Sultan is Daydreaming


This portrait is part of a mini-series of 4 portraits I did, each depicting the fragility of the modern idea of masculinity. Each piece in this series consists of the same 4 visual dynamics as laid out below:


  • A moustache as a symbol of masculinity
  • A failed, melancholic gaze with half-closed eyes
  • A varying level of sexual objectification
  • A dimension of time.


Wherever you live, one of the most traumatising perks(!) of being a gay person is your constant battle with the idea of masculinity. As with many of the most pressing questions in life, you end up in a love-hate relationship with whatever that word seems to capture. There’s a reason why many gay people populate gyms these days. It’s because a big heart does not make up for small arms. As the notion of masculinity transforms, it transforms our needs and desires too. And it is this dynamic that I am after.


This piece stands out from the rest of the mini-series with its focus on Istanbul in the background, depicted as if in demise through muted shades of blue. Istanbul works as a great backdrop for the theme of being trapped between the past and the present due to its history. I chose to depict the sultan as the man from the past but wearing a Nirvana hoodie, a playful poke at the Turkish notion of masculinity trapped between traditional and contemporary values.


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