Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hasan Niyazi (1975-2013)

I want to take a moment to share a very special painting 
that I had the chance to create last year, for one of my 
most ardent fans, Hasan Niyazi. 
Sadly, he passed away last month, far too young, at 38.
I am so humbled to have known him, albeit briefly and 
across oceans, and will always regret never having had 
the chance to meet him in person. 

Hasan described himself as an amateur art historian, but 
he was as passionate and knowledgeable about Renaissance 
painters (especially Raphael), as the professionals. 
He reached out to me for an interview in 2011, and I had 
the pleasure of answering some of the most interesting 
and thoughtful questions of any interview I'd accepted. 

He'd never bought an original painting before, but wanted 
to start his collection with a piece from me- a true honor.
His commission request was unique, as it was the first 
time a client asked me for a painting of himself done in 
the renaissance style. 
I was a bit nervous as it was way out of my comfort zone, 
but in the end he loved what I did with it, and I was 
happy with the results as well.
So in celebration of his life and love of Renaissance 
portraiture, I will share his inspiration for this piece 
and a bit of the process.

Every element in this piece had personal significance to 
him, and was specifically requested, so I had to compose 
them in the most practical way to fit the basis of his 
inspiration, this painting which is rumored to be 
Raphael's self portrait:

-Hasan wanted his likeness in Renaissance garb, and 
offered styling suggestions by providing example 
paintings of the period.

-The hills near his house, the view from those hills 
of the city skyline, bushy trees, and what he called the 
'magical looking dead tree' near his house, all were very 
important to the picture.


-His two cats, Astro and Kimba make an appearance.

-The ring on his finger and the Rose of Sharon, are both 
for his beloved partner of 12 years (which I placed 
near his heart).

-He even wanted a subtle Star Wars reference, and 
provided a piece of concept art of Jabba's Palace.

-The brooch on his hat bears the image of Aphrodite, 
as a reference to Cyprus, the birthplace of his parents 
and the Greek deity.

-He also sent me a photo of sunset clouds near his home, 
that I adapted into the piece.

-It was certainly a challenge, and I had to scrap the 
painting at one point and start over completely, as I 
had lost the freshness in the first attempt. But it was 
all worth it, to hear his overjoyed response upon seeing 
it finished and in receiving it early this year. 

Here is my second attempt at the painting, still in 
the rough stage.

            The final piece. 
                 7" x 7"
            Acrylic on wood.
I still can't believe I finished this painting a year ago 
today, and it makes me very sad to know that he left us 
all so soon. One of the last messages I received from 
Hasan was a tweet telling me how lucky he felt to own an 
original piece of mine, and that he counted it among his 
most prized possessions.

A photo of the portrait, framed, and hanging on his 
bedroom wall.

Here's to you, Hasan, wherever you may be. 
You will be missed. 

And to his loved ones and family, I wish you strength 
and much love.
A very special thanks to Sharon for granting me permission
to make this post.