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On April 24th 2009, Haydar Hatemi, one of the world`s well-known miniature painters and tezhip artists, opened his new exhibition: “Istanbul-Istanbul” with the support of Rumi Forum (Washignton, DC) and University of Kentucky Interfatih Dialogue Organization (IDO). The exhibition was held at the Headley-Whitney Museum (a Smithsonian affiliated museum), in Lexington, Kentucky and featured paintings of the landscape and people’s everyday life from the Ottoman era, as well as the portraits of the 36 Sultans.

The opening speaker of the reception was Dr. Mustafa Gokcek is an Assistant Professor at the History Department in Niagara University (Buffalo, New York). He is specialized in Middle East, late Ottoman era and modern Turkey. He presented the “Peaceful Coexistence in the Ottoman Times and Ottoman Multiculturalism” to the audience.

Haydar Hatemi is an extraordinary artist who utilizes hairline brushes to form finely detailed masterpieces. Hatemi’s works are done in classical Persian tradition of the sixteenth century Herat School and are exceptional in their fine detail to scenery and imagery.  Many of his works are in private collections and museums.  This exhibition featured seventy-two brilliantly painted ostrich eggs and sixty smaller painted eggs.  The eggs feature portraits of all thirty-six Sultans of the Ottoman Empire, as well as everyday life scenes and landscapes of the city of Istanbul. He notes in an interview that: “İstanbul is for me a very special city. In Turkey they know me as the ‘İstanbul painter.’

One of Hatemi’s best-known collections is the “Stories of the Messengers,” a 2007 collection in which the artist incorporated shared events covered in the Quran and the Old Testament in his depictions. The artist notes that he decided to put on the “Stories of the Messengers” exhibition in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, explaining: “Sept. 11 shocked me. After these attacks, I read Rumi’s ‘Masnawi’ again. I began to believe that I should work to spread Mevlana’s message of peace. I realized just how important inter-religious dialogue really was. And so I decided to begin working on ‘Stories of the Messengers’ in the belief that we need to fully understand the Qur`an, and that we need to educate ourselves on this.”

The opening speaker of the reception Dr. Mustafa Gokcek is an Assistant Professor at the History Department in Niagara University (Buffalo, New York). He is specialized in Middle East, late Ottoman era and modern Turkey. In his speech he addressed the “Ottoman Peace” model and express how Istanbul today still preserves its cosmopolitan and inclusive characteristics and  maintains this model. He will talk about Istanbul not only as a geographical connection of Asia to Europe but also as a bridge of the East and the West in terms of their cultural heritage. He will mention that Istanbul has been an example of peaceful coexistence of different cultures, religions and ethnicities, throughout the centuries.

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