A MUSEUM MASTERPIECE OF SELIM TURAN, ONE OF THE IMPORTANT REPRESENTATIVES OF THE FRENCH ECOLE OF TURKISH CONTEMPORARY ART...
Selim’s rendition of the abstract within the ruins of World War II, took place in the aftermath of the artists who searched for the “essential disengagement from the accord” to the struggle to throw away the visual burden of all the images of the outer world from the painting. The artist concentrated on unspotted abstract thinking during this period. Black, painted on one layer after another creates stratified painting blocks, not only does it capture its own painting’s reality but takes it over and at the same time dominates even the most minute area till the very end. In the assembly of the composition the “crucified Jesus motive” can be interpreted as an “antithesis” developed by Selim. Because the training in the Academy and especially the teachings of Leopold Levy, led Selim Turan into learning and developing the “thesis”s of modern art closely. When the artist came to Paris he realised in order to survive in the art environment, he needed to struggle with the 21.st century art ethics and go beyond reality. This could happen in two different methods; finding your identity and simultaneously losing your identity and following the popular movement. Selim, regardless of all the difficulties decided to choose after finding his own identity and especially during 1948-1955 he developped polymorphic shapes. He defied the borders of Abstract expression by defining shape, and perspective as much as he can on a surface with no deepness. The paintings from these years, are full of dazzling examples of Selim’s own guide towards the depth of painting. Compositions that have the crucification of Jesus motive are not descriptive but imaginative. Following his paintings after his educational period, the Artist has developed an approach that magnifies daily life with his own “thesis” beyond the teachings and readily made prescription for, Impressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. He was after creating his own voice, his own breathe when he was painting about nature, city life and depicting those living close to him. His struggle for construing an “interpretation” and as an “antithesis” borrowing from Christian iconographic motives, forces him to put aside all that he has learned before and to burn all the ships for the second time never to return. Regardless of the main paranthesis that has been defined around abstract art, Turan’s “antithesis” holds a mystical understanding of the world at heart, which suggests a fiction with color collectivity that will not disintegrate at a glance. Necmi Sönmez, “Tez-Antitez-Sentez Selim Turan’ın Sanat Serüveni”, 2016, Page: 45, 46.
Oil on canvas
131 x 162 cm
Provenance: Private Collection, Noyon, France
Estimated Value: 750.000-1.250.000 TL
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SELİM TURAN (1915 - 1994)
Selim Turan was born in Istanbul in 1915. As his father was one of the leading members of the Committee of Union and Progress, while growing up, Turan was strongly influenced by his father's ideal of embracing the essence of both Western and Eastern cultures. The artist, who has been interested in painting since a young age, was influenced by İsmail Hakkı Altunbezer, Calligrapher Kamil Efendi and Necmettin Okyay, who are important masters of traditional Turkish arts. At the same time, Turan's interest in painting gradually increased while he was a student at Galatasaray High School, and in 1935 he entered the Istanbul State Academy of Fine Arts.
In his first years at the academy, he attended the workshops of Feyhaman Duran, Nazmi Ziya and Zeki Kocamemi, one of the artists of the so-called 1914 Generation. However, within the scope of the university reforms implemented by the Ministry of National Education, a more liberal approach was adopted when Léopold Lévy (1882-1966) was appointed head of the Painting Department. Under Lévy's influence, Selim Turan and other students, including Agop Arad, Nuri İyem, Tiraje Dikmen and Naile Akıncı, brought a new individuality and self-confidence to modern Turkish painting. The 'Port' exhibition, which was held at Beyoğlu Printing House in 1941, an important turning point in the country's art history, and featured the works of Selim Turan, Nuri İyem, Haşmet Akal, Agop Arad, Avni Arbaş, Turgut Atalay, Abidin Dino, was Turan's first group exhibition. It was an exhibition. Selim Turan graduated from the Academy in 1938, and the next few years were a period of discovery and search for his own path as an artist. Meanwhile, she worked as an art teacher in various schools, especially Üsküdar Sultantepe Secondary School, Kadıköy Art Institute and Moda Girls' Art School. Although the artist described his works in this period as 'realistic', he did not interpret his subjects in a purely realistic manner. While Turan depicted subjects from daily life such as fishermen, school children, and markets, he handled the themes from a structural perspective and interpreted them with his brush. He took part in the Homeland Journeys project initiated by the Republican People's Party in 1941. As part of this project, he went to the southwestern province of Muğla and painted working people there, such as tobacco farmers, sponge hunters and dried fig packers.
In 1947, he went to Paris with a scholarship from the French Government and continued his painting studies in various workshops. In his early years in Paris, he was influenced by abstract art like other members of his generation, and became one of the Turkish artists who changed their critical direction as a result of his experiences in that city. Unlike the previous artists who were sent to Paris as cultural ambassadors during the late Ottoman and early Republican periods and were expected to only bring existing art movements to Turkey, the generation that went to Paris after 1945 entered into dialogue with contemporary art movements. They held solo exhibitions at leading galleries of the time and participated in group exhibitions, subjecting applications to a selection process. His works have been acquired for leading museum collections in France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria. Initially, Turan printed lithographs and etchings by artists such as Asgar Jorn, Pierre Soulages, Miró and Picasso in various original printing studios, later working as an assistant to Hans Hartung (1904-1989). This experience enabled him to absorb first-hand the artistic approach of the period, and he became one of the leading representatives of this generation. Turan's abstract paintings were exhibited for the first time in a group exhibition called 'La Rose des Vents' (Pinwheel) in Paris in 1948.
He opened his first nonfigurative personal exhibition in 1950 at "Gallery Breteau" and later exhibited his works in "Salon de Mai" and "Salon de Comparaison". The artist, who also made marble sculptures between 1975-79, created his first moving sculptures, called mobile, in 1976. Turan, who painted landscapes and paintings with social content under the influence of impressionism and cubism before Paris, later turned to abstract art. Line and stain harmony, balance, relationship and compositional character are the main qualities that determine Selim Turan's abstract works. He created lyrical abstract and figurative abstract works under the influence of Eastern arts, calligraphy and Anatolian folklore. He is among the pioneers in Contemporary Turkish Painting with his abstractist works. He died in Paris in 1994.