Ivy

This is a painting inspired by the last stanza of a poem by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar. It is one of the three paintings done between 2001 and 2003 that are based on fragments of poems in a surrealistic scene. In the painting, the earth becomes engulfed between the leaves of an ivy rooted in a space capsule.

This poem can be interpreted in many ways. To me, it describes somebody who had achieved enlightenment and inner peace, probably accompanied by old age.

Sarmasik Hakan Unlu
Ivy by Hakan Unlu, 2003, Oil on canvas
In the first stanza, the poet describes himself as being neither inside nor outside of time, but in the perpetual flow of one indivisible moment. What comes to mind is a floating figure and this feeling is further strengthened in the following stanza.
The first two lines of this stanza play on the double meaning of the word “uyuşmuş” which can mean “harmonised” or “numb”.  While saying “every shape is harmonised with the strange colour of a dream” it also gives the feeling of a lot of numb figures floating in a dream world. Then the following two lines say “even a feather floating in the wind is not as light as me” to move this slow, weightless, floating feeling to a higher level.
Then he says “my head is an endless mill, grinding silence, and inside me, there is a content dervish without a cloak or sheepskin”. This paints a vivid visual scenery of a person with inner peace. His mind is not cluttered with disturbing thoughts, he is a dervish but even lighter because he does not possess the weight of the cloak a dervish should normally carry.
This brings us to the last stanza which is depicted in the picture. “The world has become an ivy, rooted in me, I am feeling it and I am swimming (or floating) in a blue, pure blue light.”
Whenever I read this poem, I always felt weightless and calm in a silent, peaceful place without gravity, like the spacecraft in the picture. It is as if the whole world is growing out of this, only supported by my presence and will be lost if I let it go.
Sarmasik Poem by A H Tanpinar
The world is an ivy rooted in me, I feel it, and I float in the middle of a pure blue light.