Heidi Trautmann

655 - Ibrahim Balaban came to Cyprus

By Heidi Trautmann


This fine old gentleman was invited by a Turkish Cypriot activity group to come and talk about his life and his experience. Ipek Denizli Karagöz, artist and friend, told me about it and their meeting him at the Teachers House and I also had an invitation to meet him at the French / Turkish Cypriot Association in their house in Nicosia.

Reading his curriculum vitae he surely had a very interesting life:

He was born at Seçköy village of Osmangazi district in Bursa Province in 1921. He started to paint and write at early age whatever was around him, farm scenes, weddings, children…but refused to work as his parents had denied him to go to school. At the age of 16 he was sentenced to six months in Bursa Prison and payment of a fine for growing cannabis, a crime he allegedly did not commit. His sentence was increased to three years in prison because he was unable to pay the fine. He jobbed in the prison as a barber to earn money. After serving his first prison term, he was convicted a second time on the charge of murdering a former fellow inmate and sent to the prison island İmralı, where he served until 1947. Then he was transferred back to Bursa Prison. In 1950, Balaban was released in the framework of a general amnesty. Following the 1960 Turkish coup d'état, during the military junta rule in 1961, he was jailed for six months, this time for the political character of his paintings. That is where he met Nazim Hikmet, the famous poet who was serving a ten-year sentence for the political content of his poetry. He was very much influenced by him and called him "Poet Daddy" (TurkishŞair Baba). Nazim Hikmet shared with him his painting tools and taught him many things, especially in philosophy, sociology, economics, and politics. In a letter to the novelist Kemal Tahir, Hikmet wrote about his admiration for Balaban, calling him "my peasant painter" (TurkishKöylü ressam). They stayed in contact with each other after they were released.

Following his release from prison in 1950, Balaban had his first exhibition in Istanbul in 1953 and to date had more than 50 exhibitions with more than 2,000 pieces. He is also the author of 11 books.

İbrahim Balaban (1962). Balaban: babamı ben damda iken vurdular. Yenilik Basımevi.

Balaban (1968). Şair baba ve damdakiler. Cem Yayınevi.

İbrahim Balaban (1969). İzdüşümü.

İbrahim Balaban: yaşamı, sanatı, anılar, yankılar. Bilim Kitabevi. 1989.

"İbrahim Balaban, Parmakkapı Sanat Galerisi". Parmakkapı Sanat Galerisi. 1993.

Ibrahim Balaban (2002). Tekbıyık: öyküler. Berlin.

İbrahim Balaban (2003). Nâzım Hikmet'le yedi yıl. Berlin.


Ipek Denizli Karagöz and Ahmet Ermann Karagöz at the Teachers House with Ibrahim Balaban
Ipek Denizli Karagöz and Ahmet Ermann Karagöz at the Teachers House with Ibrahim Balaban

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