Mehmet Sönmez

Think of Bodrum and two images come to most people's minds. The first of course is the castle, perched on its promontory. And the second? Well that's usually something graced with lines and colors that were put down by Mehmet Sönmez, an artist whose work depicts Bodrum with such purity and truth that the town's inhabitants have taken to calling their beloved blue "Mehmet blue". Mehmet is one of those artists who, fed up with big-city life, came to Bodrum in the 70s. With an artist's eye and sensitivity, he perceived that the blue of the sky and the blue of the sea were in fact the same thing.


Falling in love with Bodrum, he devoted his efforts and career to repaying the town many times over for the peace and freedom that it had given him.

Mehmet is probably at the head of any list of "Those who have made Bodrum what it is" because his paintings played a key role in promoting Bodrum in Turkey and around the world. They still do. Unwilling that his paintings should be locked up in private collections or on museum walls, he had them reproduced as the postcards that we have all come to know and love. About a million of them have been sold, the majority to foreign tourists. How's that for "market penetration"?

 

When he was alive, Mehmet Sönmez never referred to himself as an artist: "I'm just a graphic designer" he would say. He was wrong. He was an artist of the best kind and he lives on in his works and in the memories of those who recall him. Mehmet was one of those who came to Bodrum not just to make a buck. He and others like him who shared ideals about what Bodrum was and should be waged a constant battle against the dark side of the rapid changes that the town was undergoing. In the last four or five years of his life he produced a series of paintings crowded and cramped with houses. He called them "Critical Bodrum". They were a protest and a warning.

Mehmet Sönmez: He identified with Bodrum more than anyone else has ever done perhaps and brought it joy

He loved Bodrum and Bodrum loved him.

They still do.


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