Semiha Berksoy was a seminal figure in Turkey’s cultural scene. Hailing from an artistic family, she began her career as a performer, playing lead roles in several operas, films and theatres—including Turkey’s first professional opera production and its first sound film. Despite having painted from an early age, it was only later in life that her talent in painting became public.

In Chain Breaker (1968), Berksoy depicts herself as a shackled figure surrounded by a talisman that emerges and recedes from a dark background, which, according to the artist, is illustrative of an interior negotiation with her own personality. In a second self-portrait from the same year, Love Story (1968), Berksoy portrays a sinister self that conveys both ebullient and abject interiority. It is this negotiation between her interior and exterior self that distinctly defines Berksoy’s painting practice.

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