Before Contemporary Istanbul opens to the public this Thursday, discover the most popular artists during Artsy’s fair preview. Below, Istanbul-based art advisor Melis Terzioglu—seasoned by years of working in nonprofit institutions and galleries in Turkey—shares her insights around the ten artists at the top.
It gives me great pleasure to see Ali Emir Tapan on top of Artsy’s trending artists list. He is a young artist whose works have such varied inspirational sources as music, cinema, literature, and philosophy. His artistic practice is highly conceptual, giving birth to hauntingly beautiful works. Tapan is definitely not afraid of working with a great array of media, which enriches his art immensely. Whether working with blown-glass or aluminum panels or photography, he puts great effort into the process of creation, imagining every single detail of the end result and controlling it as much as possible. His works often embody a lot of tension and contrast where one can always find beauty in destruction, pleasure in violence, or eeriness in calm. These tensions add depth to his art and the viewer cannot help but be bedazzled by their perfection. Definitely a go-get-it name while his prices are still in a very affordable range.
Witty and satirical are probably the two words that best describe Abelow’s works. It is always refreshing to see artists who are taking art as “lightly” as possible without falling into the trap of being banal or caricature-like. The Turkish public loves works that have humor in them, that they can walk away from with a smile on their face, and Abelow’s geometric and text-based works at Mixer’s booth are sure to do that.
3. Can Akgümüş
Can Akgümüş is an artist under 30 whose name I am not very familiar with, though I do recall seeing a couple of his rather socially critical photos in a group show. It’ll be interesting to see his how his “Memory of the Mirror” series will do at a fair where the medium of photography is always an underdog.
4. Oniz Mansiz
There is no denying that hyperrealist paintings are a definite crowd-pleaser. And Onur Mansiz’s large-scale works are sure to deliver. His first solo show “Tragedy” at art ON Istanbul really enchanted viewers last summer; ghostly portraits of fragile bodies acted as passageways into the darker realms of the mind and soul. It is always challenging and takes courage to find a unique voice in the domain of hyperrealist painting; Mansiz is making his way slowly but surely in that arena.
Since I’ve just stated above that hyperrealism draws in crowds, it is not at all surprising to see Carole A. Feuerman’s hyperrealist sculptures making it onto the trending list. Aria Art Gallery dedicated an entire booth to her swimmers last year at Contemporary Istanbul’s 8th edition and it turned out to be a huge success. The fact that the same gallery is back with more works by Feuerman affirms last year’s success. It is always good to see international galleries and names doing well at the fair and parting happily from it.
Mustafa Albayrak is a name I am hearing for the first time through Artsy. I am always excited to discover new local names. And it is great that Artnivo, a recently founded online platform/gallery for contemporary art, is drawing this much attention with two of their artists making it to the top 10 list.
7. Ahmet Oran
Although Ahmet Oran’s artistic career spans over three decades, it is really during the past ten years that he’s made himself a household name among art aficionados. Oran has firmly placed and confirmed his name over and over through a constant production of good quality abstract works. His work has evolved from more monochromic pieces on paper and canvas to large-scale colorful paintings on canvas. His labor-intensive, multi-layered paintings, where the play of light meets color, are consistently a hit at each fair, and it will not be surprising to see the same happening at this year’s edition.
8. Iñigo Arregi
This is another case where an international gallery returned to the fair with an artist they showcased last year, proving that they were content with the general interest received. Spanish artist Arregi’s sculptural paintings put as much emphasis on constructing as on deconstructing, on what’s present as well as what’s absent. It is always great to see works from older generations receiving praise from the fair-goers, when a lot of times the hype seems to concentrate on younger production.
Portraits, although they have a long-standing tradition and indisputable reputation in the history of art, are quite often not as popular—especially when they are at the huge scale that Cabellut paints. Artsy’s trending names prove that their popularity still holds strong. The fact that Cabellut, although Spanish by birth, chose to keep with tradition of the Dutch Old Masters goes to show that there is still so much that the famous Dutch light can offer. And it is great that Opera Gallery, with whom she is showing, can now easily be considered a regular at Contemporary Istanbul.
10. Olcay Kus
Olcay Kus, another artist under 30 with two solo shows already under his belt, creates canvases that are mostly street art inspired. The fact that he is trending along with another under-30 name goes to show that the public is really beginning to take interest in artists who are newly emerging in the market. It is always inspiring to see young and lesser–known names get this kind of support from the public.