La CityArt

Princess Painter: Fahrelnissa Zeid

There had been some kind of a rush at the Deutsche Bank KuntsHalle in Berlin – Mitte. The walls of the gallery were dominated by black, blue, purple and red. These are the colors of Fahrelnissa Zeid – from the painting Atomic Explosion and Herbal Life.

Fahrelnissa Zeid also visited our lovely city Ankara few years ago. What do you say we look at your life when this gorgeous woman who passed from our city?

How Many Regimes Can One Life Witness?

Fahrunissa Zeid was born in 1901 at the Sakirpasa Mansion in Buyukada, Istanbul. Her family was filled with important people in the history of Turkey. Her father was a state official, soldier, and historian Kabaağaçlızade Mehmet Şakir Pasha: and her mother of Cretan Sare İsmet Hanım… The other children of this family are the Gravourist Aliye Berger and the writer Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı – the Fisherman of Halicarnassus. Zeid was also the aunt of the ceramic artist Füreya Koral… Her childhood coincided with the reign of Abdülhamit II. She witnessed the turbulent years of the Second Constitutional Era.



Princess of the Forbidden Love

Fahrunissa Zeid made her first marriage with Izzet Melih Devrim. From this marriage, she had a son, who later became the theater and the painter Nejat Devrim. As a young painter, she had the opportunity to go to Europe in this period. She is very impressed by the works of Bruegel. The avant-garde art movements of Europe inspired her. Zeid’s marriage to Izzet Melih Devrim ended in 1934. The reason for the separation was her relationship with Emir Zeid, Iraq’s ambassador to Ankara. Shortly after, our painter became the princess of Iraq and started traveling Europe with her husband’s diplomatic duties. She had another son from marriage. Princess painter spent some time in Ankara as a result of her husband’s duties, She was in close contact with the artists of the new Republic in Ankara.

Have you ever looked through a kaleidoscope? Zeid’s paintings are like looking through these strange binoculars.

Fahrelnissa Zeid

Zeid in her studio – photo from Tate

Bright Reflection of a Dark Depression

The first stop for the newly married couple was Berlin. Here, Zeid became one of the most loved names of the high society. She even was invited to an event Hitler to talk about painting. With the advancement of Nazi Germany, Zeids returned to Iraq. In this period, Zeid became depressed as she missed Europe’s art-loving society.

Seeking an escape from her depression, she decided to travel. She went to Paris, Budapest, and Istanbul. Her works with a group of young artists inspired by Atatürk’s revolutions in Istanbul for the D Grubu (D Group) which contained artists working on “Independent Turkish Modernism”.

Fahrelnissa Zeid

Having met the Queen in England, Zeid follows the country’s local festivals on her recommendation. This is the Zeid take on the festivals –  Loch Lomond, 1948

After her husband was appointed to London, Fahrunissa Zeid moved to England. Her name started to be known as Fahrelnissa… She had two studios – one in the UK and one in Paris, and she gathered young artists around with the traces of Byzantine mosaic art and Islamic architecture, her paintigns created an alternative to the abstract painting of the West.

A Sudden Change

If the story continued peacefully like that, it wouldn’t be a fairy tale. In 1958, in the revolution in Iraq, the royal family was killed. Zeid and her husband got lucky because they were on a vacation in Italy at that time. However, after the revolution, her world was completely transformed. She lost all of her privileges and started to live like a mortal. She cooked for the first time after age 50. She even made sculptures with the bones of the chicken that she cooked!

Zeids went to Jordan after a while. She continued painting in Amman and to bring young artists together. In her last days, she made portraits of his relatives.

This article is available in Turkish. Click here to take a look!

Jeyan İdil Aslan
Berlin'de bir Angaralı >< Angara girl in Berlin world

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