Yakup Cem was born in Tabriz, Iran, in 1948. While still in primary school, he showed unusual skill in classical miniature painting and was advised to continue. At the age of thirteen, he joined a locally prestigious miniature competition and won first prize, a tradition he continued in subsequent years. In1996, he was invited to Tehran by the Minister of Education and was given a grant study with the painter, Huseyin Islamiyan. It is a testament to Mr. Cem's artistic talent that, without any formal training, he became an accomplished and successful painter both in the miniature and in the western tradition.
Mr. Cem's skill is manifested in several different mediums. His miniatures are finely done and distinguished by a light, almost playful, touch. His miniature style has a vibrant, energetic quality that is not essentially characteristic of the genre. To his oil paintings, he brings a gentle stillness reminiscent of traditional miniatures. The beauty of Mr. Cem's work is that whatever tradition he adopts, eastern or western, a harmonious and lyrical combination results.