Born in Istanbul in 1932, Erol Akyavaş’ artistic career began when he moved to the United States in the 1950s after which he separated his time between America and Turkey. Initially, his work emphasized a Cubist influence as a result of his time spent studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence and working in Paris at the studios of André Lhote and Fernand Leger.
Due to the length of his career, his work continuously evolved and eventually began to resemble Tachisme and Abstract Expressionism. Spanning a career of over forty years, Akyavaş infused a Western style of painting with Eastern aesthetics such as abstracted calligraphy or iconic imagery, such as the Ka’ba. Akyavaş is most widely known for his large-scale paintings such as The Siege, an important piece in the Turkish art world, which was created at the peak of his productivity in the 1980s. Trained as an architect, Akyavaş’ work is concerned with the nature of space, time and structures. To Akyavaş, the visual representation of his work was equally as important as the internal content, referencing Islam and its history. After his death in the spring of 1999, the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul held a major retrospective of his works.