EVERYTHING SHOULD BE UNDER THE SUN
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Winter 2002: 8th issue - **2nd Anniversary**

Mümtaz Yener:
Portrait of An Artist Who Believes in "Labor"

by Nina Goksun SAY


Mümtaz Yener has a career of 65 years:

"Art can not be abstracted from human relations, such as affection, societal order, truth, and science," comments Mümtaz Yener, who has participated in nearly 60  group and 30 solo exhibits throughout more than a half century of his painting life.

A native of Istanbul, Turkey; 84- year- old Mümtaz Yener had studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul with the great impressionist painters Nazmi Ziya Güran and Ibrahim Çalli, between 1935-1938. Then, Prof. Leopold Levi, a prominent artist from France, was invited to establish a workshop of his own with qualified students at The Academy. Yener was among the selected and studied with Levi between 1938-43 and joined the "New Painters Group" - Yeniler - in 1940 with his classmates.

Social Realism and -New Painters Group- "Yeniler"
"In the art of painting, as in all visual arts, the only duty of the artist is not the solidity or the grandeur of the formal appearance. Yener says, and adds "The formal and colorful side, the technique, and the adaptation of the evolution of the art history to the art of painting, can only be assured by a reliable understanding of life and a humanitarian philosophy, which rely upon a socially oriented sensitivity and excitement in the form of dexterity and mastery".
In 1940, Mümtaz Yener and his friends, (Nuri Iyem, Avni Arbas, Selim Turan, Agop Arad, Kemal Sönmezler, Hasmet Akal, Turgut Atalay, Ferruh Basaga), came together in protest against the "Group D"  asserting the necessity of strengthening ties with the people and supporting the efforts of society to improve their living conditions. Thus, they declared their adoption of "social realism."  The artist says; "Our understanding of art was new, more social, more inclined towards the struggles of our people." They have criticized "Group D" for isolating the fine arts from the majority of the people, and thus breaking off with the general- and positive- trend of the development of Turkish Fine Arts. An evaluation of the history of fine arts in Turkey indicates that the "New Painters Group" was right in its arguments. They swept away the obstacles to development of the fine arts; they also managed to turn painting into a profession rather than merely a hobby of the higher strata of society.  The subject of their first exhibition was chosen as, Haliç
-Golden Horn- and  its Environs. Yener was oriented towards factories, ship yards and docks.  Iyem was interested in the quays and the warehouses. Arbas gave importance to boozing shops and wine-shops, and the other members tackled with the boats, and other shores of Golden Horn. The first exhibition of the "Yeniler Grubu"-New Painters Group-,  under the name "Liman"-Harbor-, arranged in Union Press, Istanbul, May 10, 1941.

He worked with pleasure on multi-figured compositions since then and he has been  the only artist who stayed loyal to social realism till today from this group called "Yeniler"- New Painters Group-. "This was a very difficult job to complete a work needed quite a long period of time. I was perceiving the struggling men altogether, conceiving that, they were thinking together, performing huge jobs when they come together, and making a drive through struggle for life together and was trying to transfer this poetical image on my canvas. The individual coming close together to minimize the distances among them, symbolized the concept of power. This has been the main theme of what I have produced so far and will continue to be so. My works as, Bakery, Under the Rain, Reading Machinists, Bodrum Restaurant, Fish Catchers, Feast of the Machines, can be cited as examples."

Yener's academic paintings reached a new dimension in 1968 with his famed work "Ants are Coming." "My later endeavors took me to the ants and their lives. I observed the beauty of living together, the excitement of accomplishing hard jobs together, keeping the social order and mutual assistance at these tiny creatures" he says. This painting received the first prize at the "Golden Owl" competition arranged by the Society of Turkish Painters and attracted attention abroad.  His works  Migration of the Ants, Red Ants, Love of the Ants, Blue Ants can be cited as examples.


"The painter becomes a painter not by abstract and meaningless concocted works but by a conscious knowledge and a comprehension of concrete beings." says Yener and continues, "In the year 1978, machines entered my canvases among my crowded groups as a product and a collaborator of them."  Yener believes that the man and machine relationship is the main subject of the era, and he recalls the movie "Modern Times" by Charlie Chaplin with great respect. Yener continues; "Freedom depends on the amount of domination on the machines by people. In my painting `Band Machine', I protected the worker in the way I believe he should be."  In this painting, there are three mechanical figures playing band instruments and a worker in the front who conducted the machines. "I do not consider being mechanized as dangerous. On the contrary, I think that the freedom, liberty and even the renaissance of the countries depend on their rate of domination on the machines."

Mümtaz Yener has numerous works which comprise the man-machine relations, such as Reading Mechanists, Marching Machines, Feast of the Machinary, and Band-Machine.

He still creates his works with human crowds, ants, and machines  in his studio in Istanbul with his best friend and his wife Sadan Yener for 57 years. Their only child, myself  is also a painter, and lives and works in New York. Mümtaz Yener's works are in Museums, and in many private collections in Turkey, Europe, United States and in Brazil, and he has numerous publications dated from 1935 to the present.

 ©January 2002
E-mail: syener@koc.net.tr
Nina Goksun Say's e-mail:
ngsay@netscape.net

This issue is dedicated to such distinguished poet & composer as (alphabetical order):
Nazim HIKMET & Ilhan MIMAROGLU
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We have been celebrating our 2nd ANNIVERSARY with the Winter-2002 issue.
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