From mechanical design to surrealism: the journey of a Turkish painter in Canterbury

Kenan tells me he is currently doing stress analysis on the Vietnam Gate panel and sends me a graph, saturated with colour and full of tiny little structures (the meaning of which is beyond my expertise, but it looks very impressive).

Originally from a Turkish family, he was encouraged to study mechanical technology at a college in Ankara, and has since immigrated to the UK and travelled the world in his role as a draughtsman and project co-ordinator in East Kent. 

But for the past eight years, Kenan has lived in Canterbury and has been quietly creating surrealist art in his spare time.

Do you have a story in mind when you paint a picture?

Sometimes I create a story in mind when I paint. Sometimes it’s a random improvisation from a simple perspective.

In general, I like to create art that expresses a connection between humans and the earth. I also like observing the environment. I often contrast one object to different scenery with a different scale. For example, here is the story of a sandal, from Guatemala to Montenegro.
The following photo was taken in Guatemala, El Canada HEPP near the town of Zunil.

A lost baby sandal in a deadly, polluted river. I didn’t know who owned this sandal, but I wanted to capture that image in my painting to keep it alive. Following Guatemala, I went to Serbia – and I saw a coal factory from the aeroplane.  And finally, I arrived in Montenegro.

I took several objects from my observations to Budva sea landscape. It might be a bit of an absurd composition, but this is how it becomes surreal.

Have you ever held an exhibition of your work?

Once I sent my work to London Royal Academy. But they rejected my paintings. I guess it was a bit out of their remit.

What artists inspire you?

I always liked Salvador Dali. However, I have been inspired by Bosch’s most famous work, the “Garden of Earthly Delights.” I think this masterpiece is the powerful influence behind dreamy landscapes that I wanted to create. I like Marc Chagall when it comes to his use of colours.

How long have you lived in Canterbury, and how does it influence your work (if at all)?

I have lived in Canterbury since 2010, so that makes it 8 years! Canterbury has been a very positive influence, especially because of its weather! I had a little bit more free time, so I wanted to start painting again after 6-7 years of discontinuation. In the winter of 2010, I wanted to make just a few paintings to test my ability. But I haven’t stopped painting yet because people like my works and that is very encouraging.





Follow Kenan on Instagram at @Ken4nart or contact him at





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