The 21st Aydın Doğan Award was granted to Turkish contemporary painter Neş’e Erdok on May 9 at a ceremony.
“Painters are not used to talking too much. Our art is a silent one. One needs to visit museums or exhibitions in order to hear its voice. Or they can be seen in houses of art lovers. This award is a very meaningful one in the last period of my life,” Erdok said during her speech at the ceremony.
The award ceremony was held at the Hilton Hotel Ballroom in Istanbul. Violinist Gamze Ergönül and pianist Melin Molla performed a mini concert to the guests, among whom were the founder and Honorary Chairman of the Aydın Doğan Foundation and the Honorary Chairman of Doğan Holding, Aydın Doğan; his wife Sema Doğan; Aydın Doğan Foundation and Doğan Online Executive Board President Hanzade Doğan Boyner; Doğan Holding Executive Board President Begümhan Doğan Faralyalı; Aydın Doğan Foundation Vice President and Doğan Holding Executive Board member Vuslat Doğan Sabancı; and her husband Ali Sabancı, along with many others.
A short film marking the 21st year of the Aydın Doğan Foundation was screened at the ceremony.
Delivering the opening speech, Boyner said, “We give the Aydın Doğan Award to Neş’e Erdok, who has had a pioneering role in the world of painting. Without her, we cannot document the history of painting. She brought the melancholic physiognomy of Anatolian people to the city, redefining the reality. The theme of Erdok’s painting is human; types of people are the axis of her art. With her works, Turkey proved its existence in humanity’s journey of civilizations.”
Boyner said she owed a debt of gratitude to Erdok. “Among us tonight we have artists who have supported the ‘Dad Send Me to School’ project. They did not leave us alone; most importantly our girls. Thanks to their support, we provided scholarship to hundreds of girls and built dormitories. I greet them with respect,” she said.
After Boyner’s speech, a short film on Erdok’s art life was screened. In her interview in the short film, Erdok explained how she started painting.
“A Fine Arts Academy graduate painting teacher in the Erzincan High School realized for the first time that I had talent. My brother was also interested in painting. I was looking from behind his shoulder when he was painting. My family did not want it but I suffered from a heavy typhoid after I graduated from high school. Then I think they thought that painting education was easy and let me take painting education to not get tired,” she said.
Erdok said her paintings were directly related to her life. “I did not paint very beautiful or well-situated people. They symbolize me. If not, I paint a cat; I paint myself as a cat. Painting is the reason for my being,” she said.
Following the speeches, Erdok received her award from Aydın Doğan and a monetary prize of 50,000 Turkish Liras.
Born in Istanbul in 1940, Erdok studied painting under Neşet Günal at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul.
Between 1965 and 1966, she studied Spanish language and literature as well as the history of Spanish civilization and art at the Escuela Eutral de Idromas and the Escuela Diplomética in Madrid.
She was subsequently sent to France by the Education Ministry for training to join the faculty of the State Academy of Fine Arts. Erdok learned painting, fresco and stained glass at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.
In 1974, her first detailed exhibition was held in Istanbul. Erdok received the title of professor in 1981.
Paintings by Erdok, who has participated in more than 100 joint exhibitions, can be found in private collections in Turkey and abroad.
The Aydın Doğan Award has been issued since the foundation’s establishment in 1996 and aims to encourage and reward individuals who have committed their careers to contributing to humanity in the fields of arts, science and culture.
To date, the award has been issued to individuals and institutions who have excelled in, or contributed significantly to, fields such as novel writing, social sciences and the humanities, visual arts, poetry, history, music, archaeology and architecture.
This year’s award category has been decided as painting.