scrifice scene by Richard Bartle


About the work

There’s a national holiday in Turkey called Kurban Bayram, traditionally a family rears a sheep and then on the day of the holiday they sacrifice it and the meat is given to the poor. I have never actually witnessed the sacrifice, but I have seen the blood in the streets, it’s a very messy business. The government tries to control this by creating special purpose-built centres, but people still do it. This painting reflects on this. It also reflects on something more tragic and sacrificial in the political history of Turkey.

I remember walking through Kadıkoy with a friend and seeing the stencil of the three characters I used in this painting for the first time, it was sprayed on the footpath. I asked my friend who they were. My friend told me the story of the Üç Fidan, ‘The Three Seedlings’. I discovered that they were the founders of The People’s Liberation Army of Turkey, a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary group in the 60s lead by Deniz Gezmiş. Deniz Gezmiş in the one on the left. The story goes that they were active against the government and eventually arrested and hung. They became martyrs. Deniz Gezmiş is considered to be Turkey’s Ché Guevara. I put them in this painting positioned as witnesses to the scene of slaughter. Not just as a testament to their own sacrifice but to everyone who has fallen in the universal struggle for a fairer world.

Someone described this as my own personal Guernica, I guess that’s true as there is so much in this work about the horrors people are capable of.

kurban sahnesi
(sacifice scene)


mixed media on canvas

200cm x 496cm

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© 1996 Richard Bartle, all rights reserved.