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 Fahr El Nissa Zeid  (1901 - 1991)

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Lived/Active: Turkey/Jordan      Known for: abstract high-color symbolic painting, teaching

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Break of the Atom and Vegetal Life
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The following information is excerpted from: "An Artist and an Explorer Beyond Ideologies in a Globalized World" by Zeynep Yasa Yaman, Turkish art critic

The biography of Fahr el nissa is as colorful and sophisticated as the story of her family and; her art is equally confused and elaborated. Therefore, the name of Fahr el nissa Zeid seems to be destined to stand alone in the contemporary Turkish art.

Fahr el nissa Zeid II was born in Istanbul in 1901. She is the daughter of the Shakir Pasha, who was the Grand Vizier Cevat Pasha's brother, an Ottoman diplomat, a photographer and a historian. Her mother was Sare Ismet Hanim of Cretan origin. Her mother's family produced outstanding calligraphers. Her grandfather, a poet and a calligrapher, was also interested in archeology (Oral 1972: 9, Anonymous 1964a, Koksal 1989a: 8, Devrim 1996).

Her primary education started in an elementary school on Buyukada (Grand Island), which was opened by Shakir Pasha, an art lover. She completed her secondary education in Notre Dame de Sion and Pansion Bnagiotti. Meanwhile her mother, Sare Ismet Hanim, who was said to have attended a Dergah (monastery of dervishes) in Fatih together with her parents who were members of Rufaiyah dervish order, attributed great importance to allowing her children to take English, French, piano and painting lessons, besides Oriental culture and languages. Thanks to their mother, the children studied Persian, Arabic and the Holy Koran as well. This background may account for Zeid's appeal to mysticism and a personality full of love and tolerance.

The World War I and the tragic death of the father, Shakir Pasha, in 1914 shook the family deeply.  Zeid's first marriage was to novelist Izzet Melih Devrim, and artist Nejad Devrim and director - play actress Shirin Devrim were born of this marriage.

In 1934, she married Prince Emir Zeid el Huseyin, Ambassador of Iraq to Ankara. She gave birth to her son Prince Raad. She performed her duty as ambassador's wife in Berlin and London. Her husband died in 1970. Since 1975 she has lived in Jordan where her son lives. There she established an institute of fine Arts that bore her name

As a young woman, she began her artistic training at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul. Her first visit to Europe was to Venice. She was deeply impressed by Palace of Doges, channels, gondolas, and charming beauty of the city as well as the intertwining nature of the city with the art. Then she went to Spain. She visited Seville, Granada and Cordoba. ?
She returned to Italy and witnessed all the artistic heritage of Rome and Florence (Anonymous 1950). Visits to various European cities every year with Izzet Melih Devrim enabled her to familiarize with the Western art and to study the splendid masters.

In 1928. she went to Paris and worked in the studio of Stalbach and Roger Bissiere at Ranson Academy. After returning to Turkey, she studied under Namik Ismail at the Academy of Fine Arts between 1929 and 1930. She was in Berlin 1935- 1939 and visited Budapest. She returned to Istanbul in 1941.  She abandoned painting for some time. She also left Istanbul. She joined the d-Group in 1942. She left for Paris in 1946 and from then lived for long periods in metropolitan areas of Europe such as Paris, London and Berlin.

Starting from 1942, she displayed her works in the d-Group exhibitions. In 1944, she held-her first private exhibition at the apartment named Ralli in Macka, where she lived. Her second exhibition was opened in 1945 at the same place. She moved this exhibition to Izmir in 1946. Between 1946 and 1964, Zeid realized 13 exhibitions in London, Paris, New York. Brussels and Zurich. She also participated in the UNESCO Exhibition in Paris, in Dublin Academy of Fine Arts Exhibition in Paris School Exhibition in Florence, in the exhibitions of Cincinnati and Pittsburg museums, in the Exhibition of Bern Modern Art Museum, at the Pittsburg Festival, in Bristol Contemporary Art Exhibition, in London International Women Exhibition, at Salon des Realities Nouvelles and Salon des Mai.

She held a number of exhibitions at the world's major galleries and museums, and participated in various exhibitions. In 1964, she opened her exhibition in Turkey after 19 years in Ankara and Istanbul. This was followed by another exhibition composed of her works from her niece Fureya Koral's private collection organized by Macka Art Gallery at Ataturk Culture Center. In 1990, her works were displayed at Neue Galerie-sammlung Ludwig in Aachen and at Institute of Arab World in Paris. After her death. various exhibitions were held in Istanbul in 1991, 1994, 1996, and 2000 and in Ankara in 2001 in the memory of this unique painter.

The works of Fahr el nissa Zeid are in various collections in Europe and drew attention of artistic community. Her works were bought by Musee de L'art Moderne, in Dusseldorf Museum, in the museums of Cincinnati and Pittsburg, and in the Jordan Royal Collection. In Turkey, the State Painting and Sculpture museums in Ankara and Izmir as well as the Painting and Sculpture Museum in Istanbul contain her works. Fahr el nissa Zeid was awarded with decorations like "Kingdom of Jordan", Italian "Rispoli", and French "Commandeur des arts et des lettres."
Of her work, she said: "in order to achieve a masterpiece, first you have to feel yourself within the picture, you must settle yourself in it with all your existence." Then she was defining the people in her paintings. She gave explanations on these people by using diagrams as if she was giving a painting course to me. She advised me to think of my beloved ones, the people whom I was longing for, whenever I wished to add sweetness to my colors, to my figures. She was telling me "Think of my mother, think of Berger, think of me. Choose your colors that describe a world in which you wish your beloved ones could live in." Her advice may be considered an important clue that describes her art.

Darat al Funun: The Khalid Shoman Foundation

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