Nude Paintings Taken Down at Turkey State Art Gallery
Turkish officials have taken down an exhibition of paintings of nude women at a state art gallery, a trade union activist said Wednesday, condemning the move as censorship.
The show of 29 oil paintings by prolific Turkish artist and teacher Emin Guloren was due to run in the State Fine Arts Gallery in the northwestern city of Eskisehir for 10 days but was closed down earlier this week, a union official said.
"When the artist's students entered the gallery to see the exhibition on Monday, they saw the paintings of the nudes had been taken down and were lying face-down on the floor," said Ali Pasa Sanli, head of the Education Union in Eskisehir.
"We consider this as censorship," Sanli told Agence France Presse. "An artist has the freedom to express freely and this freedom cannot be restricted."
But an official from the Eskisehir Culture Directorate denied censorship, saying the paintings on show did not match those on a CD that the artist had sent to the body ahead of the exhibition which was due to run from December 15 to 24.
"It has nothing to do with nude paintings which have been displayed several times in the past in the art gallery."
Guloren, who has staged about two dozen solo exhibitions in the past, declined to comment, saying only that the union was speaking on his behalf.
Turkey's Islamic-rooted government is often accused by its secular opponents of seeking to Islamise the predominantly Muslim but staunchly secular country.
In January, an art exhibition was cancelled by organizers after officials in the western city of Izmir demanded the removal of photographs that sparked outrage in the conservative media for insulting religious and moral values.
They included pictures showing two headscarf-wearing women kissing each other, two men kissing each other and a woman in a headscarf and just a bikini.
Last year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan branded as "monstrous" a giant statue symbolizing reconciliation between Turks and Armenians and called for its demolition.
Erdogan said the unfinished statue in the eastern province of Kars was out of place in a region known for its centuries-old Islamic-inspired monuments.
The 30-meter (100-foot) concrete statue, depicting two figures emerging from one human shape, was commissioned in 2006 to highlight friendship between Turkey and Armenia which have a history of enmity and suspicion.
It was dismantled and removed in August 2011.