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İbrahim SAFİ
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(1898, Basnurasin Village, Nakhichevan-Caucasia - 4 January 1983 Istanbul)

At the age of three Safi lost his father, a poet. At an early age he began to draw and paint, and at the age often did a portrait of his mother. While attending Yerevan High School he worked with the art instructor Koizska and with relatives who had had art training. In order to gain entrance to the State Academy of Fine Arts in Moscow he studied for a year, in 1913, at a private preparatory school.

He was influenced by the Russian artist Repin, as can be seen in his earliest works. Safi's education was interrupted by the outbreak of World War 1, and after the October Revolution of 1917 he came to Turkey with the army that had fought in Caucasia. In 1918 he settled with his family in Istanbul and entered the School of Fine Arts to study under Namik Ismail, and although he graduated in 1923 he continued working under the same artist until 1930, exectuing a portrait of Ataturk in 1924-25.

Safi's first exhibition was held in 1946 in Istanbul, and he contributed works to Fine Arts Union exhibitions as well as to various collective exhibitions. After 1955 he spent ten years studying and holding exhibitions in Switzerland, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt, Bonn, Vienna, Rome, Paris, Marseilles and Athens. He was known as a prolific artist, and died in 1983 one day after the opening of the exhibition, held at Odakule, commemorating the 100th anniversary of Ataturk's birth. Not long after Safi's death a retrospective was held in his name at the same place.

Safi was a professional artist who also taught talented young people, and who did some paintings in collaboration with Naci Kalmukoglu. His style combined the classical and realistic with an impressionistic sensibility, bringing to his work a coloristic approach and an active brush. He remained loyal to the tradition of portraits, still lifes and landscapes that marked the Calli generation. He had a wide range of subjects: views of rural and urban life, daily scenes, characterizations of folk types, folkloric compositions, historical and landmark structures, impressions of various European cities, and the streets, mosques and citadel houses of Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa, Izmir, Antalya, Kilyos and the like.