The retrospective exhibition of Göral Özkan, the first Turkish Cypriot female artist to receive an academic art education abroad, called ‘Little Girl Thinking Big’, was put on display for art lovers at the Art Rooms Gallery in Kyrenia on the evening of July 5th.
Born in Nicosia in 1938, Özkan graduated from Victoria Girls’ High School. At the age of 15, she went to Ankara through a scholarship given by the Republic of Turkey and completed her academic arts education first at İsmet Paşa Girls’ Institute and then at Ankara Technical Teachers’ School for Girls. The artist, who graduated in 1959 and returned to the island, was not only the first Turkish Cypriot woman educator and artist to complete her academic education abroad, but also the first woman inspector in this field after her years of teaching. Özkan is also among the first artists to realise abstract figurative works in the north of the island.
In collaboration with Arkın Creative Arts and Design University (ARUCAD), the opening of the retrospective exhibition, ’Little Girl Thinking Big’ was displayed at Art Rooms Gallery. The opening was attended by Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hasan Taçoy, ARUCAD Founder, Erbil Arkın, ARUCAD Rector, Prof. Dr. Asım Vehbi, Head of ARUCAD Plastic Arts Department Assoc. Dr. Eser Keçeci, Göral Özkan’s granddaughter, academic Göral Erinç Yılmaz and Art Rooms Gallery Director Oya Silbery. The attendees gave speeches about the artist and the published book.
The exhibition, was put together by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Eser Keçeci by bringing together the works that Özkan bequeathed to her family and friends, and a book published with the contributions of ARUCAD was also presented. The book includes Özkan’s biography supported by socio-cultural studies, as well as her life map and works in social and cultural contexts.
Expressing his happiness with the alumni exhibitions of ARUCAD, which will produce its first graduates this year, and the exhibitions of valuable artists such as Göral Özkan, which sheds light on the art history of Cyprus, the Founder of the University, Erbil Arkın, said, “I am proud of ARUCAD, which enables such meaningful events to take place.” .
Prof. Dr. Asım Vehbi: “With the exhibition and the book, Göral Özkan’s art will reach a much wider audience”
Speaking at the opening, ARUCAD Rector Prof. Dr. Asım Vehbi said, “Seven solo exhibitions in seven different venues opened by ARUCAD’s first graduates, the ongoing exhibition “The Sculptor of Passion Rodin – A Selection from the Private Collection of Erbil Arkın” at Antalya and Culture and Art, the photography exhibition of Head of ARUCAD Photography Department, Dr. İsmail Gökçe and being able to present 10 exhibitions to the audience over the same period is extremely exciting and I would like to state that we are aiming to shape the cultural and artistic life of our country and our region with such events. He added, ”It is a great honour for us to support the exhibition of our female artist and the publication of her book. I am sure that this valuable artist’s works and contributions to Turkish Cypriot art history will reach much wider audiences.”
The Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hasan Taçoy expressed his pride in being a student of Göral Özkan and thanked ARUCAD and Arkın Group for their contribution to the realisation of the exhibition.
ARUCAD Plastic Arts Department Head Assoc. Dr. Eser Keçeci also provided information about the artistic life and published biography of Göral Özkan, who is her aunt and defines her as a “lady”.
Göral Özkan: “Artists should find their own unique techniques”
Özkan’s grandson, academic Göral Erinç Yılmaz, conveyed the message that the artist had always desired to convey to young people, saying, “Young artists should always follow artistic developments in the country and abroad. They should evaluate social events according to both the acceptance level of society and their own levels of perception. Each artist has a unique worldview and way of expression. After understanding this, they can develop their own unique techniques and they should work to reflect their own perceptions of society and culture by finding forms of expression.”
Yılmaz ended his speech by thanking everyone who contributed to the creation of the exhibition and book, and to ARUCAD and Art Rooms.