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x0x Painter of happiness and pain Abidin Dino
You may come across the name of Abidin Dino in numerous art galleries
and museums around the world, in a poem, the lyrics of a song, or a
book. He is not only one of the pioneers of modern Turkish painting,
but produced masterful works in such disparate fields as caricature,
sculpture, ceramics, cinema, and literature.
THE `D' GROUP
Abidin Dino was born in Istanbul in 1913, and under the influence of
his art loving family began drawing and painting at a young age. As a
child he lived in Switzerland and France for several years, returning
to Istanbul in 1925. He began his secondary education at Robert
College, but left school to devote himself to painting, drawing and
writing. His articles and cartoons were soon being published in
newspapers and magazines, and in 1933 he and a group of other young
innovative painters, including Cemal Tollu, Zeki Faik Izer, Zuhtu
Muridoglu and Nurullah Berk, founded the D Group, which held several
exhibitions of their work.
In 1933 Dino was invited to Leningrad by Sergey Yutkevich, a
Russian director who had made a film about Ankara, and with Ataturk's
encouragement Dino accepted. In Leningrad Dino worked as a scenery
designer and assistant director at several film studios, and directed
a film called `Miners' in Moscow, Kiev and Odessa. Shortly after
returning to Turkey, he went to Paris, where he worked from 1937 to
1939, meeting such famous artists as Gertrude Stein, Tristan Tzara and
After his return to Istanbul, he participated in the famous Harbour
Exhibition, consisting of paintings of the city's dock workers and
fishermen by such well-known painters of the time as Nuri Iyem, Selim
Turan and Avni Arbas. The exhibition aroused widespread public
interest, and that year Dino was asked to design the Turkish pavilion
at the New York World Fair. Meanwhile his articles and cartoons were
published in several of the foremost periodicals of the day, and
together with his elder brother Arif Dino he studied a new approach to
During World War II he did drawings inspired by the
conflict, but his treatment of political subjects in wartime aroused
official hackles, and in 1941 Istanbul Martial Law Command exiled him
first to Mecitozu and then Adana. The years of exile until 1945 were
artistically very productive for Dino. While his young wife Guzin Dino
taught French at Adana High School, he worked for a local newspaper,
producing articles and drawings that illustrated with poetic realism
the hard lives and working conditions of agricultural labourers in the
region. It was here that he wrote his plays `Bald' and `Heirs,' and
began doing sculpture. In 1952 he settled in Paris.
Within a short time the home of Guzin and Abidin Dino in Paris became
the haunt of many famous artists and writers. The couple first moved
into the studio on the top floor of Max Ernst's apartment on the quay
of Saint Michel, and later to a small flat on the eighth floor of a
block of flats on L'Eure.
Their foreign and Turkish friends, the latter including
Nazim Hikmet, Yasar Kemal, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar and Melih Cevdet,
found the opportunity to meet one another at the Dino home. The Dinos
were also always ready with a helping hand for young Turkish painters
and students in Paris, introducing them to world famous masters, and
assisting them to get established.
For eight years from 1954, Abidin Dino participated in the Salon de
Mai exhibitions in Paris, while Guzin Dino produced programmes for
Radio France, taught Turkish at the Oriental Languages Department of
the Sorbonne, and did French translations of Turkish literature.
Although Abidin Dino lived abroad, he never severed relations with
Turkey and his friends there, and took a close interest in everything
that occurred, particularly in the political field. He was always
delighted to cooperate with other artists and writers, writing
prefaces and drawing illustrations for his friends' books with
After more than a decade's absence he visited Turkey in 1969 to open
an exhibition of his work.
From then on he came more frequently, participating in both
one-person and mixed
exhibitions. In 1979 he was elected honorary president of the National
Union of the Visual Arts (UNAP) in France. His film `Goal' (1966) was
a spectacular tribute to his visual
sensitivity. This film about the 1966 World Cup Final is a documentary
that did not confine itself to football matches, but included
fascinating footage of people in London and
elsewhere in England.
MASTER OF DRAWING
Abidin Dino was interested in everything that was alive, skilfully
capturing images with his brush, pencil and camera. In a book of small
drawings which he did for his wife Guzin published on the tenth
anniversary of his death, we catch glimpses of the love and sense of
solidarity which were his inspiration.
Entitled `Guzin's Abidins' this book edited by his close friend Ferit
Edgu consists of drawings and essays by Abidin Dino.
Text: Cevat Capan