This piece is about the weirdest art gallery I have ever seen. Those who follow me will know that I love art – in every shape or form. Painting, sculpture, intricate jewelry, embroidery, pottery, I adore each and everything which expresses imagination, creativity and outstanding craftsmanship. My interest reaches from one of my favorite painters, Gustav Klimt to Florida Kitsch. Wherever I glimpse ‘art’, I have to stop and take a closer look.
A particular art gallery which I have often passed on my way from Didim to Kusdasi has always caught my attention. The building that houses the gallery looks quite quaint and picturesque, but what caught my eye more than anything were the absolutely hideous paintings on display. They were so awful, that I needed to investigate further and finally, last weekend, I had the chance.
Why were they so awful? Because, you see, in passing, I couldn’t detect a single original work. They were all copies of masterpieces but executed in such an amateurish fashion which held a fascination all of its own. In my opinion, copying a masterpiece to perfection is art too, as long as it’s not used for criminal purposes. But these things were so crude, I wanted to see the ‘artist’ in person and to know if he or she really and seriously considered herself an artist or if maybe these pieces were a kind of joke. Like a child, presenting a crayon or finger painting to an adult waiting for praise.
So, here I was, entering the Café Olive in the village of Akkoy, located on a crossroads between the ancient sites of the Oracle in Didim and Miletos and Priene. A location full of history and so is the building itself. The owner told me that the house had been his grandfather’s corner shop and that he himself had been born upstairs. The creator of the paintings is his wife. What irked me right from the start was that the man had an attitude as if he were running the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I explained to him that I would like to write about the gallery and politely asked if I could take pictures. ‘It’s our policy not to allow photographs inside the gallery,’ he said pompously. What was he afraid of? That someone might copy his copies? I was restricted to photograph the outside. Then he proceeded to tell me that he had been interviewed by CNN, that they had started out as a Café but that his wife had always painted and that her masterpieces attracted customers more than his Crepe Suzettes so that they had decided to open the gallery and on and on.
Inside were indeed a few village scenes which appeared not to be copies of famous works of art, but when I discovered one of my favorite paintings, Gustav Klimt’s portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, ‘butchered’ by his wife and hanging on the wall, I had enough.
To make matters worse, the place stank. No, no, not of paint or turpentine as could be expected but of cat piss and stale sweat. Hardly surprising, because he proudly explained that they shared the little old house with 50 cats. He himself didn’t smell so good either and was dirty and unkempt.
I’m not quite sure if the Café, which still has a ramshackle table and a few rickety chairs in the overgrown garden is still in operation but I would have had second thoughts about f having a coffee, leave alone a Crepe Suzette.
Having said all that, they must sell their pictures because the gallery has been around for a long time. Which leads me to the conclusion that art like beauty must indeed lie in the eye of the beholder.
What do you think?