Istanbul: A City of Strange and Curious Moments


Istanbul: “A City of Strange and Curious Moments”, striking in black and white with their restrained and brilliantly effective play of light and shade images and existential moments of the city are both a reflection of the human spirit and the spirit of Istanbul today.

Artists offer their heightened perception of a chosen subject and when depicted from many angles our appreciation of that subject can be deepened.

Amongst their other great works Monet painted the Cathedral of Rheims on different occasions with the changing light, Cezanne the mountains in Provence and in particular Mont Sainte-Victoire and Van Gogh the landscape in Arles.

The perception, the conceptual outlook and the feeling, ‘the inspiration’, behind and in the creating of that artwork along with how it is executed is what defines great art.

This inspired collection of photographs of Istanbul with its ‘strange and curious moments’ is for those who know and love this historic metropolis or for those who are not so fortunate and unfamiliar with it, this is Istanbul today.

The highly evocative frontis piece taken at the historic Golden Horn with the water and the figure as one and similarly in adjacent photograph the water and the people flow impressionistically together and beautifully illustrate the central role that the Bosphorus and The Sea of Marmara play in the life of the city.

This is the artery, its life-blood, its defining feature in which all inhabits and throughout its history partake in its life. It is also the divide between Europe and Asia.

But this is a divide constantly melting with the flow of boats, people and vehicles over its bridges. The early pages to the collection follow this theme capturing these ‘strange and curious moments’ that are characteristic of this constant interaction.

The boats, the people, the water and the sky provide a central stage through which the life of the city moves. All this is so perceptively caught on camera within the pages of this wonderful collection.

Istanbul is the meeting of Europe and Asia and contemporary Istanbul offers, as it has throughout its entire history, an extraordinary range of the human condition: race, ethnicity and religion; the very rich to the very poor; the palaces and mansions, the simple dwellings and the dilapidated buildings, the homeless, the old and the young.

This collection is not a focus on the familiar architectural treasures of Istanbul but Istanbul pulsing with life at times oddly and with such variety.

It is an inspirational work of passion and as always in his work there is the loving appreciation of life, all life, human or other, birds, dogs and cats; life in all its many forms played out not only in the context of the familiar beautifies of the city but also within those other parts both contemporary and of another time: the force of life and the passage of life.

This is the story of Istanbul today.

Words by David Cregeen MA. M. Phil (Edinburgh) Sculptor

About the author of the book:

Timurtas Onan was born and brought up in Istanbul, becoming involved in photography in the 1980’s. During this period, he took part in, organized and attended many photographic events with exhibitions of his work both at home in Turkey and abroad. He is involved in international photographic projects, created documentary films on socially relevant issues and he is particularly well known for his distinctive projects on Istanbul. His work as an artist can be seen in many public and private collections in Turkey and abroad. He is currently holding photographic workshops, curating various exhibitions and working on new photographic projects.


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