of belief and thought of Islamic mysticism (Sufism). The definition of Sufism has been made differently by different mystics. According to one of these definitions, Islamic mysticism Sufism is the path of search by intuition for divine truths and truths related to gayb (domain of the infinite source of truth). The aim is to become the perfect human being (insan-ı kamil). In other words, according to Islamic belief, Islamic mysticism is the path of one to free his/herself from bad habits, cleanse his/her soul and to become mature. Sufism, which is shaped by the understanding of Islamic mysticism, is founded on the idea of universal geometry. In Islamic mysticism, it has been accepted that when we start with numbers, mathematics is the source of all universal laws. The square, which is defined by the number four, is the ideal symbol. Circle, which is seen as the most powerful symbol in the universal unity, defines an infinite composition around a center. Visual components shaped by the philosophy of Islamic mysticism are generally reflected in contemporary Turkish art by geometric and calligraphic styles. The traces of this style are first seen in the art of Şevket Dağın who is one of the pioneers of contemporary Turkish painting. The aim of this research was to analyze the effects of Islamic mysticism on visual components through the work of three famous artists of our time. These artists are Erol Akyavaş, Ergin İnan and Süleyman Saim Tekcan.
As a conclusion, the abstract and symbolic roots of Contemporary Turkish Art were evaluated in the selected examples.

Keywords: Islamic Mysticism, Sufism, Contemporary Turkish Art

Dr. Aygul Aykut

Lecturer, Department of Paintings, Erciyes Univeristy, Kayseri, Kayseri, Turkey

Born in 1967. Graduated in 2000 from Gazi University Fine Arts Faculty. Had phd degree from the same university in 2008. Thesis titled The esthetic education in the Fine Arts Faculties of Turkey. I Attended many exihibitions. Like, in 2006 International Spirng Festival in Makedonia and in 2007 Biblioteca Judeteana in Romenia. Took part in EU Youth Project in 2005 named Art Bridge as the project cordinator. Have been workind as a lecturer since 2005 in the Erciyes University Fine Arts Faculty.

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