My father Ziya Tanalı...





The most unique and true story I know is the life of Ziya Tanalı...


Ours was a deep friendship that we gradually established in my early years, a relationship beyond the undoubted father-son relationship. It was a way of life for me to be with him.


We started reading books and going to the movies together at my early ages. He used to try to tell me a lot when he was watching these movies. One of his -and mine too, even to this day- favorite directors was Michelangelo Antonioni. One day we went to see one of Antonioni’s movies. The name of the movie is "Blow Up." I was eight years old. I'll never forget it. We're watching the movie. My father said, "Wow!" "Seeing what exists from the one that doesn’t exist." I must admit that it's a complicated concept for an eight-year-old to be able to feel what doesn't exist beside what exists. And what was that? Those who know him know well that he had his moments like that. Towards the end of the movie, a photographer walks through the woods. He finally arrives at a tennis court. And suddenly, he encounters a set of characters who start playing tennis. But there are no rackets and there's no ball. I started thinking about it right away. That's when a lightbulb lit in my head. It was the first time I knew what my father meant. To be able to feel what does not exist, beside the one that exists... I remember it like it was yesterday that I had an incredible sense of awakening with that remarkable scene at the end of the film.


And I see that my father made his students, his friends, and many of the people who were around him, not just me, feel moments like this all his life. Touching their lives, having the joy from spending time with them... It was always very important for him to be with his friends, to live in that moment. He never pretended to be like “it is”. If there was something he didn't like or dislike, he'd show it right away. He was a man who was very devoted to his friends and architecture.


Later we started going to other movies too.


Movies were a very important part of our lives. I remember the movie Amarcord ("I remember") and then... It was the story of Fellini's childhood and past. "Look," my father said, "you'll know what that snowfall and the shadow on the corner of that building coming together means when we lose each other in the future.” When I look back now, I always remember those moments.


My father was an amazing brain. I liken it to this: you may not know his youth, his thirties and forties, I remember them, of course - like radiation, when you approach him, there may be a heat, an energy and a light, even a burning sensation if you get too close... He was an amazing brainiac whose thinking never stopped, and questioned everything, and he was a character who always took the people he touched to different places.


I never tried to be my father, from the day I realized I couldn't be. But I took a lot from him.


His departure created a huge sense of emptiness in me. It's like a black hole in the universe, with no closure in sight.


I always go back to the movies because they were very important tools of our co-existence, "going to the movies". One of our favorite films was Kubrick's 2001 Space Odyssey. It's me as a child again. There's a black object in the movie that's unclear. And as soon as humankind comes across that object, they move on to the next phase. I asked my father, "What is this object?" "It's a symbol of the effort to seek the immortality of humankind," he said.


His favorite Beatles song was “Michelle.” We used to sing it together... I'm not sure I'll ever have the strength to listen to that song again.


When I look back, we used to go to exhibitions together to the Gallery Artisan. Orhan Peker: The thing I wanted to do most in life was always to ride a horse carriage when we were visiting Ayvalık. I was always upset that my father never let me ride in the carriage. One day I convinced him, finally, in Ayvalık. He said, "All right, buddy!" So we got in the carriage. My whole childhood the greatest desire had always been to see Ayvalık in that carriage. And the opportunity had never presented itself until that moment. We got in the carriage, and three seconds later, heard someone saying, "what the heck Ziya?" My father turned: "Orhan!" “Let's get off.” Our pleasure lasted only three seconds. After that, we went to Orhan Peker's workshop. Of course, I was very upset. But I didn't even realize that Orhan Peker's workshop was where we were going. We went to Orhan Peker's painting workshop. Of course, drinks would start to come in. He lived in Ayvalık in those years. I would trade so much to be in that place again. That's how my childhood was, among special and beautiful people. And I owe it to my father having grown up among those special people. That’s where I am coming from.


One of my father’s greatest loves was reading Melih Cevdet Anday's Odysseus Bound:  



“…when the deer imagines streams,

flowing is both the deer and the streams…"

he’d start reading. Then his eyes would fill with tears.


Like Amarcord, I go back to those good days and remember my dear father calling me "my precious son."



Kaan Tanalı