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“Mustafa Tuncalp and 65th Year A Plane Tree of Earth and Art Exhibition” opened in the Dr. Ibrahim Bodur Ceramics Museum under the roof of Canakkale Ceramic Factories, had a value of indicating the long art journey of the artist. The artist has always wanted to be free life girls and his birds whispered songs of freedom to the audience.

Assoc. Prof. M. Candan GUNGOR

“Birds are always free. They fly and land wherever they want. And I always wanted to be free like them.”

Mustafa Tuncalp

Mustafa Tuncalp is born in 1941 in Diyarbakir where they moved because of his father’s duty back then, as the third child of his Medical Sergeant father Mehmet Turgut and housewife Mrs. Sedef. He is in many provinces of Anatolia due to his Father’s duty. He can’t go to a single school almost all his education life because of the appointments. His circle of friends, neighborhood and the people he met in Tuncalp’s life, are always changing… And with the disasters, floods, fires, diseases, he witnesses the misery lived through when he was just 5-6 years old (Erinc, pg.4). Then in 1947, a happier and neater life begins for his family in Istanbul where they moved to due to his father’s appointment. From the animal figures he made with the clay he has taken out from the river bottom nearby while they were sitting in Sariyer to these days, his bond with ceramics would continue throughout his life.

In 1962, he enrolls in the State School of Applied Fine Arts (DTGSYO) and settles in Istanbul. That summer, Tuncalp goes to Canakkale Ceramic Factories, Can for his internship. Here, he further develops his institutional fund of knowledge with the application facilities provided.

Tuncalp thinks that the trio bird group he made in the Basic Art Education while going to DTGSYO, has prepared the way for the birds he made today and would remember his teacher Hakki Karayigitoglu who encouraged him for this work, with gratitude all his life. Tuncalp also expresses that there were German teachers in all departments of the school and that these teachers have gained him many achievements by means of art, technics and discipline. He graduates in 1966. In 1967, he becomes accepted to Buckenburg-Furst Adolf Kunst Ceramic Factory in Hannover, Germany as an intern. He words out that he acquires a different discipline by studying in Germany and he has practiced such discipline he learned throughout his life.

Erdinç Bakla, İbrahim Bodur, Erdinç Bakla'nın eşi, Atilla Aker, Mustafa Tunçalp, Hamiye Çolakoğlu, Yıldız Aker, Sevim Bodur, Meral- Mustafa Tunçalp Bingül Başarır, Hasan Can

And in 1970, with the letter of reference of Hakki Izzet, he becomes accepted to Canakkale Ceramic Factories which he would ‘dedicate his life’ so to say. He becomes the manager of the Art Ceramics Workshop. He designs and produces the gifts that the factory gives in special days and foundation anniversaries. He makes several boards in modular and artistic forms.

He meets Hamiye Colakoglu in Ankara1in 1967. His long friendship with Colakoglu becomes stronger who comes to Can in 1971. In the later years, Tuncalp and Colakoglu would always support each other in terms of art. In a letter she wrote to Tuncalp in the forthcoming years, Colakoglu would emphasize how this bond is so strong by saying “My Dear Friend, Brother at Heart Mustafa, your place and part in this life is eternal…” (Mustafa Tuncalp Archives).

He opens his second exhibition in Ankara Or-An Building Industry Art Gallery in 1975. The importance of this exhibition is this; the spouse of the President of the Republic that time comes to the exhibition and buys some of Tuncalp’s works. Then the Shah of Iran and his spouse see and fall for Tuncalp’s works during a visit to the presidential palace, they invite Hamiye Colakoglu and Tuncalp to Iran and ask them to open an exhibition there and this exhibition draws a great attention. (Erinc, pg. 26).

Tuncalp is an artist who took introducing and teaching ceramics as a mission. One of the most important things proving this is his Kids Ceramic Exhibition that he opened in Ankara in 1980 with the support of Canakkale Ceramic Factories and where he said “I provide every kind of technical facilities for the tiny fingers to shape the sludge in the art workshop and direct them to ceramic works”. The exhibition is welcomed with appreciation and admiration by the Fine Arts Directorate and art lovers. The Ministry of National Education back then Necdet Ugur has said “One of the most meaningful ways of celebrating the kids is to reveal their skills. We think them as just kids but we witness this creative person with surprise. These approaches indicate the importance of educating kids at early ages and develop their skills” in the congratulatory letter he wrote to Tuncalp (Mustafa Tuncalp Archive).

Tuncalp receives several awards at home and abroad but describes the Abdi Ipekçi Friendship and Peace Award he received in 1983 as the ‘greatest award’ of his life.

In 1987, after his retirement, he works his workshop in Izmir. Meantime he gives lessons in the Ceramic departments of Hacettepe University and Dokuz Eylul University.

In 1995, he becomes assigned as ‘Art Adviser’ to the factory in Can by Ibrahim Bodur and returns back where he spent his years, he ‘longs for’ in his own words.

In 1997, he makes his 40th Year Board to the Canakkale Ceramic Factories which he calls ‘the board of his life’ and the board becomes the symbol of the factory. Again in these years, he founds the ‘Ibrahim Bodur Ceramic Museum’, the first ceramic museum of Turkey (Erinc, pg. 36).

Mustafa Tuncalp reaches universality heading from his roots. The geometric transitions seen in Anatolian Seljukian Tile Art, the Rumi Patterns and the tulips, cloves and tughras in Ottoman tile art come to life in artist’s ceramic plates and sculptures. Tuncalp remarks that he has used Seljuk and Ottoman patterns in several of his works of surface design or three-dimensional form because they match up with his view and style of art and he finds them clear and plain and adds that the reason of this passion originates from his pupilage and there’s a big influence of his teachers directing him to a peerless source of inspiration, the Anatolian civilizations (Rezan Has Museum, Press Bulletin).

Teacher Mustafa has opened several exhibitions at home and abroad since 1970. The “50 Years Kneaded with Sludge” exhibition he opened in New York in 2012, has taken part in the press as “Birds gliding from Can to New York”. The New York Deputy Consul General of that time, Pinar Senturk Sevi says; “I felt humaneness and affection along with freedom in your birds” (Mustafa Tuncalp Archive). The artists receives several compliments with this exhibition of his such as commentaries like “Working the modern interpretations of Anatolian Civilizations and the peace-love-freedom concepts of our time, on ceramics in plain and sincerely”.

Tuncalp specifies that he forms his works in his head before performing them out and passes to the sketching step and thinks on the design over and over. He says that he has drawn the 40th Year board he made to the Canakkale Ceramic Factories over and over again and not liked it and in the end created a design he satisfied with. The sketches of it are almost like a finished work concluded with all the details including the colors. And for the production step, he emphasizes that all the steps should be thought in advance to rule the sludge and you should face up to all the negativities. Doing your job with love and desire are the fundamental principles for Tuncalp…

Saying that he always tries to reveal the plasticity characteristic of ceramic while creating his works, Tuncalp doesn’t like hard, sharp lines, easy forms in his works; but rather wants to see the value the sludge deserves and the means it’s capable of. He cares the integrity of the form with the glaze both in his boards and in his three-dimensional artworks and desires them to be perfect (Gungor, quoted by Erinc, pg. 52).

Teacher Hamiye (Colakoglu) says “Every time I watch Mustafa while he’s working, I see him touching the sludge, the rhythm in his fingers while shaping it, the patience of coming through and the joy in the call of the next form. He’s like a conductor before his boards. His hands are sometimes patient and calm and sometimes fussy and swift like someone is coming after him…” (Erinc, pg. 60).

Tuncalp’s life is always in a disorder and rush… And he states that he’s impetuous because of this and this is also reflected on his works: “It’s not enough for me to make and present a work, I always push myself more wondering how much can I go further; but I won’t present a work I don’t like. Sometimes I go past and try to re-design and re-create the works back then”.

And he explains his source of inspiration with the following words: “I’m often impressed by Anatolian civilizations in my works. I made a vast variety of very different works by heading from the traditional. I think it’s impossible to not to benefit from Anatolian civilizations if you’re living in Turkey. Anatolia is the homeland of ceramics”.

Tuncalp expresses that in plenty of modular and artistic boards he made indoor and outdoor throughout his art life, he tries to catch the balance between the space and the board as regards to the architecture of the space. It’s always important for him where the board gets the light from in his designs. Tuncalp uses all the means ceramics is capable of in his works; he underlines on all occasions that ceramics has rich visual and physical capabilities.

“In my travels, I dream in quiet places where I can be alone with myself, I think about and design a pattern, a form, a picture that impresses me and how I can implement it to ceramics” says Tuncalp and explains the reason of the birds he often uses in his works: “For I love my freedom, the desire to fly like them caused me to choose it as a theme. And blue and turquoise in colors evoke eternity and the skies. The body of the bird being plain and plastic matches up with my personality. I’m identified with birds in my boards and sculptures. I start a work but after a while I see it turning into a ‘bird’ form”.

Such assimilation, internalization and implementation of the bird form by Teacher Mustafa, is maybe because of him ‘living out of his suitcase’ for all those years so to say. There’s no doubt that the birds being the theme of his works, has been identified with himself… The birds sometimes being introverted, sometimes flying freely in the skies, which houses they appear as guests, which walls they land on and continued and will continue to watch the life..?

And the 65th Year exhibition, easier to say, a lifetime passed with ceramics…

The “Mustafa Tuncalp and the 65th Year A Plane Tree of Earth and Art Exhibition” is opened between 27th June – 16th September 2022 in the Dr. Ibrahim Bodur Ceramics Museum under the roof of Canakkale Ceramic Factories, with the display of the boards and the sculptures produced after a busy preparation period. The importance of this exhibition comes from its’ value that manifests the ties of Tuncalp’s affection beginning from the internship he began in the factory in 1962 and coming to these days. Speaking in the opening of the exhibition Kale Group President and CEO Zeynep Bodur said: "One of the very important figures of today’s modern ceramics and one of the artists of our country who created the most works, Mustafa Tuncalp is one of the estimable values left to us from my father” and the artist Mustafa Tuncalp spoke as "This last meeting of my art journey that has begun with the world-wide manufacturing company Kaleseramik and its’ founder Ibrahim Bodur, is the manifestation of respect to his memory and endless fidelity to this eximious institution”.

The exhibition comprises of 75 works which Tuncalp never gave up on questioning and headed for new studies. In a group work of the artist, his birds created with different techniques inside circular forms, have sometimes opened their wings and sometimes retracted them to glide, ascend, descend and go in circles. They’re excited just like Teacher Mustafa…

This lightness in birds’ look interest a desire for flying also in humans.

In another group work, the effects created on the surfaces of hemispheres… With the opening gaps on the spherical forms in white and black, some are glazed and some are unglazed, each impressing people separately on their own but when taken as a whole, the soft transitions of depths between each other sets a pattern between parts.

And in wall works, on the boards he created on ceramic surfaces, the artist has given place to compositions each different from another and going from parts to a whole and where colorful geometric parts are placed in a balanced manner and birds are seen on various points.

The starting point of another group of works in the exhibition, is a re-approach to a shuttle form previously made by the artist. It can be said that the distinctive feature of this series is Tuncalp adding artistic interpretations to industrial products. In such a way that; human figures and bird figures have been depicted on a casted shuttle form and these parts have been re-molded to create a multiple production. There’s no doubt that this fine and multi-layered craftsmanship is originating from the artists desire to present perfect, clean and meticulous works… In this three-dimensional series, the artist haven’t chosen a glazed surface to allow the form to come into prominence more.

There’s a different group of works in the exhibition which Tuncalp carried to the Hamidiye Bastion located in Canakkale after the one he opened in Kaleseramik. In this new group of works which Teacher Mustafa became very excited telling about it and produced suiting the spirit of this place, the most standing out works are his works named ‘A Stand in Silence for the Martyrs of Canakkale’. These works are different from others in terms of technicality. After being drawn on the forms shaped by molds, the cut out human figures reflects the hollow within the form augmented by the light effect.

There are two more exhibitions which are going to be carried through by Teacher Mustafa in a short time. Wonder what the birds will whisper and tell to the audience in those exhibitions!

As remarked by his long-time friend Hamiye Colakoglu, Tuncalp is “an artist who always renovates himself but knows that didn’t achieved what he’s looking for yet”.

Let’s leave the last words to the teacher of teachers Mustafa: “I want my life to end with ceramics. Let me make works again; continue to do something while I’m still in good health. This excitement is never ending; this profession is a very hard, very unsatisfied branch of art. Neither your power nor your life is enough to catch this satisfaction”.


Erinc, Sitki, Mustafa Tuncalp, Kale Seramik Publications, Istanbul, 2003

Mustafa Tuncalp Archive

Mustafa Tuncalp, Interview, 28/09/2022

(Rezan Has Museum, Press Bulletin)


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