Following his mother’s death in 1918 and an ensuing bout of disruptive behaviour, Moualla was sent to Zurich to study engineering. Unwilling to comply with his father’s wishes, Moualla fled first to Heidelberg, then to Munich, where he enrolled in art school, before transferring to the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Berlin. In 1928 or 1929 he returned to Turkey, stopping over in Paris en route. He was appointed to a teaching post, first in Istanbul and then in Ayvalik, but his erratic behaviour prevented him from keeping either position. Despite regular trips to the psychiatric hospital throughout the1930s, he continued to produce drawings and watercolours and contributed to a number of reviews including Ses and Yeni Adam. In 1939 he left Turkey and settled in Paris where he attended classes at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and the studios of Othon Friesz and André Lhote. His gouaches generated some interest which led to exhibitions at the galleries of Dina Vierny, Katia Granoff and Marcel Bernheim among others. However, his psychological troubles and excessive drinking continued to plague both Moualla and his dealers and, on their suggestion, he left Paris for the Alpes-Maritimes in 1962 where one of his principal patrons, Mme Anglès, found him lodgings. He continued to paint here until his death in 1967.
Moualla worked primarily with gouache, which permitted rapid execution and savings on materials. Following in the footsteps of Toulouse-Lautrec, his principal source of inspiration was Parisian life and preferred subjects included nudes, scenes from brothels, streets and cafés, as well as a few still-lifes. His lyrical paintings, which appear to cultivate a symbiosis between fauvism and expressionism in their use of flat patches of warm reds, pinks and oranges, remain in sharp contrast with his biting drawings which verge on caricature. The intimacy of his urban and domestic scenes recalls the work of Bonnard.
1936, World Exhibition, New York
1957, 1958, Galerie Marcel Bernheim, Paris
1946, Exposition Internationale d’Art Moderne, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris (organised by the United Nations)
2006, Dessins de Fikret Moualla, Centre Culturel Anatolie, Paris