Turkey’s ‘Microangelo’ turns tiny objects into artworks

Paintings on pumpkin seeds by Turkey’s micro artist Hasan Kale in Istanbul. (AFP)
Updated 02 September 2019

Turkey’s ‘Microangelo’ turns tiny objects into artworks

  • Some of his best-known pieces include a scene from the movie ‘Pulp Fiction’ on the side of a piece of popcorn and the silhouette of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on a grain of rice

ISTANBUL: For Turkey’s “Microangelo,” any tiny, discarded item could be the canvas for his next mini masterpiece, from a matchstick to a pumpkin seed.

The delicate, impeccably detailed miniature paintings of Hasan Kale often require a magnifying glass to be able to see the nuances but can take months to complete.

Some of his best-known pieces include a scene from the movie “Pulp Fiction” on the side of a piece of popcorn and the silhouette of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on a grain of rice.

“I started this journey 25 years ago with the goal of establishing a new language in art ... by transforming the objects that we put aside or see as trash into little capsules of art,” he told AFP, at his Istanbul studio.

“It is a blend of experience and hand discipline. I can work on a single object for up to six months.”

The 60-year-old artist, who has never had a formal art teacher, began researching miniature art in the 1980s. He was stunned, he said, by how tiny details and touches can change a form of artistic expression.

But it was not until 1995 that he had the idea of doing it himself on unconventional objects.

He had been looking at an empty cup of coffee and noticed how the remains at the bottom formed what he thought were beautiful patterns in the small space.

“I started working on a bean. I sat down and engraved a picture of Istanbul on it. “I enjoyed it so much that I started trying other objects,” he said.

Kale has since used some 300 items and revels in the idea that any forgettable item — from a pebblestone in the sea, to a fish bone that gets stuck in your teeth — could become a work of art.

“Imagine the noise of hundreds of seeds as you bite into a fig. Can you dream an Istanbul view on one of them?” he said, enthusiastically.

Kale, who works just with the naked eye and “the glasses given by his doctor,” says that his greatest muse is Turkey’s historic hub, Istanbul, which he has depicted on sugar cubes, dice and sunflower seeds.

“Istanbul is a brand on its own. It is a rare city which never sleeps, which straddles two continents and harbors the traces of many cultures,” he said.

He learned his trade by studying Ottoman artists from the past, like Nakkas Osman, nicknamed “Osman the Miniaturist,” who was featured in Orhan Pamuk’s famous novel “My Name is Red.”

As it was for Osman in the 16th century, it remains painstaking work and Kale often paints for around 16 to 18 hours a day and goes without sleep.

“First of all, you must be enormously patient. Second, you must love the work, and third, you should have no economic expectations,” Kale told AFP.

That said, his work has attracted worldwide interest and his pieces have sold for thousands of dollars.

There are advantages to his chosen medium, not least that he needs very little room, and can work anywhere. He has created artworks on international flights and even in a hot-air balloon.

“While walking in the street, I come up with an idea and I sit down and work. All I need is a drop of water in a bottle cap and I take out my palette and paints.”

Kale, who also designs jewelry, said he especially liked the way people recalled his work during mundane moments of their day.

“They remember me when they eat popcorn at the movies or drink a cup of coffee or swim in the sea,” he said.


A day in Elton John’s life: Buy Rolls, write hit song, dine with Ringo

Updated 19 October 2019

A day in Elton John’s life: Buy Rolls, write hit song, dine with Ringo

  • Diary entries helped jog Elton John’s memories from his 50-year career
  • ‘Even when I was doing a lot of drugs, I still carried on playing music’

LONDON: When Elton John was working on his new autobiography, the legendary singer, songwriter and performer pulled out diaries he had been encouraged to write during a stint in rehab.
One entry read like this: “Got up, tidied the house, bought a Rolls Royce, had dinner, wrote ‘Candle in the Wind,’ had dinner with Ringo Starr,” the musician said. “That was one day.”
John, 72, spoke in a video interview provided to Reuters by his publisher, Henry Holt & Co., to promote the release of his book, which is titled simply “Me.”
The diary entries helped jog John’s memories from his 50-year career filled with hit records, Grammy awards and royal friendships but also addiction and a suicide attempt two days before a show at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
“I wanted to show the tough ride of being a successful artist, and how I went through tough times, and how I came out at the end and got my life together,” John said. “It’s the story of my life up to the present day, warts and all.”
In the book, the “Crocodile Rock” singer revealed recent health scares including a near-fatal infection and a serious bout with appendicitis. “I did like 10 or 11 shows, 24 flights, with a burst appendix,” he said.
John is currently in the middle of a lengthy “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” world tour that will bring his touring career to an end. In the interview, he said performing on stage “just never gets old.”
“I never go on stage late,” he said. “I just love to get out there and I’m raring to go.”
“Even when I was doing a lot of drugs, I still carried on playing music,” he added. “It’s been my touchstone of my whole life.”
A highlight, John said, came in 1975 when John Lennon joined him to perform three songs at Madison Square Garden. It was Lennon’s first appearance on stage in New York since the Beatles played Shea Stadium.
Lennon was so nervous that he vomited before the performance, John said. “He came out to probably the most touching ovation I’ve ever heard,” John said. “We all shed a tear on stage.”
John said he is not sure what his future holds but he is still writing songs.
“I don’t know what’s next and I don’t want to know what’s next,” he said. “I’m just ready for the next chapter.”