Turkey’s ‘Microangelo’ turns tiny objects into artworks

Paintings on pumpkin seeds by Turkey’s micro artist Hasan Kale in Istanbul. (AFP)
Updated 02 September 2019

Turkey’s ‘Microangelo’ turns tiny objects into artworks

  • Some of his best-known pieces include a scene from the movie ‘Pulp Fiction’ on the side of a piece of popcorn and the silhouette of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on a grain of rice

ISTANBUL: For Turkey’s “Microangelo,” any tiny, discarded item could be the canvas for his next mini masterpiece, from a matchstick to a pumpkin seed.

The delicate, impeccably detailed miniature paintings of Hasan Kale often require a magnifying glass to be able to see the nuances but can take months to complete.

Some of his best-known pieces include a scene from the movie “Pulp Fiction” on the side of a piece of popcorn and the silhouette of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on a grain of rice.

“I started this journey 25 years ago with the goal of establishing a new language in art ... by transforming the objects that we put aside or see as trash into little capsules of art,” he told AFP, at his Istanbul studio.

“It is a blend of experience and hand discipline. I can work on a single object for up to six months.”

The 60-year-old artist, who has never had a formal art teacher, began researching miniature art in the 1980s. He was stunned, he said, by how tiny details and touches can change a form of artistic expression.

But it was not until 1995 that he had the idea of doing it himself on unconventional objects.

He had been looking at an empty cup of coffee and noticed how the remains at the bottom formed what he thought were beautiful patterns in the small space.

“I started working on a bean. I sat down and engraved a picture of Istanbul on it. “I enjoyed it so much that I started trying other objects,” he said.

Kale has since used some 300 items and revels in the idea that any forgettable item — from a pebblestone in the sea, to a fish bone that gets stuck in your teeth — could become a work of art.

“Imagine the noise of hundreds of seeds as you bite into a fig. Can you dream an Istanbul view on one of them?” he said, enthusiastically.

Kale, who works just with the naked eye and “the glasses given by his doctor,” says that his greatest muse is Turkey’s historic hub, Istanbul, which he has depicted on sugar cubes, dice and sunflower seeds.

“Istanbul is a brand on its own. It is a rare city which never sleeps, which straddles two continents and harbors the traces of many cultures,” he said.

He learned his trade by studying Ottoman artists from the past, like Nakkas Osman, nicknamed “Osman the Miniaturist,” who was featured in Orhan Pamuk’s famous novel “My Name is Red.”

As it was for Osman in the 16th century, it remains painstaking work and Kale often paints for around 16 to 18 hours a day and goes without sleep.

“First of all, you must be enormously patient. Second, you must love the work, and third, you should have no economic expectations,” Kale told AFP.

That said, his work has attracted worldwide interest and his pieces have sold for thousands of dollars.

There are advantages to his chosen medium, not least that he needs very little room, and can work anywhere. He has created artworks on international flights and even in a hot-air balloon.

“While walking in the street, I come up with an idea and I sit down and work. All I need is a drop of water in a bottle cap and I take out my palette and paints.”

Kale, who also designs jewelry, said he especially liked the way people recalled his work during mundane moments of their day.

“They remember me when they eat popcorn at the movies or drink a cup of coffee or swim in the sea,” he said.


Archaeologists unveil possible shrine to Rome’s first king

Updated 21 February 2020

Archaeologists unveil possible shrine to Rome’s first king

  • Possible shrine to Romulus is found at the heart of Rome, on the site of the old Roman forum
  • The founder of Rome was abandoned by the banks of the river Tiber, before being nursed back to health by a she-wolf

ROME: Archaeologists said on Friday they had discovered an ancient cenotaph that almost certainly commemorated the legendary founder of Rome, Romulus, buried in the heart of the Italian capital.
The small chamber containing a simple sarcophagus and round stone block was originally found at the start of the last century beneath the Capitoline Hill inside the old Roman forum.
However, officials say the significance of the find has only just become clear following fresh excavations and new research.
Alfonsina Russo, the head of the Colosseum Archaeological Park, said the site probably dated back to the sixth century BC, and was located in the most ancient part of the city which was directly linked in historical texts to Rome’s first king.
“This area is highly symbolic. This surely cannot be Romulus’ tomb, but it is a place of memory, a cenotaph,” Russo told Reuters TV.
The shrine is buried beneath the entrance to the Curia, one of the meeting places for Roman senators which was subsequently converted into a church — a move that protected it from being dismantled for its stones as happened to other forum buildings.

The underground chamber was also located close to the “Lapis Niger,” an antique slab of marble that was venerated by Romans and covered a stone column that was dedicated to “the King” and appeared to curse anyone who thought to disturb it.
Russo said the Roman poet Horace and ancient Roman historian Marcus Terentius Varro had related that Romulus was buried behind the “rostra” — a tribune where speakers addressed the crowd in the forum. “The rostra are right here,” she said.
No body was found in the sarcophagus, which was made of volcanic tuff rock, but according to at least one legend, Romulus vanished into the sky following his death to become the God Quirinus, meaning that possibly he never had a tomb.
According to the myth, Romulus and his brother Remus, the sons of the god Mars, were abandoned by the banks of the river Tiber where a she-wolf found them and fed them with her milk.
The brothers are said to have founded Rome at the site in 753 BC and ended up fighting over who should be in charge. Romulus killed Remus.