March 24, 2011

L’ammaestratore di Istanbul (The tamer from Istanbul)

L’ammaestratore di Istanbul (The tamer from Instanbul) is a comics on Osman Hamdi, an Ottoman intellectual who lived between the 19th and 20th century - art by Gianluca Costantini & written by Elettra Stamboulis.

Osman was an extraordinary figure; the first painter to portray women in naturalistic ways; founder of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum; discoverer of royal tombs at Sidon (including the one presumably from the time of Alexander the Great) and Nemrut Dagh; the first archaeologist with Eastern origin to join the European Association of Archaeologists and also author of the law to preserve the artistic heritage of his country against the abuse of other countries.

During his later years, he set up the first Academy of Fine Arts in the Ottoman Empire, later to become Mimar Sinan. Nevertheless, his name does not appear in Western art books or cultural history books. We became passionate about his story because we understood this omission as a sign of the return of an “Orientalism” which puts at the heart of the cultural cradle the Eastern as interpreted by the Western and does not leave space to those who from the Eastern have made the culture.

However, it was a journey to discover a still dark world, full of prejudices. The removal of prejudices is one of our concerns; that is why Osman’s story looks so engaging to us. The book is a sort of log which unfolds a path through images and atmospheres in Turkey today, taking into account our limited and biased viewpoint.


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