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The Dogans:
The Artist Couple, How and Where


by Suat OZONDER

 

It 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.

Atanur and Asuman Dogan


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 people.

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.

 Asuman's 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.

Asuman's colors 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.

 

Dogan Art Gallery
Email: asuman_atanur@yahoo.com             
You can view their larger art collection at this web, please enjoy :  http://www.doganart.com/ 

 

Original author: Suat Ozonder, Belgium
English translation: Melinda Ackland, Canada

   
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