In The Memory of Asım İŞLER…

He staged more than 30 personal exhibitions localy and abroad. The main styles he uses is abstact expressionism which has dinamic and caotic nature. In the 5th year of his passing away, we wanted to hear more about ASIM İŞLER (1941-2007), one of the foremost representatives of contemporary Turkish painting from his daughter Şegan İŞLER. Our interview with Segan Isler;

Ms. Şegan, you were born in the art center of the world Paris as a daughter of a painter, would you tell us about these years?
After his graduation from İstanbul Devlet Güzel Sanatlar Akademisi (İstanbul State Academy of Fine Arts– İDGSA) Painting Departmant, my father leaves for Paris in 1970 with State Europe Scholarship for 4.5 years for his master’s in painting. There he gets his master’s education in painting, etching and litography in Paris State Academy of Fine Arts and Hayter’s Studio 17 of Sorbonne University Faculty of Fine Arts. He holds many exhibitions and represents Turkey in Paris; he becomes members of“Salon des Realites Nouvelle” and“Le Jeune Pentur.” My brother and I were born there. At the end of these 4.5 years my father returns to Turkey and begins his job in Mimar Sinan University Faculty of Fine Arts Painting Departmant.

Can we learn about the artistic periods and types of paintings ASIM İŞLER produced throughout his life?
In the 60s and 70s, his paintings are figurative paintings where he reflects the socio-political reality; by the end of 70s, his approach turns to abstraction and by the first half of 80s he produces in the abstract expressionist style. What he produced throughout his life that was dedicated to art were done using different techniques and variaties, including acrylic, water color, crayons and ink, and contained various sizes of canvas works, etchings, litographies, posters (German posters, Paris posters).

How did growing up with exhibitions, art works; witnessing their production processes affect your life?
When I was little, I used to go to my father’s– who was a faculty member of MSU Faculty of Fine Arts (İDGSA) between 1974 and 2003– studio in the Academy and watch him work. I witnessed him sharing his experiences and knowledge about the art of painting with his students many, many times. During his art career, he attended many domestic and overseas exhibitions; while some of his works would be sent to biennials abroad, some would come back from personal exhibitions. I remember asking him about his abstract works that he produced since the beginning of 80s. To make me understand his abstract paintings, he used to say that“Art didn’t have to look like something known; it was as I see, as I think and I could ask questions and think about the work.” I watched him many times while he painted on a 2 meter canvas or – while etching – drawing his work on a metal plate using a steel tipped pen and following that, the printing process. All his canvases, etchings, etc… they are all very valuable for me.

Would you talk about the years between 1987 and 1992, when Mr. Asım was a faculty member in Paris, when he produced and joined exhibitions there?

Between the years 1987 and 1992, with the support of the French Government, my father went back to Paris to continue his education and work as a faculty member and lived 6 months there – 6 months here periods during this time. He taught in Paris Fine Art College ENSBA, Paris Decorative Arts College ENSAD and Sorbonne University Plastic Arts Faculty. “33. Salon de Mountrouge” exhibition in 1993,“De Bonnard A Bazelitz” exhibition were some of the important exhibitions that he joined. Again in this period, besides his canvas works, he produced works under the name of”Paris Afiş resimleri (Paris Posters)” using a different technique. He had a very efficient, productive life that was dedicated to art. He was an artist that joined close to 40 personal and about 150 mixed exhibitions, represented Turkey abroad many times until he said his last goodbye in 2007.

As the daughter of an artist father, what is your education on?
I grew up surrounded by contemporary art at home and classical music at school. I completed my education piano and musicology in MSU State Conservatory junior high-high school, undergraduate and graduate levels. Plastic arts and performance and theory of classical music; I can say that both of them gave me a colorful, rich point of view and a deep aesthetic understanding. For more than 10 years I taught music history in universities as a faculty member. At this time, I still give private piano lessons and write on art at

Which important institutions and museums contain Asım İşler works?
They are in many important institutions and museums like Victoria& Albert Museum– London, Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris,“Cite Int des Arts Association” Foundation Collection– Paris abroad and DEMSA, ElgizÇağdaş Sanatlar Müzesi (Elgiz Contemporary Arts Museum), T.C. Kültür Bakanlığı Koleksiyonu (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture Collection), İstanbul-Ankara-İzmir Painting and Sculpture Museums Selçuk Yaşar Museum – İzmir, İMOGA, AKBANK, etc. in Turkey and also in the collections of very valuable collectors.

Comparing the perception of art in 80s and 90s in Turkey and the interest and awareness toward contemporary art today, what do you think about the increase in the number of collectors especially in the past few years?

Especially during the 80s and 90s Turkey, contemporary art wasn’t perceived as consciously as today. Galleries and exhibitions were more limited. Art wasn’t consumed as much as today and this caused many hardships for the artists. Today we see awareness, interest towards contemporary art has increased many times in past few years and in parallel to this, there is a big increase in the number of people who buy art works and who invest in art. I think the private museums that were opened in the past 7-8 years and the big exhibitions that were held in these places contributed a lot to this situation. I also think the increase in the number of auctions and art galleries is a reason, too. I also know that private banking authorities recommend about 18 percent investment in art works as a way to invest money. And this is a very important development for the improvement of the Turkish art market.
For the improvement of the Turkish painting, it is very important for the collectors to place works of art in their homes, in their living spaces. Of course, this is also important for the artists. Considering there are countries that require their citizens to buy art works with a portion of their annual income, that have sanctions to support art; many people inclining towards art, including it in their homes and workplaces are positive developments that are also good examples for future generations. I think allowing time for art, following beautiful exhibitons and auctions and art fairs (domestic and abroad) is very delightful and gives a person a different point of view and culture.

We remember Asım İşler with gratitude and thank his daughter Şegan İşler for sharing her valuable knowledge with us…

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