Eşref Armağan – A Blind Artist
I was catching up with my friend Jerry last night when he mentioned an outstanding artist, Esref Armagan, and the extraordinary element about this Turkish artist is his lack of sight. Quite controversial having a leading artist in the 21st century that’s blind, it gives the whole “Am not Handicapped – am Handicap-able” a new meaning.
Born blind to a Turkish family in 1953, Armağan was brought up among a poor and unprivileged family, hence he never received any schooling or training, but managed to teach himself how to write and paint, and according to his biography he has been “perfecting his art for the past thirty-five years”.
“He needs absolute quiet when working. First, using a Braille stylus, he etches an outline of his drawing. He needs to feel that he is “inside” his painting – for example, when he is drawing a picture of the sea, he often wonders if he should wear a life jacket so as not to drown. When he is satisfied with his drawing, he starts to apply the oils with his fingers. Because he applies only one color at a time (the colors would smear otherwise), he must wait two or three days for the color to dry before applying the next color. This method of painting is entirely unique to Mr. Armagan. He receives no assistance or training from any individual.”
Many might wonder, if the people with sight aren’t talented to draw (most of them at least) how can a blind person who has never seen the sky, the sea, birds, or even colors draw and create astonishing paintings and art that impress the world? I had always thought of pictures as copies of the visible world. After all, we do not draw sounds, tastes or smells; we draw what we see. Thus, I had assumed that blind people would have little interest or talent in creating images.
Blind artists like Armagan rely on their sense of touch to render familiar objects. By rubbing the paper, placed on a piece of felt, she knows where her pen has scored the page and left a mark. Because the lines in most simple drawings reveal surface edges—features that are discerned by touching as readily as they are by sight—drawings by the blind are easily recognized by sighted people. Amazing don’t you think?
So the next time you think you can’t do it, or something is to hard, or that the odd’s are always against you, if a blind person can draw, if a deaf person can compose music, then you’re pretty much capable of doing whatever it is, as long as you have some willpower and most importantly a pinch of faith in yourself.
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