Isabelle Cordes is a Dutch national who has called Fethiye ‘home’ for over 25 years. During this time, she has become a well-known figure in the community, having been an active member of local non-profit service clubs; volunteering her time and talent to local schools’ art education activities; providing her skills to beautify local buildings; doing commission works that adorn homes across Turkey, Europe, Oceania, and the Americas; and overall creating stunning works of art in various mediums and myriad styles. 

"Talking Art" with Isabelle Cordes

Fethiye Times met with Isabelle to find out more about her creative process and what inspires her. This is what she told us.

Discovering a love of art

“I’ve had an interest in art since I was a child. My mother was very artistic and I used to sit next to her and watch her creating drawings to illustrate children’s books and for exhibitions. That’s where it all started. 

My father was an architect and designed furniture. He was also a musician and played piano and guitar, which I also learned to play – art was a natural part of our lives.”

The journey to become an artist

“After high school, I studied art, history and the Dutch language to give me a choice of career. In 1994 I ended up, quite literally, going in a different direction and coming to Turkey where I spent the season running my sister’s mountain bike business. She had made the decision to return to Holland but had reservations for the following season. I stayed.

I met my husband, who was a diving instructor, in 1995 and we ran our own Diving- Blue Cruise company until his death in 2008. I continued with the company on my own until 2010.

I am a self taught artist, although I have been on courses and learned different techniques. During the years we ran our business, I only painted for my own pleasure. I didn’t hold any exhibitions over those years –  but I did play the piano on occasions in local venues.”

Art for art’s sake

“It took some time to find myself again after the death of my husband however, I finally became comfortable in my own space and started to paint again. At that time,  I painted for my own pleasure and the walls of my house were soon filled with paintings. Friends suggested I should hold and exhibition and I thought – why not! In 2012, I held an exhibition in the Culture Centre in Fethiye which was very successful and that was when I turned back to serious art.”

Getting into the business of art

“I moved into an original Greek house in Kayaköy in 2014.  The desolation, beauty and the amazing spring light gave me a creative boost, making it the perfect place to work. I held exhibitions in Sarniç Restaurant and opened an Artcafe, an old Greek house with a tea garden overlooking over the village from where I sold my art (and that of other local artists), paintings, pottery, ebru and more. The Artcafe also served coffee, tea, cake and cold drinks”.

"Talking Art" with Isabelle Cordes
Pencil drawing of a Greek house in Kayaköy

“I had an offer from a friend in Fethiye to be involved in Flow Bar, a new concept Art-Lounge-Bar in Paspatur, which I accepted. The demands on my time made it very difficult to be in two places at once and I made the decision to close the Artcafe”.

"Talking Art" with Isabelle Cordes
Flow Bar Art-Lounge-Bar in Paspatur. Photograph curtesy of Isabelle Cordes.
"Talking Art" with Isabelle Cordes
Isabelle’s work on display I’m Flow Bar Art-Lounge-Bar in Paspatur. Photograph curtesy of Isabelle Cordes.

“The Flow Bar concept lasted two years after which I concentrated on commercial work which included decorating Buzz Bar in Ölüdeniz and hotels such as Yacht Boheme in Karagözler and the Perdue Hotel in Faralya. I also held art exhibitions in Ankara, Antalya, Kaş and Holland.”

Here’s a video off Isabelle working at the Yacht Boheme.

Yes its me😂😊

Posted by Isabelle Cordes on Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Isabelle is also active in the community and uses her talent to beautify local buildings. Here’s some of her work that you may have seen at the Primary School in Kayaköy.

‘Magic Surrealism’

“I met a German lady in a walking group and we got talking. She was the curator of a museum in Berlin and, on discovering I was an artist,  she asked to see my work. She asked me how I would describe my style. I guess I would describe it as a mixture of surrealistic and impressionistic, almost schizophrenic. She described it as ‘Magic Surrealism’ – a beautiful description that has stuck.”

"Talking Art" with Isabelle Cordes
‘Magic Surrealism’

Artistic inspiration

“The artist whose style inspires me the most is Modigliani, an Italian Jewish painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France. He is known for portraits and nudes in a modern style characterized by elongation of faces, necks, and figures. 

17th century Dutch artists also inspire me with their use of camera obscura, an optical technique that enabled them to create very realistic, highly detailed paintings.

For my paintings, inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes it can be something I see just for a flash of a second. 

The inspiration for my ‘women in hats’ series came from the 2102 Marc Jacobs catwalk, where the models were wearing oversized hats creating a look of tiny faces and long necks – early 1900’s style.”

What’s next?

“I don’t do many landscape paintings but I would like to do more. I love surreal, impressionist landscapes like those done by Monet. I prefer this style rather than capturing something perfectly, for that you can take a photograph.”

My favorite piece?

“That’s a hard question. I do love  Theodora, the Byzantine Empress but I don’t think I have one particular favorite as it depends on my mood.”

"Talking Art" with Isabelle Cordes
Isabelle with Theodora, the regal Byzantine Empress.

Meet Isabelle

Meet Isabelle by appointment to talk about commission work, or come to an exclusive event where her works are displayed. 

"Talking Art" with Isabelle Cordes
Art Exhibition at Köşe Kahve last month.
"Talking Art" with Isabelle Cordes
"Talking Art" with Isabelle Cordes
This map of the Lycian Way at Köşe Kahve is also Isabelle’s work.

Decorative art classes

Isabelle also arranges decorative art classes for groups of 6/8 people. Please contact her for more details.

Contact Isabelle

You can contact Isabelle via:

Facebook: Isabelle Cordes
Instagram: isabelle_cordes


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