Rodin on the France-TRNC-Turkey axis! Antalya is hosting a very significant collection…
Rodin in Antalya, Esteemed Collector Erbil Arkın in Antalya
Before sharing the artist’s own interpretations of the works of the esteemed artist Efe Symbol in my previous article, right after I said “an artist’s interpretation should be included” in every business environment, wherever money is strong… A collector who brings together art lovers from Antalya with Rodin with his passion. It is very meaningful to know Erbil Arkın, an important business person.
“The idea of making a collection, especially by placing a “passion trigger” (this could be a work of art, or some object) in the centre and attaining them, almost making a strategic plan for the future because they are unable to attain them, is a talent in itself.”
Prior to Rodin’s collection going on display at Antalya Culture and Art (AKS), during the talk moderated by esteemed art historian Ebru Nalan Sülün, we observed the sincere joy of Mr. Arkın while humbly talking about his collection,. The message is quite clear; to want, to plan, to provide the necessary resources…but the common denominator is “to love a lot”. Erbil, the businessman, defines his passion as a kind of communication with Rodin…so that “my soul speaks with him”.
Based on the life of a sculptor like Rodin, who left his mark on a historical period, who made each of his works in different sizes, on different scales, and who applied variations to them, and we see, based on the Rodin Museum posts, We learn that one year before his death he left his works, collections and property to the state.
In fact, it was this donation that gave birth to the idea of founding a Rodin Museum. The French State bought the Hôtel Biron and transformed it into a museum to be dedicated to the artist. This building opened in Paris in 1919 followed by the opening of the museum in Meudon in 1948. In summary, the Rodin Museum, as stated on its website, has become the custodian of the artist’s moral rights. One point should be added; while the artist bequeathed his goods and works, he also bequeathed the copyright. Thanks to the collection of stencils and the printing of original bronzes the artist’s work has been able to proliferate. It is possible to come across these works in many museums around the world in this way (see link: https://www.musee-rodin.fr/musee/collections/rodin-dans-monde
Mr. Arkın, many interviews have been made with you, and through web searches it is possible to obtain information about you, your businesses and art. For the sake of art lovers can we talk about the collector Erbil Arkın?.Is becoming a collector a decision that is made or does one just actually become a collector with what is accumulated over time? How would you define collecting?
As you said, I have shared my life through story in many channels. I’m not one of those people who was able to found a life with family wealth. My family was not wealthy. They were migrants in London. I grew up and received an education under very difficult conditions. I consider myself lucky because I can say that I had a good childhood despite all the difficult conditions. I began working at an early age. I was studying, on the one hand
and working in various jobs to support my family. I like working and still spend every day with a busy work schedule. I have always aimed for better. Despite all the work I’ve done and all the things I’ve accomplished, I’ve never said, “Okay, enough is enough”. I will continue as long as I can. As a business person, I think I have arrived at a very good point. Arkın Group, of which I am the founder, is growing day by day. I am really happy to provide job opportunities to hundreds of people within the Arkın Group. I believe in luck, but I also wholeheartedly believe that if you want fortune to smile on you, you have to work hard for it. Also, I have always believed that people should have passions and that in order to hold on to life, they should follow these passions with determination. To wish comes first. The beginning of everything is a person’s whole-hearted desire for what one wants to achieve. Going back to my story, which is now quite well-known, I bought books from the library after seeing Rodin’s sculpture, ‘The Kiss’, at the Tate Gallery in London, which fascinated me as a 16-year-old. I started researching Rodin. The more I researched, the more my admiration for him grew, and I formed a very strong spiritual bond with him. Years later, in 2004, I think, I started going back and forth to Robert Bowman’s gallery. We had long conversations with him about life, art and artists. Robert is a prominent Rodin connoisseur and has a highly respected Rodin gallery in London. In those days, I had not yet purchased the work of any artist. As I always told Robert, the work I would buy had to touch my soul first.
In 2005, I bought Rodin’s ‘Head of Lust’. Afterwards, I started to buy works that touched my soul, one by one, whenever I could.
In the discussion at AKS, you summarised your passion for Rodin as,“ I met Rodin at the age of 16, I didn’t know I would be a Rodin collector”. Could this actually have shaped your interest and talent in painting and therefore in the visual and plastic arts?
I believe that there is an urge to create in every human being. This urge can make itself apparent in different areas: The geography and the society you live in, the system, the education you receive, your intelligence and the abilities with which you have shaped your life to a large extent. My interest and ability in painting was noticed by my teachers at primary school and I was sent to private painting courses, and this journey that started there is perhaps one of the most important factors that enabled me to become the person I am today.
The most important point in what you have shared above is not that you have bought the material you collect just for your own sake, but that you can look at the works with the eyes of that artist, which perhaps sets you apart from many collectors. It is most impressive that you seem to be almost a ‘road companion’ to the artist.
Mr. Arkın, are the works in your collection a part of the special reproductions whose copyrights are reserved in the Rodin Museum? Or are they Rodin’s works at different scales?
Rodin was an artist who produced his works in different sizes. My sculptures are directly from Rodin Provenance or certified by museum Rodin. All of these works have been bought with Rodin Museum certificate from world-renowned auctions such as Sotheby’s. As you know, Rodin transferred all his works and rights to the French government. No work may be reproduced outside of their statutes.
In our discussion, we learned that you had not brought your collection together with art lovers before, but that the exhibition in Antalya was a first; How many Rodin works do you have in your collection?
I kept my sculptures for myself for a long time, but I shared them with the Cypriot People on the occasion of the establishment of ARUCAD in 2017. Before and after, my sculptures were exhibited in different countries of the world, although not collectively. I can say that the positive reactions I received after the establishment of our university were effective in opening The Arkın Rodin Collection Gallery. Currently there are 27 works.
Are there works by other artists besides Rodin? What are your criteria for adding works of unknown artists to your collection?
Apart from Rodin, I also own the works of many known artists, one of which stands out for me is Jules Aime Dalou. I think he’s a great sculptor, but his bad luck is that he’s from the same era as Rodin. I am primarily concerned with the ability of each piece I add to my collection to touch my soul. Art speaks to us. To be able to hear them, of course, you need to have a comprehensive underpinning, as well as keeping one’s mind, heart and perceptions open.
It would not be wrong to say in short that the main idea of museums is based on collections, as seen in the history of museology. Will there be an Erbil Arkın Museum for your collection? And if so, will it be in TRNC?
Like others, this process will evolve in its own way. Even though I spent my youth in London, I mostly built my life in Cyprus. I am rooted in the lands I belong to, and I work here as much as I can so that art and culture can develop, and the people of Cyprus can be more intertwined with the beauties they deserve. In this way, it seems that a museum to be opened will be in these lands.
The “Noble Peasant” statue you planned for Kyrenia, inspired by the symbol of Brazil/Rio, the “Christ the Redeemer” statue in Corcovado, will be realised through your determined efforts. What is your roadmap on this issue?
Throughout my life, I have always tried to do better, I have been open to innovations, I have never hesitated to take risks and invest in different areas. I am of the opinion that a person should try to benefit from the conditions they find themselves in and always be forward looking in every subject. The execution of this project, which emerged in 2019, was undertaken by ARUCAD and the young Dutch artist Lotta Blokker won the open competition, in which more than eighty contestants from thirty different countries participated. She is a very talented and bright young artist and was named artist of the year in the Netherlands in 2022.
Mr. Arkın, there is the saying, ‘“to have ‘crowned’ one’s achievements”. (Arkın Creative Arts and Design University (ARUCAD), (an art-oriented thematic university that combines art, design and communication fields, established in 2017, see link: https://arucad.edu.tr)
In my opinion, it can be defined as the “crowning” project of your artistic works. In our discussion, we witnessed the hope and determination in your eyes when you said, “Why can’t the Rodins of tomorrow be trained here, at this university, whichhas international equivalences between the universities. What would you suggest to a young artist candidate, if we asked you for a motto for young art students?
“We already have a motto that we use for our university: “Art and Civilisation are One”.
Yes, I am a person who dreams and chooses to follow his passions. While establishing our university, I dreamed of it as an investment in laying the foundations of a contemporary society intertwined with art. I truly believe that from a small island like ours, many talented, international artists can grow. I was very excited by the idea of creating an environment for them. I believe in young people, I believe their energy will make this world a better place.
“The most important thing I can tell them is to follow their dreams. Their passion will guide them.”
Dear Mr. Arkın, thank you very much for this valuable interview, it is a great honour that you share your valuable work with us and I wish you success in all your activities. Many thanks to Art Rooms representative Oya Silbery, ATSO (Antalya Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and AKS (Antalya Culture and Arts) officials Davut Çetin and Münevver Eminoğlu, all of whom helped us get to know you through the works of Rodin.
Great fortune for Antalya!
Twenty two Rodin works specially selected from the Erbil Arkın Collection, were well-received by art lovers from Antalya, and are on display at AKS until July 31, 2022. A small clue; As soon as you enter the exhibition area, as Mr. Arkın stated; Rodin sculptures seem to be talking to you.
The discussion took place in AKS before the opening on 18.05. 2022.
Moderator: Akdeniz University GSF, Art Management – Assoc. Prof. Dr.Ebru Nalan Sülün, Guests: Erbil Arkın, exhibition curator; Oya Silbery.
*The exhibition is located on 3 different floors in AKS, the exhibition area is on the 3rd floor*