Jailed Turkish visual journalist’s drawings on display at Minnesota art museum

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“Dark White,” an exhibition of 40 works of art by visual journalist Fevzi Yazıcı that were created mostly in prison as he has been behind bars since August 2016 on terrorism and coup charges are on display at a museum in the US state of Minnesota until April 24, the Kronos news website reported.

In Yazıcı’s second exhibition, his drawings are being displayed at the Hillstrom Museum of Art at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.

“Dark White” features 40 drawings by Yazıcı, with most of them created in his cell in Silivri Prison in İstanbul.

The visual journalist’s drawings are subtle in imagery and shading and are created using what has been described as a “thousands of spots technique,” which he uses to make detailed transitions from white to black, a description of the exhibition on the website of Gustavus Adolphus College said.

“Dark White” appeared in its original form in early 2020 at the Yeh Art Gallery at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, which organized and is circulating the exhibit. The version at the Hillstrom Museum of Art includes 20 new drawings by Yazıcı.

According to information on the website of the Yeh Art Gallery, the visual journalist’s whimsical, yet puzzling, drawings often imagine dream-like spaces and worlds with attenuated, wriggling figures and address themes related to transformation, emancipation and psychological states.

A fully illustrated catalogue for “Dark White” is available free of charge at the exhibit, local media reports said, adding that a .pdf version of the catalogue is to be available on the museum website at https://gustavus.edu/finearts/hillstrom/ as is a link to a video walk-through tour of the exhibit that is planned for inclusion on the college’s YouTube channel.

In the text he wrote for the promotion of the exhibition, Yazıcı explained why he had named the exhibition “Dark White,” saying that he was inspired by the prison cell he was in and the material he used to make the drawings.

“I’ve never seen pure white in this small room. … I have to make do with the light reflecting off the walls. That’s why I call the white I get ‘dark white’. … I don’t have paints or colored pencils. Therefore, I manage with the black of the ballpoint pen and the white of the paper. Now that black’s name is ‘Dark’ and the technique I use is ‘Dark White’. No matter how ‘Dark’ the conditions are, my hopes will always remain ‘White’,” he added.

Yazıcı, who has a degree in graphic design from Mimar Sinan University in İstanbul and used to serve as the design director of the now-closed Zaman daily, stood trial on terrorism and coup charges due to the paper’s affiliation with the faith-based Gülen movement, accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Along with five other journalists, he was given an aggravated life sentence in February 2018 on charges of attempting to overturn the constitutional order.

At the end of a retrial in November 2019 after the Supreme Court of Appeals reversed the verdicts given to the six journalists by a lower court, Yazıcı was sentenced to 11 years, three months in prison on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

A member of the Society for News Design (SND), Yazıcı has earned more than 100 awards for his newspaper layouts and designs since 2003.

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