Motif for Turkish Rug, 1969
At the time Turani made Motif for Turkish Rug and Abstract Composition (G1975310), he was developing his belief that abstraction allows for a more direct connection to archaic modes of artmaking. During the 1960s, when Mrs. Grey was collecting his work, Turani was a promising abstract painter who had exhibited in Germany, Israel, and Japan; he later moved to figuration.
Born in Istanbul, Turani lost his father at a young age and was forced to work while attending vocational schools. While still in high school, he took evening classes at the Academy of Fine Arts, Istanbul, where he sketched from live models, studied with Bedri Rahmi Eyüboglu, and sought guidance from older artists such as Ercümend Kalmik. Turani continued his training at the Gazi Education Institute in Ankara, a boarding school for teachers. After the end of World War II, Turani was the first artist sent abroad by the Ministry of Education.
Between 1953 and 1959, he attended art academies in Munich, Stuttgart, and Hamburg. On trips to European cities and museums, he immersed himself in postwar abstraction and visited the studios of Hans Hartung, Pablo Picasso, and Joan Miró. In 1959 he had solo exhibitions in Germany. Returning to Turkey, he settled in Ankara and began teaching painting at his alma mater. Between 1960 and 1972 he removed all references to nature from his work, took up printmaking, and executed several murals in sgraffito for public and private buildings across Turkey. Other activities included teaching, writing on art history and theory, publishing the magazine Sanat ve Sanatçılar (Art and Artists), and completing his doctoral degree in art history. He helped found the art departments at Hacettepe and Bilkent universities, both in Ankara. In Turani’s works, his art historical training is reflected in his frequent references to calligraphy, Asian art, kilim designs, and hieroglyphics.