|Fikret Mualla was born in Istanbul in 1903, the son of an aristocratic family. An injury to his leg incurred while playing football during his years as a boarding student at Galatasary Lycée was to give a morbid and introverted twist to his character. This unfortunate accident was followed by the death of his mother. For years, Mualla was never to forget that he had been the cause of his mother's death by infecting her with the Spanish flu' he had carried with him from school, and the guilt complex this produced was to be the cause of the psychological trouble that affected his whole character from then on. At the same time, his father's weakness for women and his immediate remarriage after the death of his wife were to produce wounds in the sensitive mind of the fifteen year old Mualla that left scars hat were to remain with him for the rest of his life.
In 1920 he went to Switzerland to study engineering. Utterly penniless, he received some money from the Consul Riza Bey, and with this he went to Heidelberg, and from there to Berlin, where he enrolled in the poster and design department of the Academy of Fine Arts, joining the studio of Arthur Kampf.
In the 1930s he worked for a short time as teacher of art in the Galatasary Lycée in Istanbul, at the same time producing a number of scenes of the city. However, the difficult circumstances in which he found himself led to excessive drinking and he was finally obliged to leave the Lycée. He was appointed as teacher of art in a school in Ayvalik, where he lived from 1934 to 1935,3 but it was impossible for Mualla to achieve happiness in this little coastal town. Quarrels with the headmaster led to his being beaten up in the local police station, and from that time onwards the police were to form the basis of the nightmares that plagued him all through his life. Fikret Mualla died in 1967. He was first of all buried in the Reillanne cemetery, but his body was later taken back to Turkey.
The story of Fikret Mualla's life abroad, which began at the end of 1938, was to end in Paris. The Paris streets, shopping centres, markets and coffee-houses are brought to life in all their colour and variety in Fikret Mualla's canvases. And particularly the bars. It was in the bars, where he would relax to the sound of saxophones and double basses, that Mualla could forget his mental stresses, his constant homesickness for Istanbul and his poverty and destitution. In these pictures, which he created by fusing the environment with his palette, there is only happiness, even though only for a very short time...It was in such an environment that Fikret Mualla produced a constant flow of pictures in his own individual style and in harmony with his own individual personality. The pictures are sometimes produced by crushing the colours on to wrapping paper, sometimes by the use of crayons. In these pictures one can hear the cries of happiness of the diseased mind of an artist doomed to despair.
Fikret Mualla, as an artist who had to paint for a living, was obliged to be prolific. He had to paint to live, for only by painting could he escape from the fears that were destroying his very being. He had to paint to live, because he had to eat, and, more particularly, to drink. The agonies of a painful life were transformed into paintings full of life and vigour.Fikret Mualla was an artist by birth. The chaotic nature of his life style and his lack of mental balance were the basis for his productivity as an artist. He could esape from these torments only by painting, and this increased the intensity with which he worked. It was a life-style that gave no opportunity for careful choice of materials, paints or subject. He had neither the resources, nor the time nor the necessity. Yes, very beautiful pictures can be produced from aubergines. If the painter is a Fikret Mualla!