Painter (B. 1915, Istanbul – D. June 18th, 2005, Istanbul). His childhood passed by travelling in many cities of Anatolia due to his father’s service who was a health officer. He came to Istanbul after having finished primary school in Mardin and he continued his secondary education, which he started in Vefa High School, in Pertevniyal High School. In 1993, he entered the Istanbul Fine Arts Academy, of which the current name is Mimar Sinan University, with the support of Nazmi Ziya whom he was an admirer of his paintings.
He studied in the workshops of Nazmi Ziya, İbrahim Çallı and Hikmet Onat and he took courses from Leopold Levy. He graduated from the middle-level department of the academy in 1937 with sharing the first degree with Ragıp Gökcan. The artist, who entered the high level department of the academy, which was opened in 1940, and graduated from there four years later, founded the “Yeniler” Group with Kemal Sönmezler, Turgut Atalay, Selim Turan, Avni Arbas, Mümtaz Yener whom he was sharing his socialist-realist art approach. The movement lasted until 1951 by the participation of Abidin Dino, Faruk Morel, Agop Arad, Yusuf Karaçay in the group. Over time, there were breaks from the group. He made abstract compositions in geometric style in his studies that he started to carry out separately from the group after 1951. After 1966, he stood out with his portraits, in which he reflected his unique artistic personality in a narrative and figurative style. He worked as an assistant of Halil Dikmen at the Museum of Painting and Sculpture for a while.
He opened his first personal exhibition in a furnisher in 1946 in Beyoğlu. He applied wall paintings in Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul. He tended towards abstract painting in the 1950s. The artist, who had his signature on nearly six thousand paintings during his seventy two years of art life, was especially known with his sorrowful Anatolian women paintings. His art was apart from the academic centric approaches. He used the ecoles and streams that were assumed as opposites in combination in his art. Nuri İyem, whose nearly four thousands of works are in the hands of official collectors, was known by reflecting his landscape and portrait works, love of nature and longing for nature. He received the Painting Awards of the 50th Year of the Republic in 1973, the Sedat Simavi Visual Arts Award in 1989 and the TÜYAP Istanbul Art Fair Honor Award in 1997. He was buried in the Zincirlikuyu Cemetery after his death. He was married and had two children.
“The painting of Nuri İyem is a kind of painting style that has been improved by having greatly transformed during its long history of more than 70 years.
“While he addressed the abstract and figurative paintings as a style issue being in mutually exclusive contrast in the beginning, he tended towards a painting style which was aware of the artificiality of this contrast in the last years. İyem has been increasingly painting a thought tradition that integrates these two styles and going towards a synthesis where the figure overlaps with the abstract.
“İyem integrates the symbolic one with the representative one, the figure with the concept: He makes one comprehend the abstract and tangible indirectly at the same time.” (Hilmi Yavuz)