Kalmik graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, Istanbul, in 1937. After selling his house, he personally financed a trip to Paris to study with André Lhote and take art-history classes at the Sorbonne, but his studies were interrupted by the German occupation. Returning to Turkey, Kalmik worked as a newspaper illustrator and book designer. His earlier work was well received, and he was recognized as an impressive colorist at his first solo exhibition in 1941. Kalmik is a transitional artist, one whose maturation in the 1950s coincided with a moment of intense debate in Turkey between partisans of abstraction and figuration. His paintings reflect this tension—flirting with the expressive potential of color but never crossing over to full-fledged abstraction.
As a teacher, Kalmik developed a foundational art and design course for Turkish students. His two highly influential books, Systems of Color Harmony (1950) and Texture in Nature and Art (1964), provided an interdisciplinary curriculum at the School of Architecture at Istanbul Technical University in the 1950s and, from 1970, at the Academy of Fine Arts, Istanbul. Having shaped the training of generations of artists, designers, and architects, Kalmik is remembered as one of Turkey’s most significant art educators.