Turkish Kara Mizah – Black Comedy

Enter the world of Selcuk Demirel - Turkey's premier cartoonist.

Turkey has a long tradition of using black comedy or satire, known as Turkish kara mizah, to express opinions not readily sanctioned by those in power. Generally it is concerned with serious topics such as murder, death, illness, politics and war. As with most forms of satire it operates on two levels. The obvious message appears innocent enough, but is always underscored by another meaning, often ironic in form. It occurs in many art forms such as music, film, verse or fiction but the most accessible form is cartoons. One of the most famous of the many Turkish kara mizah  cartoonists is the internationally renowned Selçuk Demirel.

Demirel was born in Artvin in 1954 and began publishing his illustrations when he was still in high school. Although he went on to study architecture, he continued drawing and his works appeared in prominent dailies such as Cumhuriyet and Politika. In 1978, he moved to Paris and today his illustrations have been published not only in numerous Turkish newspapers, but also in Le Monde and many other French periodicals. In addition, his works have appeared in newspapers in Switzerland, Italy, Britain and the United States. He has had numerous solo exhibitions and produced illustrated children’s books as well as collaborated with art critic, novelist, painter and poet John Berger.

Here is a small selection of works by Selçuk Demirel.

Cultural imperialismModern brainstorming

No comment Culture in a can

The pen is mightierFreedom of speech Read my lips

For more information on the art of kara mizah and to see work by other Turkish cartoonists click here. If you’re in Istanbul the museum is well worth a visit.

Share Button

About Goreme1990

I’m Lisa Morrow, the person behind www.insideoutinistanbul.com. I was born in Sydney, Australia and grew up a leafy middle class North Shore suburb. After finishing high school I went to Sydney University but failed to find my niche. After working as a public servant, cleaner, sales assistant, waitress, bar maid and car counter, I went overseas. Once there I hitchhiked through the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. My three months stay in the small central Anatolian village of Göreme changed my life. On my return to Australia I earned a BA Honours Degree in Sociology from Macquarie University. An academic career beckoned but the call to travel was louder. After several false starts I moved to Turkey and lived there for ten years. In 2017 I moved to Lisbon, Portugal, but continue to travel regularly to Istanbul. In addition to my blog I've written a travel narrative memoir called "Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom: Adrift in Istanbul" and two collections of essays, "Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City" and "Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries". I have a regular segment on San Francisco Turkish radio and in early 2017 I released an audio walking tour called "Stepping back through Chalcedon: Kadikoy Walk", through VoiceMap. In addition I write for various international and Australian magazines and websites, as well as for this blog. A full list of my published articles, with links, can be found on the Writing on Turkey and Writing Beyond Turkey pages.
This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, Culture & Tradition, History & Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Turkish Kara Mizah – Black Comedy

  1. Goreme1990 says:

    Yes, their work is really important and you’re right about there being so much to do in Istanbul and too little time. Visiting everything I’m interested in is like a full-time job!

  2. Cartoonists’ work is so important. Think we need to make sure we visit this museum next time we’re in Istanbul. Always so much to do when we’re there…and never enough days.

  3. Brian Mooy says:

    I like the pencils, a very sharp comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *