BARBARA (An Art Residence in Turkey)

Barbara, or Monique Andrée Serf for those who knew her as a private woman was a notorious French singer of the sixties and seventies, a voice of melancholic tonalities from a time where the existentialism of Sartre was en vogue in Paris, and Giacommetti made his extraordinary long and thin sculptures and his imposing draw like oil portraits. Barbara to give a sample of her success sold in those times one million copies of her song;"L'Aigle noir" and did so in just twelve hours, is nowadays perhaps not the most remembered singer of that time, and other stars no necessarily better than her have nonetheless somehow occupied the foreground in the memory of the Chanson Francaise up to our days.

However for Serif Kaynar, Barbara was the ultimate name among the names, and it is also indeed so for many of those artists that like myself have been chosen to attend one of the best Art Residences that a professional artist may be lucky to get in Europe and that is named after Barbara.

Barbara gives its name to the well thought and best designed atelier in the little town of Ayvalik, on the west coast of Turkey, 423 kilometers southwest from Istanbul, between Edremit and İzmir, which airports make the location easily accessible in one hour from the old city of Constantinpolis, the still oldest named Bizantium and now the contemporary and galvanizing city of Istanbul, the biggest city of Turkey.

Ayvalik is only a few miles from the coast of Lesbos and so from Greece, so one can get there easily in about half an hour by one of the ferries that serves the travelers at its little and charming port. This place, and its surroundings that may have been inhabited since the remotes times of human prehistory offers nowadays a perfect location for relaxation with its great environment of forests, mountain and beaches, from where one can easily visit the great Ionic locations. We should always keep in mind these lands were home to some of the great presocratic philosophers and since then have been traded for peoples that left a heritage that still today remains formidable.

Serif Kaynar also a native of this land, has fortunately not fall in the common praxis that might try to find a location on a more obvious pole of attraction as Istanbul or perhaps İzmir, and so he could hardly have a better idea than provide cover and inspiration to the arriving artists in Ayvalik.

But not only the location is a bet and a choice that proves an admirable sense of continuity in history as much as is a source of encouragement and inspiration, Ayvalik offers also all that an artist may need to concentrate, a relaxed rhythm and a local proximity that usually big centers of culture deny to the artist. A possibility of an easier contact with the inhabitants here as much as of all the advantages of its retirement and tranquility. Barbara´s Residence has also been designed with pulchritude and good sense so the atelier and house in which the artist lives and work is a remarkable piece in interior design and comfort. Three floors for the housing and an ample studio attached are the spaces to the artist disposal. A space to concentrate on work when one wants as much as an always open invitation to explore the surroundings from the great view upon the sea and its nice seclusion from the exterior.

I cannot conceal that I am myself one of the Barbara Residence´s guests. Soon a new artist will come and the last -myself- will go somewhere else leaving a couple of paintings as a present to the kindness of the host. Nevertheless, not all those that came to Barbara go for ever and good, and in fact remaining around or coming back to Ayvalik has become an habit already, and so it seems to be to get established here. A decision that some of the artists took after Barbara's residence and some have opened in the old town their new workplace. Moreover, nowadays, a not small group of artists indeed, of which a handful are old residents at Barbara and of which most of them are recognized artists in Turkey and beyond its borders are true part of this town, and surely they will prove to be a defining force on its new developments. Ayvalik is brimming with possibilities and future as it does with a lengthy past. For those that have to leave Barbara and Ayvalik with inevitable sadness, one might choose to recall the stay with the melancholy of one of her songs, Barbara's songs so the soul once outside and far away remains for ever on its surroundings.

17th of June 2019. Ayvalik/Turkey
By César Morión