Erol Akyavaş’s artworks, mainly placed his interest in Eastern arts, particularly Islamic art and the Sufi tradition, form one of the most accomplished examples of non-Western quests for Modernity that gained increasing prominence after World War II. His quest for form and content that has a scope that extends from Cubism to Surrealism, from Islamic miniatures to prehistoric wall paintings and from calligraphy-based practices to the symbolism of monotheistic religions, develops an exceptional artistic language. In these paintings where perspective in the classical sense disappears, each image that is included in the painting is also ascribed a question, and the image is constructed through a Sufi sense of love, Akyavaş creates a world which he embraces with faith. In addition to his paintings, he has pieces created using various tools, gadgets and lithography. His later works showed his tendency towards conceptual work and his latest works blend traditional lining with the inspiration he gets from miniature.
Erol Akyavaş (1932, Istanbul - 1999, US) graduated from the State Academy of Fine Arts, Faculty of Architecture and continued his studies as a guest student at the Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu Atelier. He went to Paris where he worked in the ateliers of Fernand Léger and André Lhote, and joined the group “Cercle et Carré”. In 1954, he went to the US, where he studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology and in 1967 he officially moved to the US and had solo exhibitions in cities such as New York, Cleveland, Rome, Milan, Bremen, Stuttgart, Berlin, Paris after 1950. From 1954 on he spent his life between New York and Istanbul until his death in 1999. Akyavaş’s Retrospective was organized by Istanbul Modern, which presented a comprehensive inventory of the artist’s oeuvre that extends over half a century. His works are included in the collections of Istanbul and Ankara Museum of Painting and Sculpture, The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey, Istanbul Modern, New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), British Museum, Art Museums of Berlin and Stuttgart as well as in other private collections.