Füreya Koral

19101997 | Istanbul, Turkey
Füreya Koral — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Portrait of Füreka Koral, Photo Ara Güler Doğuş Sanat ve Müzecilik A.Ş., Courtesy Ara Güler Archives and Research Center

Turkish ceramist.

Born on 2 June 1910, Füreya Koral is Turkey’s first modern ceramic artist. She comes from a distinguished family of writers, intellectuals and artists. The painter Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901-1991) and engraver Aliye Berger (1903-1974) were her aunts. Even though she grew up among art, F. Koral’s own artistic production started later in her life, as the result of her health problems. In 1947, during her treatment for tuberculosis in a sanatorium in Switzerland, her aunt A. Berger brought her some modelling clay to pass the time. F. Koral liked this material so much that she continued creating with potter’s clay. She began learning about ceramic art through books and took painting lessons from a Polish artist during her stay in the sanatorium. A few years later she visited ceramic workshops in Lausanne and Paris, where she learned different firing techniques and opened her first exhibition. Nevertheless F. Koral is primarily a self-taught artist, which enabled her to discover her own unique style that would later bring traditional and modern art together.

After her recovery and return to Istanbul in 1951, F. Koral set up her own ceramic studio in her flat, which was the first private ceramic studio in Turkey. There future ceramic artists trained, and she hosted many authors, actors and artists, creating an intellectually stimulating environment. Between 1951 and 1971 she took part in more than thirty exhibitions, including in Washington, Mexico City and Prague, and received many awards. At a time when ceramic as a material was viewed only suitable for crafts to produce household and three-dimensional objects, F. Koral expanded its artistic possibilities into architecture. Her earliest works were small, Abstract Expressionist panels, and plates with botanical reliefs that were hung on interior walls like paintings. However today she is mostly known for her large-scale, ceramic wall panels in public places, similar to the Mexican murals she admired.

Like her smaller pieces, F. Koral’s large wall panels were inspired by Anatolian cultures and her hometown, Istanbul. Rather than imitating the traditional, repeated forms and flat surfaces of Ottoman tiles found in mosques or palaces, the artist created dynamic and lively pieces through contemporary methods and styles, but never abandoned using the colours and abstracting the forms she grew up observing, such as carnations, tulips, daisies and brick red, green, blue, turquoise colours. Her 1965 wall panel Soyut Kompozisyon [Abstract Composition] at Istanbul Textile Traders’ Market (İMÇ) was inspired by a grand mosque of Istanbul nearby, Süleymaniye. At first sight, three stain-like patches catch the eye, but the details reveal joyfully coloured abstract figures in pink and the relief glass material, reflecting the changing daylight.
Later F. Koral also created tiny sculptures and household items such as cups, vases and crockery from grès stoneware. Her 1973 collaboration with Istanbul Porcelain Factory merged machine produced, functional household objects with artistic creation. Her last works after the 1970s, such as Evler [Houses, 1980-1985] and Yürüyen İnsanlar [Walking People, 1992], bird and fish abstractions were sets of sculptures created through her daily life observations of Istanbul and her own inner world.

Verda Bingöl

A notice produced as part of the TEAM international academic network: Teaching, E-learning, Agency and Mentoring

© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
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