Scribbled with a prison pen: detained Turkish designer's drawings go on show in New York

Washington Post design director tweets support for Fevzi Yazici who made the works in solitary confinement at Silivri Prison


More than 40 works made by the Turkish art director Fevzi Yazici, who is currently detained in Istanbul's Silivri Prison on terrorism charges, are due to go on show at Yeh Art Gallery in Queens, New York (Dark White, 30 January-14 March). Yazici was the designer at the newspaper Zaman, which was shut down by the Turkish government in July 2016.

“Yazici's whimsical, yet puzzling drawings often imagine dream-like spaces and worlds with attenuated, wriggling figures and address themes related to transformation, emancipation, and psychological states,” says a gallery statement. Drawings made using a prison pen, consisting of “detailed transitions from white to black via thousands of dots”, include Arrest Socrates (2018) which shows an individual illuminated by a series of spotlights.

Greg Manifold, the design director at the Washington Post, tweeted: “Imprisoned Turkish journalist Fevzi Yazici has an art show opening at St. John’s University [where Yeh Art Gallery is located]. The collection is powerful and includes pieces drawn from the dim light in solitary confinement at Silivri Prison.” Manifold has also contributed a text to the exhibition about his longstanding friendship with Yazici.

According to the Swedish advocacy organisation, Stockholm Center for Freedom, Yazici was accused by the Turkish government of helping mastermind the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016. He subsequently stood trial on terrorism charges and was given an aggravated life sentence in February 2018 along with five other journalists. After a retrial last November, Yazici was charged with membership of a terrorist organisation and sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison.

In 2018, the poet Can Bahadir Yüce told the Stockholm Center for Freedom:“Fevzi is in prison because he believes that the definition of journalism is telling the truth at all costs. This is the price he pays: now, his two young sons are waiting to see their father again. As Oscar Wilde would remind us, unjust imprisonment for a noble cause strengthens as well as deepens the nature of a person.” The Turkish Embassy in London declined to comment.