Born in 1923 in Limassol. An artist who has seen and experienced the hard times of his people in all those years. He was a teacher and an artist, a self-taught artist, the first Turkish Cypriot who was so deeply interested in art, that he studied arts all by himself first and later went to Istanbul to study with Ibrahim Çalli, the first Turkish impressionist. Ismet Vehit Güney had worked as a caricaturist and painter, and he had his first exhibition in 1946. He was offered the job as an art teacher in 1948. What he is most well known for is the fact that he designed the Cypriot flag and emblem for the then Republic of Cyprus, and also three postage stamps. In 1986 he was given an award for his services in Culture and Art. There is an art centre named after him where at the moment the TRNC collection is displayed until December this year.
I had never met him, but with Nilgün Güney, his daughter and also well known artist, had talked about him and his influence in her childhood:
“As a child at home I grew up surrounded by easels and books about great artists, and sat in the corner of the room watching my father Ismet V.Güney, the first Turkish Cypriot painter, working. Talks within the family revolved around art. Our life was art and the imagined world of pictures made a great impression on me as a child. My father never told me what to do or to do better in my art work. He used to say, ‘One day you will study art and find your own answers.”
When an artist dies, he leaves something behind, a message combining the past with the future.