Untitled is an extremely important, epochal work by Mubin. During the 1950s and 1960s, Mubin was a leading figure among Paris-based Turkish artists which included Hakki Anli, Avni Arbas, Albert Bitran, Nejad Devrim, Abidin Dino, Tiraje Dikmen, Selim Turan, Fahrelnissa Zeid and Semiramis Zorlu. The Post-war Parisian art scene was divided and complex in which a great number of artists' existence depended on an international network of friendships and allegiances. The main movements of the period were Abstraction, Lyrical Abstraction and Tachism; but the boundaries among them were rather blurred.
Mubin was born in Istanbul in 1924 and studied political science at the University of Ankara. In 1948, shortly after arriving in Paris to embark on a PhD in economics, he abandoned his studies and began an artistic career. His early works reflect the influences of Geometrical Abstraction and The Abstraction-Création Group; however, later on by inventing new forms, he tried to develop an independent, personal style along the lines of Lyrical Abstraction.
The next key moment in the evolution of his oeuvre was to come on one of his visits to Paul Gauguin's old studio on Rue de la Grande Chaumière, where he met the French painter Charles Maussion. Maussion and Mubin's discussions on art were extremely valuable to him and Maussion and Selim Turan (Lots 67, 85) were to introduce Mubin to the new movements and styles of the period. Mubin very quickly entered the Parisian art scene, becoming close friends with artists, especially the ones represented by the legendary Iris Clert Gallery, which staged two very successful solo shows of Mubin's works in 1956 and 1957. He also took part in numerous exhibitions at Salon des Réalités Nouvelles and Salon de Mai, which rapidly advanced his popularity.
Towards the end of the 1950s, Mubin experimented with the effect of contrasting colours on a canvas in his semi-abstract compositions, painted in sepia tones with dynamic movements. In early 1960s, as Iris Clert became increasingly focused on the Nouveaux Réaliste artists Yves Klein, Arman and Jean Tinguely, she was advised to abandon her former protégés like Mubin and Tsingos (Iris Clert, iris.time, l'artventure, Paris 1978, pp. 117-129). After leaving her gallery, Mubin began to develop an innovative style which revealed a mystical world in each painting. He became acquainted with a new circle of friends including the art critic Raoul-Jean Moulin, sculptor César, art dealers Lucien Durand, Daniel Gervis and Marcel Zerbib as well as collectors Sir Robert and Lady Lisa Sainsbury, who went on to become his patrons. His solo exhibitions at Galerie Diderot and Galerie Lucien Durand further established his position in Lyrical Abstraction as the artist eventually settled with this new form of artistic language.
Untitled, produced in 1963 as part of Hommage à Delacroix Series is an exquisite example from this unique period. The composition is made up of intense areas of warm tones, in breathtaking whirls of greens, blues and reds, against a white background, producing a dramatic yet harmonious contrast. The work maintains its balance by the subtle use of the brush, what the French call "un dripping", in the manner of Jackson Pollock. These soft but dynamic brushstrokes evoke strong emotions and a sense of cosmic energy. The influence of Sam Francis, Camille Bryen and Charles Maussion is unmistakeable in this work; consequently Mubin's paintings were often exhibited with theirs at various shows. Mubin, however, was not a supporter of a subconscious, gestural painting style. On the contrary, the structuring of this energetic composition was the result of much contemplation.
With an impeccable provenance, Untitled is a magnificent example of Mubin's work from this period.
This catalogue note was written by Dr. Necmi Sonmez, an independent curator and art historian. He is the author of two catalogues on Mubin Orhon (Exhibition Catalogue, Istanbul, Yapi Kredi Kultur Merkezi, Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, 1996 and Necmi Sonmez, Mubin Orhon, Istanbul 2001).
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