Turkey, Europe

Photograph artist Ara Guler's works explained in London

Renowned Guler tried to capture 'subjective part of events and history', says professor

Ahmet Gürhan Kartal   | 24.04.2019
Photograph artist Ara Guler's works explained in London Britain’s Europe Minister Alan Duncan makes a speech during the opening of an exhibition of the works of the late Turkish-Armenian photographer Ara Guler, at London’s art venue the Saatchi Gallery on April 23, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. ( Tayfun Salcı - Anadolu Agency )


Described as one of the best photographers of the world, the late Turkish-Armenian artist Ara Guler’s photographs reflected a “lyric or poetic realism", a panel held in London heard on Wednesday. 

Professor Hasan Bulent Kahraman explained the master’s works in a panel held in Saatchi Gallery, where Guler’s selected works are currently on display.

Kahraman said Guler had waited for hours to capture the moment while taking his photos.

“I do not remember a moment that Ara Guler did not think about photography or talk about art and culture,” Kahraman said.

The panel, titled The Magic of Ara Guler, was attended by many art lovers, as well as Turkey’s Ambassador in London Umit Yalcin.

Kahraman pointed out that Guler described himself as a photojournalist rather than an artist and “the job of a photojournalist is to show how the time flowed rather than to stop it.”

Underlining that Guler took the portrait photos of prominent figures of the 20th century, including Salvador Dali, Marc Chagall, Alfred Hitchcock, Bertrand Russell and Winston Churchill, Kahraman said Guler’s portraits tell human stories.

He described Guler’s photography as “lyric or poetic realism”.

Kahraman said: “I can say that Ara Guler, as a photojournalist, tried to capture the subjective part of events and history.

“He tried to make us an eyewitness to an event that took place in a specific time slice and in a specific location. Beyond all impartiality the photograph presents, he always created his work with poetry, romanticism, melancholy and leucism.”

The panel was held in relation to an exhibition featuring the works of Guler which was opened Tuesday in London.

The Ara Guler Photography Exhibition has been curated by the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey in collaboration with Dogus Group and the Ara Guler Museum Archives and Research Center.

Britain’s Europe Minister Alan Duncan and Turkey’s Yalcin inaugurated the exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, London’s famous art venue.

Following the exhibition in London, Guler's work, hailed by the British Journal of Photography as one of the seven greatest photographers in the world, will be exhibited in Paris, Kyoto, New York, Rome and Mogadishu.

In a booklet distributed at the exhibition, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described Guler as a “great photographer”.

He wrote that “Great minds live on by the masterworks they leave behind.

“Ara Guler was a great photographer who spent his life behind the visor of his camera, through which he rendered the world, life and objects he shot.

“Although he insisted on being called ‘merely a photojournalist’ instead of an ‘artist’, with his great works at hand, he is an artist for us and for the world,” Erdogan said. 

Who is Ara Guler?   

Guler was born in Istanbul in 1928. Throughout his life, he was a significant global representative of Turkey's creative photography.

He worked as a Near East photojournalist for Time Life magazine in 1956, for Paris Match in 1958 and also for the German magazine Stern. Magnum Photos also published Guler's photos globally, and in 1961, he became the first Turkish member of the American Society of Magazine Photographers (ASMP).

In 1962, Guler was awarded with the Master of Leica title in Germany and featured in a special issue of Swiss Camera magazine, one of the world's leading photography publications.

He also photographed the images for Lord Kinross' “Hagia Sophia” book published in 1971 and the cover photo for "Picasso: Métamorphose et Unité" published by Skira Books to celebrate Spanish artist Pablo Picasso's 90th birthday.

His images on art and art history were published by Time Life, Horizon, Newsweek and Skira Publishing House.

Guler's photographs of famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan's buildings were published in a book titled "Sinan: Architect of Suleyman the Magnificent" in France in 1992 by Editions Arthaud and in the U.S. and U.K. by Thames&Hudson Publications.

In 2002, he was awarded with the “Légion d'honneur: Officier des Arts et des Lettres" by the French government, and in 2009, he received "La Médaille de la Ville de Paris" from the Paris Municipality.

Guler was presented the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey Culture and Arts Grand Award in 2005, the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism Culture and Arts Service Award in 2008, the Turkish Grand National Assembly Superior Service Award in 2009, the U.S. Lucie Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 and the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism Culture and Arts Grand Award in 2011.

He passed away on Oct. 17, 2018 at the age of 90.

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