Hedi Turki

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Hedi Turki (born 15 May 1922) is a Tunisian artist of Turkish origin. He is considered the pioneer of abstract painting in Tunisia and has been an influential member of the School of Tunis.[1] His younger brother is Zoubeir Turki.


Turki was born in 1922 in Tunis to a family of Turkish origin.[1] His grandfather, Hacı Hamid Semerci, immigrated from Turkey to Tunisia in 1870 as an Ottoman army major.[2] Turki attended his primary education from 1928 to 1936, then went to the Sadiki College, before going to the Lycée Carnot between 1936 and 1940. He abandoned his studies after the death of his father, Mustapha, in 1939, in order to support his family as he was the eldest of seven brothers. He worked in numerous odd jobs such as an apprentices tailor, clerk, and laborer in oil mill. He married Jamila Skhiri in 1948 after the death of his mother in 1945.[1]

He began to learned the principles of pictorial art, self-taught, and then joined the School of Tunis. In 1951 he completed a refresher course of two months in Paris at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere.[1] Then he obtained a scholarship for two years (1956-1657) at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. In 1959, he traveled for three months in the United States, where he discovered the abstract art at Columbia University. From 1963 to his retirement in 1985, he taught art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Tunis. He continued to travel and to study and work during his career, particularly in England (1971), Nigeria (1977) and the United States (1979).[1]

Turki was instrumental in the founding of the School of Tunis,[1] the establishment of the National Union of plastic and graphic arts of Tunisia, and the General Union of Arab Plastic Artists. His work has evolved over time, a nationalist vocation at first, usually figurative like most members of the School of Tunis, it is then influenced by Abstract Expressionism, influenced by his trip to the United States.[1] Two American painters influenced Turki: Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) and Mark Rothko (1913-1970). Nonetheless, Turki's abstract style is marked by a deep sense of Tunisia and a somewhat religious aspect, which distinguishes it from other artists of his time.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Toute la Tunisie. "Hédi Turki". Retrieved 2012-04-17. 
  2. ^ Today's Zaman. "Turks in northern Africa yearn for Ottoman ancestors". Retrieved 2012-03-18.