Çelebi was among the most prominent of the artists who introduced modernist art to Turkey beginning in the late 1920s. Earlier that decade, while studying with Hans Hofmann in Munich, he developed his distinct style, which combines Cubist geometry with Expressionist color and line. In this drawing, he captures the joy of flying a kite via an Expressionist technique grounded in bright, lively colors, spontaneous lines, and dynamic movement.
Before departing for Munich, Çelebi had studied at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul. Returning to Turkey in 1927, he joined with fellow artists trained abroad in establishing the Association of Independent Painters and Sculptors (Müstakil Ressamlar ve Heykeltiraslar Birligi). The first artists’ group in the newly founded Turkish Republic, this association changed the course of modern Turkish art. Çelebi’s paintings first garnered public attention at the association’s initial exhibitions, which opened in Ankara and Istanbul in 1929. In 1930, Çelebi rejoined Hofmann in Munich for a year. In 1938 he was appointed to a teaching post in the Painting Department at the Academy in Istanbul, from which he retired in 1968.