The Artist Couple, How and Where
by Suat OZONDER
was the end of July 1987, the time of Kusadasi's 3rd Culture
and Art Festival. Right after noon there was a nice breeze
coming from the sea and we had a chance to walk around
the city and enjoy the scene of people having fun. On
the streets were vendors selling carpet shops, souvenirs,
cafes, and calling out "Please! Buyruuun!" to
passersby trying to draw the public to their wares.
We saw two sets of eyes belonging to a young couple and
their art exhibit at the same time. It was a small, very
attractive Watercolour Art Show, expressing all aspects
of Turkish and Anatolian daily life, especially country
life. The warmth and spirit of the country showed in the
faces and eyes of the wonderful people portrayed in these
paintings which depicted the hard life of the village
people. Their homes and streets were painted with great
beauty and understanding. I was so engrossed in the paintings
that it took several "Hellos" before their voices
penetrated my awareness. Speaking to me were a young man
with bronzed skin and smiling white teeth and a golden
haired lady beside him. Thus was my first meeting with
Atanur and Asuman Dogan.
Atanur and Asuman's
art is now recognized around the world with their watercolor
paintings and sculptures.
Atanur was born
in Kars in 1964 and Asuman was born in Izmir in 1963,
more than 2000 kilometers apart. Their love of art brought
them together while attending university. From childhood,
Atanur loved to paint. The youngest of eight children,
his passion drove him to pursue art as a career.
In fifth grade,
Asuman painted a picture from a calendar, later finding
out that it was Van Gogh's Fishing Boats on the Beach
at Saintes Maries The painting made her want to pursue
art as her career. These 2 young students then met on
the ninth of September at Buca Educational Faculty and
Art Section in Izmir.
In 1983 and 1984,
Asuman and Atanur were two of the most successful students
in the classroom. They were in competition with each other
and in the second year, both chose a sculpture class.
One of the lessons in the sculpture class was creating
busts of each other and as a result, love blossomed and
the competition vanished. The two became a successful
meeting of minds, a team, helping and supporting each
other in their dreams to become successful artists.
While most students
were lounging in cafes and taking life easy, Asuman and
Atanur chose to take trips to the countryside exploring
their country with a camera they had saved for camera,
taking lots of slides, painting pictures and using them
in various shows in university and clubs.
During this time,
Atanur and Asuman toured the villages and took commercial
pictures of elementary students to help cover their artistic
expenses. They also painted and distributed postcards
of life in the country of Turkey. They opened their first
serious solo art show in the municipality of Izmir Art
Gallery. The response was very supportive, even though
they were still students. When they graduated from school in 1987,
Atanur and Asuman were married. Their families and close
friends were happy for them but worried since the two
did not have jobs or a way to earn a living.
After the first
week of their marriage, the couple went to Kusadasi for
an Art Show and the beginning of their career as Artists.
Their first sale was an exchange with a tourist—a
painting for a small tent. This tent was the first home
for Asuman and Atanur.
During this time, they worked very hard painting
12 to 14 hours each day. At this show they met people
from all over. Kusadasi is well known as a tourist destination
with a lot of cruise ships coming into the harbor each
day. While there, Atanur and Asuman met a lot of art lovers
and new friends from all over the world. One in particular
was from Canada. When this lady returned to Edmonton,
she sold some of the paintings that she had purchased
to a gallery and in turn ordered paintings from Atanur
and Asuman through the mail.
During that time
Atanur and Asuman started teaching art in Turkey in the
Anatolian city of Kirikkale. This was a good opportunity
for them to travel into other small villages and towns
and study life, the old way of living, and to paint all
of the different images.
They were working
hard but saw little opportunity in Turkey for young fresh
new artists to create a future with their art. So Atanur
and Asuman sent their portfolio to the Canadian Embassy
in Turkey and were received with enthusiasm. They were
accepted for immigration to Canada. Their dream had begun.
They wanted to live by doing their art and this was an
opportunity for them to pursue their dream in a new land.
The couple immigrated with their three year old son, Atas,
to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1993.
The Dogans received a lot of attention
with their art shows all around Canada and the United
States. They received much support from the Turkish Consulate
and Turkish Associations in both countries. It was also
a good opportunity to see Canada and U.S. In 1997, Asuman
and Atanur had another son, Ata, born in Vancouver. He
was the first Canadian born in the Dogan family.
A Taiwan businessman
invited Asuman and Atanur to his country to paint Taiwanese
scenes for his company and exhibit them in Taipei. It
was a good opportunity to experience Chinese culture and
Asuman and Atanur
admire and are impressed by watercolorists, Emily Nolde,
and William Turner and Rembrandt's ink sketches. They
also find Chinese brush watercolour quite interesting.
light perspective, playing with light and shadows in various
street scenes, gives the feeling of characters without
people being present. Atanur's portraits reflect an acute
awareness of character. The face and hands of his subjects
distinguish his work and he is able to create the expression
and detail of any face that brings it to life in a way
that is unusual in watercolor.
change from time to time, reflecting parts of her personality
and emotions. Atanur, on the other hand, likes playing
with light and dark in his paintings and finding the balance
between the two. Both choose subject matter from real life, real people and
real places making their paintings a documentary of the
lifestyle and people they paint.
Asuman and Atanur
choose watercolor technique because they say watercolor
is the most exciting medium. With water, you can achieve
a strong effect with color in a few seconds, though in
turn, the technique allows no room for mistakes. With
using a lot of water, the artist creates the scene, but
with the movement of the water, the challenge is to utilize
it in the best possible way. This technique makes paintings
original and unique, a reason that many collectors value
their art pieces so much.
In 1999, Asuman
and Atanur opened the Dogan Art Gallery in Izmir where
they taught their technique. In addition, they opened
at the Painting and Sculpture Museum in Izmir. In 2001,
the couple, along with some of their friends, created
and began the Watercolourist Association. This art gallery
is an attractive place for Izmirs' artists and art lovers.
Asuman and Atanur
are members of the Canadian Federation Art Gallery. They
are Turkish and Canadian citizens but truly they can be
called world citizens because they travel and show their
art all over, including in many Turkish cities, as well
as New York, London, Paris, Zurich and Taipei, Vancouver,
Victoria, Seattle, Portland, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary
and Edmonton. Today they sometimes live in Turkey and
sometimes in Canada.
can view their larger art collection at this web, please
enjoy : http://www.doganart.com/
author: Suat Ozonder, Belgium
translation: Melinda Ackland, Canada