Sunday, February 2, 2014

Suleyman Tekan: Romancing Turkish Printmaking

As I have been on the search for printmakers, Süleyman Saim Tekcan popped into my radar. I was immediately taken with the physical quality of his work, the deeply etched surfaces, how calligraphy is intertwined with his images, and, of course, his use of color. They make for some very pleasing surfaces and make me wish I could read the calligraphy often found in his prints.
These images are irregular, rough-edged, not the standard printmaker format. The fragmented-ness of them leads me to think of them from an eastern (Asian painting) perspective where the viewer sees only that part of a composition that the artist chooses to be made visible. We know there is more beyond the edges of the print, and we look forward to seeing the next plate to see if we can pick up the story in the next image.
Tekcan's color is that lovely mixture of multiple printing and it revolves around his obvious love of horses. Horses to persons of the Middle east and Central Asia are symbolic of strength, speed and nobility. Tekcan's horses are more arabesque and linear than photographically rendered. They are a romantic illusion of the beautiful animal, crossing some mythic plane. The horses are surrounded by calligraphic text which when placed next to the steeds are an extension of the horse in motion. This symbol has been a part of art-making for centuries, from the time of the ancient Greeks, military leaders like Alexander the Great, the equestrian portraits of the Roman emperors, English kings and French Napoleonic despots.
The Arabian horses have been so intrinsically valued in the Middle east. Their beauty and sensitivity, intelligence and class of breeding is still highly prized. Who could not love those horses in the chariot races of the film classic "Ben Hur"?But, I digress....
Süleyman Saim Tekcan was born in 1940, on the southeastern edge of the Black Sea, in Trabzon, Turkey. He studied painting at the Ankara Gazi Education Institute and at the Istanbul State Academy of Fine Arts (Miamr Sinan University). In 1968, he became a teacher at Ataturk Education, and then in 1975 he went to teach art at Mimar Sinan University. Tekcan served as Chair of the Graphic Arts department and later became Dean of the Arts Program in 1994-1995. The next year, he went to become Dean of the Arts program at Yeditepe University and in 2007, he went to Isik University to serve as Dean of their faculty.
Tekcan has also conducted research on printmaking techniques in Germany and Sarajevo. He has also established the following printmaking studios:
Istanbul Atatürk Education Faculty’s Printmaking Studios
Istanbul Technical University’s Printmaking Studios
Istanbul State Academy of Fine Arts Printmaking Studios
Çamlıca Original Printmaking Studio
2007 Königswinter City Artist Award
2006 Istanbul Rotary Club, 2005-2006 Profession Rewards
2006 Asia Prize, Marmara University, IMOGA, for the Foundation of Istanbul Museum of Graphic Arts
1993 Art Institution Artist of the Year Prize
1992 State Original Printmaking Exhibition Second Prize
1988 49th State Painting and Sculpture Exhibition Printmaking Third Prize
1986 Turkey Asia-Europe Biennial Prime Ministry Friendship and Peace Prize Silver Medal in Printmaking
1986 Bangladesh Asian Biennial Original Print Grand Prize
1985 Viking Paper Industries Printmaking Comp. Achievement Prize
1982 State Painting and Sculpture Museums Present Day Artists Print Prize
Tekan’s work has been included in numerous exhibitions in Austria, Belgium, China, England, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Turkey, the United States and Yugoslavia.
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In 2006, one of Tekcan's major achievements was to co-found the Istanbul Museum of Graphic Arts. It is a place for exhibitions of local and international printmakers. For more information, please contact them at:
Address:Ünalan Mahallesi Keban Cad. No:20 Üsküdar 34700 İstanbul Turkey
Phone: 216-470 9292 Web:


  1. Not so much a comment as a request. Can any Turkish printmakers inform an American printmaker in Erzurum where he can aquire an etching press?

  2. Not so much a comment as a request. Can any Turkish printmakers inform an American printmaker in Erzurum where he can aquire an etching press?