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.


Hasret Celalettin said...

Thank you very much Mia for sharing your experiences of my dear brother, and also explaining that magnificent work of art. As you explain the different symbolic elements of the piece, I get vivid memories of him showing me the painting and explaining the different elements. It has been a tremendously difficult time for my family. To me the pain grows deeper. I take comfort in reading special posts like these. Thankyou from the bottom of my heart.

Edward Goldberg said...

Thank you, Mia! I have been going through the many hundreds of e-mails that Hasan and I exchanged over the years so I know how much your art--and this portrait in particular--meant to him.

We are now organizing an online "Day for Hasan" on 6 April (Raphael's Birthday):

Also, Alli Burness is curating a related project, with people around the world publishing selfies with objects related to Raphael and Hasan Niyazi.

Since Hasan dedicated your portrait to his partner Sharon Bishop, it would be great if she could share a selfie that features it!

As an art historian, I am intrigued with the ways that works of art collect additional levels of meaning as time passes!

Benjamin (Ben) said...


Love this post. What a fantastic story, and your painting meshes with Hasan's aesthetic and interests so beautifully. The Star Wars reference made me laugh because Hasan once cast me as Ben Kenobe in a humorous Photoshop mash-up thingy he made. Perhaps I'll share that as part of our Raphael's Birthday celebrations.

Kind regards (as Hasan always used to say),


Shazza said...

Hi Mia! I took the liberty of adding your Hasan post to 'Day for Hasan' at, as I know you get really busy and would have wanted to be included in the tributes.
You did a wonderful job of Hasan's portrait, it was one of his most valued art pieces. I jsut adore it!! Thankyou xx

Edward Goldberg said...

I am sure that Hasan would have wanted to see Mia's wonderful portrait in a place of honor during our celebration of his life and work. After all, it was very much a "collaboration piece", realized by the two of them. Thank you for thinking of this!

Alberti's Window said...

Thanks for including this link in the tribute to Hasan. I love that he took such an active role in defining what he wanted in his work of art, which is something that often would happen when Renaissance patrons would commission works of art. In that sense, Hasan even emulated his Renaissance predecessors!


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