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Hungary’s National Poet Petőfi in Istanbul 200 Years Later!

The Hungarian Cultural Center, Budapest Liszt Institute – Istanbul Hungarian Cultural Center, continues to celebrate the 200th birthday of Sándor Petőfi, Hungary’s national poet and an important figure in the 1848-49 Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence, with a series of events throughout 2023. Another component of these events is an art exhibition featuring 32 paintings by artist Haydar Özay, inspired by the life and poetry of the renowned poet.

Titled “Petőfi for the First Time in Istanbul,” the exhibition is open from September 21 to November 15, 2023. Artist Haydar Özay created the paintings, drawing inspiration from the poet’s life and works.

The exhibition offers a fresh perspective on the life of the poet who is known worldwide as the advocate of freedom and love with the lines: “Freedom and love / These are the only things I need / For my love, life can be sacrificed / For freedom, my love!” (Translated by Edit Tasnádi).

Artist Haydar Özay explains the exhibition’s starting point with the following words: “For 30 years, Petőfi’s extraordinary poems and epic life, which I have always remembered, never forgotten since the moment I first read them, inspired me for these paintings. This exhibition, where literature and history come together in painting, takes its first modest steps on a journey.”

Having previously worked on prominent figures such as Aşık Veysel and Nazım Hikmet, Haydar Özay continually adds new dimensions to his works with an unrelenting passion, which could be described as the art of literature, poets, and theater in painting.

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