Tiraje Dikmen

19232014 | Istanbul, Turkey
Tiraje Dikmen — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Portrait de Tiraje Dikmen, in Gallery Nev, Ankara, March 1985, Nergis Abıyeva Archive

Turkish painter.

Tiraje Dikmen, professionally known as “Tiraje”, was one of the pioneering artists of the School of Paris in the post-war period. In her practice, the art of drawing always prevailed over painting, and crossovers between the forms and techniques of abstraction and Surrealism informed her original style. Tiraje became involved in art making from an early age, yet, under her parents’ influence she decided to study economics at the Istanbul University. After completing her degree, she attended the Istanbul State Academy of Fine Arts for a year in 1946-1947 as a visiting student. At the time, Léopold Lévy (1882-1966) was the head of the painting department and he trusted Tiraje, who had taken French lessons since childhood, to act as his interpreter at the academy. Meanwhile, she also began studying for a Doctorate in Economics at her alma mater researching the working conditions of Istanbul’s female workers.

Awarded a French government scholarship, Tiraje went to Paris in 1949 to continue her PhD, but instead, she visited L. Lévy’s studio. At the same time, she took art history and museology lessons at the École du Louvre and worked as an intern in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Musée du Louvre. Tiraje opened her first solo drawing exhibition in 1956 at Galerie Edouard Loeb in Paris. This show represented a milestone in her career, as her works attracted wide interest in Parisian art circles, leading her to be acquainted with many artists, critics and writers, including Max Ernst (1891-1976), Jacques Lassaigne, Yves Bonnefoy, Charles Estienne and Germain Bazin. After a decade of producing only drawings, she finally launched into oil painting. Of these paintings, L’Homme Fleur (1964) was invited to one of the renowned Surrealist exhibitions, Le Surréalisme. Sources – Histoire – Affinités in 1964. In the exhibition catalogue, the curator Patrick Waldberg introduced her as “one of the strongest figures of young imaginative painting”. Yet, besides her Surrealist tendencies, Tiraje was seeking out the abstract. While practising the method of Surrealist automatism in her drawings, she pushed the limits of abstraction through the agency of her signature gestural style. In series like Mai 68 (1968), it is this linearity of motion that masterfully moulds the dynamism of demonstrators into abstracted figural forms.

Having inherited L. Lévy’s studio, Tiraje lived in Paris until the 1980s, and afterwards, she continued her work in Büyükada (Istanbul) until her death in 2014. Yet, in her biographies she always noted that she had never left Paris. Many Turkish public and private collections acquired Tiraje’s works, including the Istanbul State Art and Sculpture Museum, Vehbi Koç Foundation, Istanbul Modern, Ziraat Bankası and Hacettepe Art Museum in Ankara. But overall, she had only eight solo exhibitions throughout her long career of sixty years. Unlike her fellow Turkish artists of the School of Paris such as Nejat Devrim (1923-1995) and Selim Turan (1915-1994), who have extensively been acknowledged, Tiraje has largely been overlooked in the history of art.

Nergis Abıyeva

A notice produced as part of the TEAM international academic network: Teaching, E-learning, Agency and Mentoring

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