LONDON - Sotheby’s announce that its annual Contemporary Turkish Art Auction in London on Thursday, 7th April, 2011 will this year feature an exceptional collection of paintings by the modern Turkish master, Mubin Orhon. This unique collection comes with impeccable provenance, having been amassed by Daniel Gervis, a French dealer, collector and patron of the arts since the 1960s. These four paintings, never before seen on the market, were purchased directly from the artist by Gervis and have remained in the same collection for almost 50 years. Combined, these four masterworks are estimated to realise in excess of £680,000.
Commenting on the sale of these standout canvases, Elif Bayoglu, Head of Sale and Specialist in Sotheby’s Middle East, India and Turkey Department, said: “The large, Lyrical Abstract Expressionist compositions of Mubin are among the rarest from the artist’s oeuvre and it is a great honour for Sotheby’s to bring these masterworks to the market. Attesting to Gervis’ impeccable taste and eye for quality, the paintings presented for sale are only paralleled in quality with the works in the Collection of Sir Robert and Lady Lisa Sainsbury - his close friends and patrons – which are now housed at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich, England.”
Discussing how he met Mubin Orhon and his reasons for selling this group of works, Daniel Gervis, commented: “In the early 1960s, I went to Impasse du Rouet in the 14th Arrondissement in Paris to meet with another Turkish artist, Fikret Mualla. Many Turkish artists had their studios there and Mubin’s was next to Mualla’s. That is how I first met him. We became friends instantly; he was an intelligent man with a charming personality. In 1962-1963, during my first visits to his studio, I was so excited and impressed that I bought my first paintings from him. I have had the chance to live with these paintings, now offered for sale, for half a century. I see today a growing interest for Mubin’s work, and I think it is important for the reputation and memory of my friend to offer his masterful works to the public.”
Mubin Orhon (1924-1981)
Mubin Orhon is one of the founding fathers of modern art, not only in Turkey but internationally. After completing his Political Sciences degree in Turkey, he planned to move to London but only made it as far as Paris in 1948. Whilst at Université Panthéon-Sorbonne, he began to develop an interest in painting through his friend Selim Turan, who was also living and working in Paris as an artist. Mubin held exhibitions in Europe and around the United States, but most importantly in Paris. During this period, Mubin became friends with a great number of Turkish modern artists, some of whom are represented in the sale, as well as with his international contemporaries like Jean-Michel Atlan and Serge Poliakoff. He was invited to exhibit at Salon des Réalités Nouvelles and Salon de Mai exhibitions regularly and came to be considered one of the leaders of Lyrical Abstract Expressionism. In 1959, he met Sir Robert and Lady Lisa Sainsbury at one of his exhibitions and they became close friends and his most important patrons. Mubin’s works were shown for the first time in Turkey in 1962. Going to Istanbul to do his military service in 1964, Mubin stayed there until 1968 before returning to Paris. He later died in Paris in 1981.
Mubin’s paintings arouse excitement and a sense of tranquility on the viewer. The affects of Eastern Philosophy and Mysticism are inherent in his paintings, bearing witness to his absolute concentration and devotion to create the most powerful compositions with a musical serenity. These four works from the Collection of Daniel Gervis, which date to 1962 and 1963 - extremely important years in Mubin’s career - can be considered the foremost examples of his instinctive understanding of colour and mastery of Lyrical Abstract Expressionism. They can be in a way considered to be the quintessence of his complete oeuvre.
Untitled, oil on canvas, 1963, 130 by 162cm., is an outstanding and extremely rare work from the artist’s Hommage à Delacroix series, which he begun in 1963 after receiving an invitation to exhibit his work at a group show curated by Raoul Jean Moulin in Paris. It included works by artists Asger Jorn and Antonia Saura, among others. This work which is among the most important works by Mubin in the Sainsbury Collection was the starting point of his Hommage à Delacroix Series. Balanced and mesmerizing in tones and composition, the soft curves created by long, controlled brushstrokes evoke a sense of chaos and warmth at the same time. The painting is estimated at £200,000-300,000.
A further 1963 oil on canvas, also entitled Untitled, measuring 150 by 149.5cm., is among the largest canvases by the artist and it is one of the most spectacular paintings by Mubin ever to come to auction and is estimated at £200,000-300,000. The twisting and twirling brushstrokes in contrasting warm and cold tones captivate the viewer in a type of meditation. The effect of light emanating from within the composition is strongest in Mubin’s paintings from this period. The dripping effect which was practiced by Sam Francis and Jackson Pollock are also at their most dramatic.
The intensity of the colours and the use of space are further explored in an additional oil painting, Untitled from 1963, measuring 130 by 162cm. The occasional greens, blacks, purples and dark blues contrast with the oranges, yellows and reds, but never clash or throw the balance of the composition. Despite having a sense of spontaneity, each brushstroke and colour is carefully calculated and planned in terms of what it can add to the harmony and overall intensity of the painting.
The final piece in the collection is Mubin’s 1962 oil on canvas, Untitled, which measures 72 by 99.5cm. and is estimated at £80,000-120,000. There is not an area on the canvas that is not filled with the artist’s layered, sensual brushstrokes. In Daniel Gervis’ words, “Mubin opened a new and personal style from 1960s onwards where he immersed himself body and soul into his works, becoming a true innovator.”.