Monday, March 29, 2010

Oil and cartoon by Bayram Hajizadeh

Last week I was very honoured to receive the latest book written and edited by Mr Bayram Hajizadeh, Doctor of Philosophy, Honoured Art Worker of the Azerbaijan Republic and President of the Azerbaijan Cartoonist Union. I knew his previous books were very interesting and this new book is gratifying me a lot again. Not only by the fact that the cartoons in it at are excellent, but also by the concept of the book: a combination of history, art and humor.

The book is devoted to the 15th anniversary of the oil contract signed in Azerbaijan called "The Contract of the Century".

Oil and cartoon cover

In a first part, Mr Hajizadeh writes about the rich history of oil exploration in Azerbaijan from antique times, over Marco Polo, who was the first European to visit the Caucasus, until modern times. "If oil is the Queen, then Baku is her throne", emphasized Winston Churchill at the beginning of the 20th century.

"Our 'friends'" (1919)
In the second part we find the history of cartoons and oil in Azerbaijan.As capitalism was developing rapidly, there was a fertile condition for the formation of the cartoon as an independent genre. We learn that the people skillfully used cartoons and critical satiric drawings to declare their protests and discontents to oil mine owners, state officials and power circles. Foreign occupiers who tried to own Azerbaijan's oil and other natural wealth, were criticized. In the soviet period mostly exposed cartoon subject were shortcomings in the field of oil industry, anarchy prevailed in offices and organisations, office heads and directors, irresponsible state officials and directors of oil wells. The importance of satirical newspapers and magazines such as "Molla Nasreddin" (first issue 1906) and "Kirpi" (Eng. Hedgehog, first issue 1952) is well documented in the book.
Cover of the satiric magazine 'Kirpi' (1952, no 1)

B.Hajizadeh "Molla Nasreddin: -Azerbaijan -
a land of oil - is prospering day by day"
The third part contains the selected cartoons of the Molla Nasreddin cartoon contest 2009.
This contest was devoted to the 103rd anniversary of the first satiric and cartoon magazine in the East and in all Moslim countries - “Molla Nasreddin”. The theme was 'the importance of oil in the world'.

Here is a selection of some top cartoons out of the book:

Veselin Damyanov, Bulgaria

Vahid Jafari, Iran

Slawomir Luczynski, Poland
Shevket Yalaz, Turkey

Julio Angel Carrion Cueva, Peru

Ilya Katz, Israel
Angel Boligan, Mexico

Ferreol Murillo Fuentos, Costa Rica

I thank Mr Hajizadeh again for sending me this very nice book and his great work!

Learn more:
Petroleum Industry in Azerbaijan (Wikipedia)
Bayram Hajizadeh bio
Some pages out of the book on Azercartoon

Cartoonbook file:

Previous articles on our blog:
World cartoon by Bayram Hajizadeh
Contemporary cartoon of Azerbaijan

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Turhan Selçuk was drawing for a better world.

Today Jean-Marie sent me an interesting article on Turhan Selçuk.

The text shows well the commitment of this exceptional man, and the impact of his work in the field of graphic arts in Turkey.

Thanks to the authors, Tan Oral and Izel Rozental, to give permission to Jean-Marie, to put it online on our blog.

This is the article:

We lost Turhan Selçuk, a grandmaster of graphic humor. His throne in our world of cartoons will last forever.

Nine years ago, we celebrated Turhan’s 60th anniversary in arts. During the meeting his close friends expressed their feelings and thoughts. I'd like to share once more all I said that day about him:
"This evening I want to point out Turhan Selçuk’s three awards I found most important.

I have the chance to be witness of the last 40 years of his 60 years artistic career. This position gave to me the opportunity to criticize and "to re-start" our subject. I consider ‘temporary cartoon’ as a 20th century art. In fact, it actually belongs to the second half of this century. In the 1950s, short after the World War II, a fresh new line started to comment the new world order. In our country as well as in the world, the first striking examples of this new art emerged simultaneously.
In the 50’s, political and editorial cartoons were already there in a traditional style. I was not involved with political cartoons at that time. Their lines were mediocre. However, with his strong artistic power, Turhan was among the firsts who gave avant-garde examples of this new graphic style.
However, those years our country was experiencing violent struggles for democracy and the cartoonists founded themselves in a hot political task. The usage of the new graphic style as a tool of interaction gave birth to a new synthesis. Political commentary and criticism were highly effective in this new graphic art-line.
This synthesis of a whole new dimension, amazing effects and unique version, brought to Turhan in 1957 his first international award: The Palme d'Or from Bordighera, Italy. The rest bent over with fruit. The called ‘50 Generation’ community collected lots of international awards. In my opinion, that’s Turhan’s first important prize!..

I interviewed once Turhan on the occasion of his 40th year in arts and asked him, "What were the factors who pushed you on this way?” His answer was explanatory: "At the beginning, drawing was a single desire, it could be or not… But then, my resentment against injustice became strong. ‘Graphic humor’ was a powerful tool to reflect my anger on a wider environment. The cartoonist lives under the influence of the incident."

Its influence and power increasing, this 20th century graphic art, dealing with the problems of the people, went down to the society. Turhan Selçuk and ‘the 50 Generation’ were accepted by the public. However, at that day, works defending the interests of the people were not popular. On the contrary, entertaining cartoons and comics were in vogue. This struggle of the lines lasted for years, and the result was another interesting synthesis.
In 1971, this synthesis has brought a new award. During the dark days of March 12 regime, a small ceremony was organized at the Union of Artists of Turkey for Turhan who was nominated as the “People's Artist". I explained the rationale of this award as, “succeeding to make his work accessible to the public when defending the interests of the people..."

Turhan, has always admitted the importance of this award.

I believe this Turhan's most important second prize!..

I asked him once, "If you have the choice to make part of an action that could make live yourself and other people in a better world, what would you choose, cartooning or the action?" His response was as follows: "A better, happier world is a purpose for people, a desire. Of course I would choose the action. But I cannot imagine a world without cartoons.” And he continues, "Does sometimes my lines becomes serious, or what? Sometimes I laugh at my own drawings. I feel bored when my editors are unreactive. But the reaction from my readers relaxes me. That is the greatest reward. "
Yes, I think that this is the third and the most important prize of Turhan!..“

Published on Taraf newspaper, the 12th March 2010, translated from Turkish by Izel Rozental

Also read:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A great artist and conscience is gone: Turhan Selçuk.

Article by JMB

At the beginning of this presentation, I would like to first quote what Pierre Franzot judiciously wrote in the French magazine Caricature et Caricaturistes in 1989:
“Although the person we are introducing to you today draws political and current-events cartoons as well as comic strips, what makes him a true master is his superior approach to the graphic arts and the humor. With trepidation I take off my hat to a great artist who is completely unknown in France. It is my hope that our own talented youth will be influenced by him.
The power of this Near Eastern artist’s pen is such as to cause envy among many of his Western colleagues and he is fully entitled to such praise but rather than face charge of “laying it on with a trowel” I will withdraw and leave you alone with his drawings. In order to appreciate his work, you needn’t know that his father was a military officer or what schools he studied in. It will suffice if you know this: Since the very beginning, Turhan has been a cartoonist who has transcended all the rules and labels. Like Chaval, he too has a singular, individual style – one that cannot be classified or pigeonholed. Influenced by the post-war cartoons and humor of Steinberg, Turhan developed, on his own, simultaneously creating a unique personal style and established a world of his own. In order to understand the force of his humor, it is sometimes necessary to dwell upon the sparseness of his aesthetics. For Turhan, a pen is a mean of expression. Turhan Selçuk is one of the most consistently surprising humorists of our days.”

Tuhran published his first cartoon album in 1954. Although the here above book is his seventh cartoon album, Turhan’s bibliography was already much longer, as 36 yearly books of his comic strips character Adbdülcanbaz were published at that time (1989).

“Master Censorship”

In the same year, Tuhran said in an interview: "In a country like ours, where one loves so much humor, one gets too much angry with humor too... Many lawsuits are brought against cartoons or puns taken too seriously. I think it is because there is no tolerance in Turkey that prevails in the West. Turkish people take humor more seriously, give it more importance. In short, we can state that « Turkey humor is serious business » and I think that's one of the peculiarities of Turkish humor."From Republic presidents to heads of political parties, many people filed a lawsuit against me. Most of the time I was acquitted; once or twice, I was sentenced.

Tuhran also said: ”Few weeks after the 12 March 1971 military coup, I was arrested and detained. At the riot police barracks I was beaten, I had fractured ribs when there were no legal charges about me. Yes indeed, as I said: In my country humor is serious business. We may add: and sometimes it is also dangerous.”
“The Professional Organization of French Newspapers Cartoonists in Paris has protested the arrest of Mr. Selçuk, Turhan Selçuk who is the most famous of Turkish cartoonists. Works of his have been published in many foreign countries. He is cited in Enciclopedia dell’ Humorismo; he has achieved fame for his cartoons, his original graphic style, and his sharp wit.”
Le Monde / 1971 (France).

Here are some cartoons from this book published in 1995 :

In the same year, the Turlisk magazine Gül_Diken published a special issue entirely dedicated to Turan Selçuk and his work. In 152 pages all in English, this monograph is quite detailed: excellent articles with cartoons and photos, bio & bibliography.

In 2003, to celebrate Tuhran’s gold jubilee (60 years career!), Cumhuriet published a big book: 300 (large) pages with many many cartoons and some photos too.

The first personal exhibition of Turhan works took place at Istanbul in 1951. All long his life many other exhibitions were presented. The art critic of the New York Herald Tribune wrote in 1956: “The aim of contemporary humor is not to be funny. Italians critics place the works of Turkish cartoonists among the best examples of the modern approach to humor. Turhan Selçuk is a Turkish artist and a cartoon of his on display at this exhibition is one of the finest examples of this approach. In this cartoon, a skin-diver who is spear-fishing under the water is taking aim at a duck swimming on the surface. Imagine how surprised the duck would be if it were to shot in this way: it is just this surprise that is the humorous element of this cartoon.”
In 1962, the Turkish author and journalist Abdi İpekçi wrote: “Turhan Selçuk has courageously embraced the modern approach to cartooning. No one thought he would be able to overcome the facile market mentality that prevailed in Turkey; no one believed he would be able to gain appreciation for “graphic humor”. But he did. He applied all the innovations that modern approach to cartooning demanded of drawing, subject, and style and achieved great popularity and recognition.”

The eminent cartoon historian and Italian cartoonist Gec [Enrico Gianeri] wrote in 1970: “The beauty and grace that imbue the drawings of Turhan Selçuk, the most famous of Turkish cartoonists, are perhaps not to be found in the work of any other cartoonist in the world. The combination of the mystic lines of the Orient with a satirical content that is thoroughly modern gives his work an international flavor. This is why Turhan Selçuk’s cartoons do not need to be captioned and why, indeed, some of them seem to look at us as if to say “Why don’t you get rid of this caption and let us take care of ourselves?” It’s as if they’re speaking Esperanto. Just as the movies of Lyda Borelli and the Collo Capozzi Alberti brothers need no sound, so too are the cartoons of Turhan Selçuk in no need of writing in order to look at them. The revolution that Turhan Selçuk has wrought has made him the Bakunin of Turkish cartooning, to which he has given a new direction. He has altered the direction given to Turkish art by Cem, Rıkfı, and Sedat Nuri, breaking the bonds of tradition, renewing it, and forcing it into the contemporary mainstream. The modernization that was rather timidly attempted by the well-known cartoonist Ramiz was brought off and perfected by Turhan. With him, there opened up a new artery – a new mode of expression. Imagine a style of cartooning whose power of synthesis is at the level of Olaf Gulbransson but which leaves a flavor reminiscent of Japan’s Hokusai and you will have the cartoons of Turhan Selçuk.”

In 1992, his 50th jubilee was celebrated by an exhibition in Istanbul. The same year an exhibition of his works entitled “Human Rights” toured several major European cities (at the Council of Europe in Strasburg and Izmir first); then Nurnberg, Dortmund, Duisburg, Stuttgart, Manheim, Munich.

In 1993 the exhibition was shown in Paris and Leipzig,

Shot at Paris, from left to right: French cartoonists: Mofrey, Solo, Gus, and Turhan.
In 1994 the exhibition travelled to Rotterdam, Skopje and Nicosia, then to Frankfurt and continued to other countries, up to South Africa in 1997.

At the end of this article, I wish to express all cartoonists and the Turkish people my sincere condolences.
J-M Bertin.

Learn more:
Cartoonbook files and links(click to enlarge):

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Contemporary cartoon in China - part 4

Article by JMB

The Middle’s Empire and recent China

Although Ding Cong is a famous Chinese cartoonist, these two books’ drawings are not exactly cartoons. Every drawing is an illustration of a joke in a short story. Each story is humorous or/ and witty and this is why this book is not out of place in a cartoon books collection.

This first book is about everyday life in old traditional China

This other book is about everyday life in modern China
(“modern” means the 20 years after the Cultural Revolution)

At the end of this presentation, I would like to openly express my huge thanks to my friend Toshiko Nishida, brilliant Japanese cartoonist, and to her husband too, who are my kind donators of so many cartoon books from Asia.

Jean-Marie Bertin

Cartoonbook files and links: (click to enlarge)

Learn more - go to:

Contemporary cartoon in China (part 4)