Peter Hristoff's Exhibitions

ISTANBUL , Sept. 16, 2005 – New York based, Istanbul born artist Peter Hristoff will launch “Dua,” two exhibitions in the city of his birth this month, each showcasing different expressions of his work, which is defined by its exploration of human spiritually.

A presentation of 10 rugs, “Dua: The Rugs,” based on drawings Hristoff has been working on since 1997 at the Hagia Sophia will be the first to open on Sept. 19.  The rugs combine Hristoff’s signature motifs of the cosmological, floral, figurative and geometric with the traditional structure of Anatolian carpets, known as halis.  They symbolize the spiritual search inherent in human nature, regardless of religious orientation and will be supplemented by photographs, prints books and memorabilia from the Hristoff family archives that relate to the extraordinary history of the Hagia Sophia, considered the greatest Byzantine structure in the world.

Hristoff’s other Istanbul exhibit, “Dua: The Paintings,” opening Sept. 22, will be mounted at the C.A.M. Gallery.  The collection paintings and drawings that will be displayed there explore the human dilemma of spirituality in conflict with base desires, as well as emotional clashes, such as joy versus fear, hope versus despair.

Both exhibitions, cosponsored by the Moon and Stars Project, represent for Hristoff a sense of returning home to Turkey .  That is particularly true of the Hagia Sophia show because of his family’s relationship with Ali Sami Boyar, who was appointed director of the facility when the circa 537 former church (and mosque) became a museum in 1934.  Hristoff’s paternal grandfather, also an artist, emigrated to Istanbul in 1926 from Bulgaria and became a close friend of Boyer’s, the result of their work together on the design of the first stamps and currency for the then young Republic of Turkey .   Boyer was also a friend and a mentor to Hristoff’s father while he attended the Istanbul Academy of Fine Arts, now Mimar Sinan University .

“The opportunity to exhibit at the Hagia Sophia connects me to a family legacy.  Despite our relocation to the U.S. more than 40 years ago, a tradition of painting that references the homeland prevails.  Furthermore, the monument’s history as the greatest of  Byzantine churches and subsequently as a mosque, makes it a particularly fitting  venue for the display of the rugs, because of their association with notion of prayer and the acting or praying,” notes Hristoff.

The artist’s interest in rugs, halis and kilims is a natural connection to the journal-like quality of his work.  He is fascinated by the diarist element in Turkish rug making, whereby the weaver incorporates personal events, beliefs, hopes and desires with regional traditional symbols.   It is an approach Hristoff has been taking in his work.

“The seccade, or prayer rug, is an object of sacred ritual, of contemplation and of decoration.  In many ways, paintings function as seccades for me, providing a separate place to contemplate, a place of isolation,” observes Hristoff.  “The prayer rug creates a sacred space wherever it is placed – an object charged with hope

and spiritual connections, as well as its physical relationship to the body and geography.  The ritual of the placement, of prayer, of absolution all tap into issues I have been addressing in my work since the early 1980s.”     

A fully illustrated catalog showcasing the works of both exhibitions, complemented with essays by art historian / critic Monroe Denton and artist / writer Michael Bennett will be available at the Hagia Sophia and the C.A.M. Gallery.

Pete r Hristoff was born in Istanbul and emigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1963.  A recipient of the Joan Mitchell Award in Painting and of the New York Foundation for the Arts Awards in Drawing / Printmaking, he is a faculty member of New York City ’s School of Visual Arts and is currently working on a series of paintings that explore the nature of belief.

In January 2005, Hristoff curated “Iznik: Legendary Ceramics of Turkey” at the Visual Arts Gallery in New York .  

 Hristoff’s exhibition at the Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet, 34400 Istanbul , will run Sept 19 to Oct. 4, while that at the C.A.M. Gallery, Sehbender Sokak, No: 4 Asmalimescit, Tunel, 34430 Istanbul , will be up from Sept. 22 to Oct.22.

For more information about both Istanbul shows, please contact Ellen Callamri of Squid Ink, LLC at (212) 227-5790 or via squid99@msn.com.

Turkey , the site of two wonders of the ancient world, is a present-day marvel – the cradle of civilization, the very center of world history and a modern Westward-looking republic. It is a country of fascinating contrasts, where antiquity is juxtaposed with the contemporary, the familiar with the exotic; where sun-swept beaches beckon less than an hour away from snow-capped mountains, and everywhere visitors are treated to the extraordinary warmth of the Turkish people.

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