In his latest exhibition, pushing the limits of his art once more, he was able to draw the seven-hilled city of İstanbul on a space as small as a pinhole.
His most recent exhibition “Mührü İstanbul 2” (Seal of İstanbul II), which wrapped up in April at the Maslak Çiftkurtlar Plaza Showroom, proved how small an object can be drawn. It is the fruit of artist Kale’s 48-year endeavor. It is where the smallest and maybe the most aesthetic miniatures are exhibited.
Actually, this aestheticism pushes the limits because it reveals the magnificence of a black 10-centimeter insect, a crab’s leg and a black house fly. While wandering the exhibition, we see familiar objects that have been made new with Kale’s artwork.
To be honest, the picture of Hürrem Sultan (née Roxelana) painted on a coffee bean; İstanbul’s Asian and European sides drawn on the wings of an insect brought from the Far East; Arabic letters drawn on a crab’s leg and the Bosporus painted on a spaghetti rod surprise you with their miniscule size. In particular, the silhouette of İstanbul drawn onto an area as small as a pinhole is really excellent. You just can’t help but marvel at the level of intricacy in the tiny images.
It is especially surprising that the paintings, which we can only see via a magnifying glass, are drawn with the naked eye. Just think of it, a mosque, the Bosporus, seagulls and even fish are drawn on a grain of sand that is hardly three millimeters. Another interesting point is that the miniature artist, the owner of the exhibition where 39 micro-works of art and around 30 oil paintings are exhibited, learned the art of miniature drawing without any formal training.
I learned about colors and harmony from Abdulcelil Levni
His life of drawing began at the age of 5, when he would use the many hours he spent at his father’s dry cleaning store to draw. He became interested in creating miniature art in his 20s. Kale said miniature artists of that time did not want to teach him the art so he decided he would teach himself by examining books filled with the works of true masters who had died centuries earlier.
“I was closeted in a room with the books and in that time I learned about the litheness of a brush from Mehmet Siyah Kalem [a miniature artist]; the colors and harmony from Abdulcelil Levni [an Ottoman miniaturist]; and the elegance of the sultans’ portraits from Nakkaş [Muralist] Osman [a head miniaturist in the Ottoman period],” he said.
He quit the traditional art of miniature around 15 years ago. He said he thought that since the mentioned artists already created gorgeous works of miniature art, he should do something else that would make a difference. He then started painting on various objects such as lentil beans, rice beans, pumpkin seeds, coffee beans, toothpicks, pasta, cinnamon, knitting needles and the wings of flies. Upon discovering how finely he could draw, he decided to shift his career in this new direction.
Among the targets of the artist, who at the same time is occupied with jewelry design, is to paint the silhouette of İstanbul on the hair of a horse, the seed of a fig and even on a strand of human hair. He said he has difficulty whenever he tries working on a new object. Pointing at the insect that he brought from the Far East, he said: “It was the first time that I worked on an insect which is that transparent and which bears that much visual quality. Having such a viewpoint is a very unique thing. People who may hate flies, are afraid of insects and are revolted by bugs wander the exhibition and they witness their beauty. And it is nice to witness them gaining a different perspective.”