Turkish officials have taken down paintings of nudes from the walls of a state art gallery, trade union activists said Wednesday, condemning the move as censorship.
But one official from the local culture directorate in the northwestern city of Eskisehir denied censorship. They had been taken down because they did not correspond to the list originally submitted by the Turkish artist for his show, said the official.
Ali Pasa Sanli, head of the Education Union (Egitim-Sen) in Eskisehir city, denounced the move.
"When the artists' students entered the gallery to see the exhibition on Monday, they saw the paintings of the nudes had been taken down and were lying face-down on the floor," he told AFP.
The artist, Emin Guloren, had received permission from the culture directorate to display his work at the State Fine Arts Gallery, Sanli said. But officials had given no reason for removing the paintings.
"We consider this as censorship," Sanli said.
"An artist has the freedom to express freely and this freedom cannot be restricted."
Sanli blamed staff at the Eskisehir Culture Directorate for taking off all nude paintings from the walls and closing the exhibition. It had been scheduled to run between December 15 and 24.
But one official from the directorate, who asked not to be named, told AFP that the paintings hung at the show did not match those on a CD the artist had sent to the directorate earlier.
"The artist gave us an incorrect list," said the official.
"It has nothing to do with nude paintings which have been displayed several times in the past in the art gallery."
The artist himself declined to comment when contacted by AFP, saying only that the union was speaking on his behalf.
Guloren, an art teacher, has organised several exhibitions of his paintings in the past.