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Nasip İyem

Image by Patrik Velich

Nasip İyem, who got acquainted with ceramic mud and painting in her childhood years, started her art practice by painting after the painting education she received at the academy. Her early solo exhibitions included abstract and figurative paintings, which she described as “pure-hearted and naive”. Her figurative paintings mostly consisted of portraits of children and women, landscapes, and still-lives. In the 50s, when she started working in a ceramic workshop, she described regaining the “mud of her childhood” and began to produce terracotta works. In addition to her paintings, terracotta works were also included in the exhibitions she opened during this period, which caused her artistic personality to undergo a significant change. The academic education she received in the field of painting also influenced her terracotta works. Her competence in establishing composition and ensuring integrity in painting also played an important role in her three-dimensional works. It is possible to see this effect in the patterns and ceramic wall panels she engraved on her terracotta works, which mostly consist of depictions of women's heads and bodies.

Nasip İyem studied the terracotta productions made by people in the past civilizations of Anatolia, where she was born and raised, with the motivation of making sense of life and creating. She was influenced by the history and culture of civilizations such as the Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, and Seljuks in terms of form, content, and technique. She argued that it was possible to capture universal art only through a unique art originating from these lands. She did not want to add paint to the mud, except for the different colors that are naturally present in it. She made a small amount of paint on some of her works with her own original techniques.

As a female artist, she reflected on the ordeals of the women of the lands she lives in her terracotta works, where earth, water, and air combine and transform with human creativity. In her works, she often depicted women of all ages, pregnant, breastfeeding, with children, suffering, patient, resistant, and laboring. In the social reality experienced by the women she observed around her, she was inspired by the sometimes accepting and sometimes regretful looks and the hardships piled on women with the rapidly increasing population. In terms of form, she was influenced by figurines, water jugs, reliefs, and idols made by the ancient Anatolian civilizations. The artist has composed many of her works from multi-faceted figures, whose different faces and parts can be seen from different perspectives. She engraved articles about her subject in some of her works.

Born in Istanbul in 1921, Nasip İyem emigrated with her family in 1925 to her relatives who were engaged in pottery in Balıkesir. Here, she got acquainted with potter's dough, clay, and soil for the first time. In 1927, she returned to Istanbul and began to receive her first painting education at the Fatih Community Centre while attending elementary school. She entered the Istanbul State Academy of Fine Arts Painting Department in 1939 and studied at the Leopold Levy Workshop until 1944. She started studying abstract painting in 1954. In 1955, her first solo exhibition was opened at the Ertem Art Gallery. During a period after 1958, she continued her practice at Eczacıbaşı's ceramic workshop in Karaköy. In the same year, a painting exhibition was opened at the Istanbul American Cultural Center together with Nuri Iyem. In 1960, she participated in the exhibitions of Turkish Women Artists organized in Munich and Cologne. In 1962, she made ceramic coatings on the tables at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and was awarded a silver medal at the Prague International Ceramic Exhibition in the same year. In 1963, she established her first personal workshop in Istanbul. In 1972, she represented Turkey at the Bassano Del Grappa International Ceramics Symposium in Italy. She produced unique ceramic wall panels and architectural applications for various houses, hotels, and corporate buildings in the country. İyem has participated in many group exhibitions in her home country and abroad throughout his art career. In addition to important private collections, her works have been included in the collections of museums such as the Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture and the Bassano Museum of Modern Art. In the last period of her life, she was influenced by the life of women in Şile, where she and her husband Nuri Iyem had their summer Atelier. She worked with the Evin Art Gallery from 1996 until her passing in 2011. The artist's works continue to be displayed and certified at the Evin Art Gallery.

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