Impressions: on Contemporary Istanbul 2015
Contemporary Istanbul, one of Turkey’s prominent contemporary art fairs that gradually attracts more visitors since its foundation in 2006, proves to be successful, this year, at strengthening its international identity. Open to visit on November 12-15, the fair host 102 galleries from 24 countries and more than 700 artworks. In addition to the diversity of participant galleries, artists and artworks, simultaneous scheduling of panel discussions and video screenings contribute into a satisfying fair experience, especially for collectors.
On the other hand, and no surprise in a fair organization in contrast to thematic exhibitions and biennales, Contemporary Istanbul does not allow for a thinking exercise on the diversity it presents, apart from being willing to accentuate its international character. For example, there are 6 galleries from Tehran in the Focus section, presented to be focusing on Iranian modern art, and 12 pieces from Mobarqa Collection, owned by the Iranian collector, Nadeer Mobarqa, are introduced to viewers. The excitement that derives from having the opportunity to see certain works from Iranian modern art, even if they are promoted by collectors, fades away due to realizing how art market overwhelms art per se in fair meetings. There is no information about Iran’s recent history and social framework that we can expect to be giving substance, motivation and direction to contemporary art of Iran. If you miss the panel that is scheduled on the third day of the fair, titled Contemporary Iranian Art, you would find it hard to obtain any information except the prices of the artworks.
If I put aside this common feature of art fairs –aiming at bringing together galleries and collectors rather than artists and artlovers- I left Contemporary Istanbul satisfied for the chance it gave to visit diverse and highly impressive works of art. My favorite gallery was Galeri 77 that exhibited pieces by modern artists from Armenia. Astonishingly original surreal figues of Armen Gevorgian, ironic style of Daron Mouradian by which he caricatures power and wealth, and the narratives of ‘‘East’’ by Emil Kazaz that he creates under the light and darkness of modern Spanish painting worth watching for minutes.
The Parade, Armen Gevorgian, Galeri 77
Portrait III, Daron Mouradian, Galeri 77
The other paintings that made me say ‘‘if only I could take this home’’ were the amazing representation of New York, Undressed 95 by Antonio Sannino, and those of Juan Genovés on which he dispersed bird’s-eye view colorful human figures, each of which he created by brushstrokes with intensive paint. We found the opportunity to chat with Sannino, that might indeed have been one to negotiate over the price, 10.000 Euro, of the painting; though, we left this part to collectors. I should confess that my admiration for the pieces of Genovés, by which he examines the notions of individual and the crowd, has been increased when I subsequently learned that he had been an active resistant against the Franco regime in Spain.
The most terrifying work of the fair is Bahadır Baruter’s Mukadderat [Fate], I suppose. Positioned within fishbowls, weird human fetuses that got old prior to birth frighten, unsettle and call the on-looker to imagine a dystopic future of humanity.
The hyper-realistic sculptures of swimmers by Carole Feuerman are absolutely over-real to make us think that they would suddenly turn lively and begin wandering around.
Butterfly Capri, Carole Feuerman, Aria Art Gallery
Kissing Coppers by dear Banksy, whom I frequently mention, is on display thanks to Lazarides Gallery from Britain.
Kissing Coppers, Banksy, Lazarides
Village, photograph taken and signed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan can be seen at Dirimart gallery’s space. Good news to his funs: It worth 74.000 Turkish liras!
Köy, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Dirimart
Lastly I would like to express my congratulations to Yiğit Dündar for his charming painting, Enlightenment, on which he depicts aesthetic woman bodies with a baroque style of movement over a bright and uplifting background. I hope Yiğit, a Gallerymak.com artist at the same time, whom we know to be an extremely friendly and nice person, has received the interest he deserves for the painting Armaggan Gallery put into exhibition.
Aydınlanma, Yiğit Dündar, Armaggan Gallery
So these are my impressions on Contemporary Istanbul 2015. We are looking forward the next time it will be held to meet artists from Turkey and all over the world with collectors and artlovers, and to bolster Istanbul’s position as a global center of modern art.