Born in Nişantaşı, Istanbul, Eşref Üren was the grandson of İsmet Bey, a close friend of Sultan Abdülhamid, and the son of the Galatasaray Guard Fehim Paşa. Until 1917, he studied between Istanbul and Bursa. He was still a student at the Bursa Agricultural School when he joined the First World War in 1917. After the war ended, he continued his education at the Agricultural School in Halkalı, Istanbul. He returned to Bursa in 1918 where he was influenced by İbrahim Çallı, who was painting there at the time. In 1921, he briefly attended painting lessons at the Academy of Fine Arts as a private student, and later attended Feyhaman Duran’s private studio. In 1925, he officially enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts, and studied under Hikmet Onat, Feyhaman Duran, İbrahim Çallı, and Hüseyin Avni Lifij. The same year, he took part in the 7th Galatasaray Exhibition, where he showed a painting for the first time. He went to Paris by his own means in 1928 and attended André Lhote’s studio, returning to Turkey in 1929. In 1930, he taught both painting and French at the Erzurum Teacher Training School. Around this time, his first essays and critiques were published in various newspapers and magazines. He joined the d Group in 1933. In 1934, he was appointed to the Sivas Teacher Training School. Remaining in Sivas until the end of 1938, Eşref Üren went to Paris for a second time that same year. He attended the studios of Othon Friesz and André Lhote, and returned to Turkey with the outbreak of the Second World War. In 1939, he was appointed to Ankara as a painting instructor. He opened his first personal exhibition in Istanbul in 1945. Despite retiring in 1955, he continued to work as a painting teacher as well as writing essays, critiques, and opinion pieces.
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