“In The Eye of The Beholder”

hanife sevim - tlf
Untitled, 2006, Hanife Sevim, Oil on canvas

Made in 2006 and generously given to us by our beloved family friend Hanife Sevim, this painting has been hanging on our wall in our house in Istanbul for years. The painting depicts two figures circled in a whirlwind of color. Among its many other characteristics, what has always been most interesting to me is its Rorschach-like quality. The painting, like most (post) modern pieces of art, often generates revealing commentary from its beholders. For instance, one guest who was going through turbulent family times claimed that the painting was depicting “a mother who sacrifices everything for her children,” while another said that the two figures were a couple who were trying to protect each other from the outside world.

The notion that the personal readings of a piece renders the artists’ intentions obsolete is nothing new, of course. Therefore, I do not believe that this piece is fascinating only because of its ability to create countless different interpretations, but rather in the way that it is able to do so. We are prone to be drawn to and impressed by artwork that speaks to our most unconscious thoughts and our cognitive ability to sense and appreciate technical prowess. I feel that this painting is unique and powerful in its way of bringing together a great technical quality (which I am able to sense, but unable to name) alongside its ability to touch personal stories and invoke personal sentiments.