The art scene in Turkey, where local collectors love to support their own talent, is surprisingly robust. Thankfully there is a refreshing group of emerging artists in Turkey that are worth the investment, like young names Lara Ögel, Serra Tansel, and Elif Varol Ergen. Art publications such as Near East Istanbul, projects like the nomadic contemporary art museum Moving Museum, which is currently based in the capital, and of course the more established Contemporary Istanbul fair are also bringing waves of international curators, art students, and hot artists to the city. Here are five artists exhibiting at Contemporary Istanbul (CI) to whet your appetite.
Showing with Galerist at CI, Central St. Martin’s alumni and Istanbul native Ali Emir Tapan’s work ranges from performance pieces and videos to sculptural interventions, such as framed sheets of metal hit with gunfire that resemble beautifully twisted, abstract paintings. The photograph is central to Tapan’s practice, which explores accident and slippage. This includes strong chiaroscuro images of crushed cars to monochrome pieces of wild dogs.
The stylized faces and figures in Öztekin’s paintings, which are being shown at the respected gallery Rampa, have a touch of a cartoonish, lo-fi aesthetic. Yet the big-eyed paper characters of this artist equally bring to mind Ottoman art history. Öztekin is a member of art performance collective HA ZA VU ZU, who have shown at London’s Whitechapel Gallery and won the 2013 Multitude Art Prize at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing.
Political narratives and questions about documentary form inform the work of Cemil Batur Gökçeer, who is showing with The Empire Project at CI. The Ankara-born artist, who co-founded the artist-run space Torun in his hometown, is a self-taught photographer who imbues his medium with a dose of mystery. His work is often saturated with flashes of light, so figures depicted seem to fall apart within an image.
Kuş came from a street-art background, but the influence of the urban on his paintings is a long way from hip hop-heavy graffiti. Instead, there is a strong take on politics, news photography, psychology, and graphic imagery painted onto the grain and gruff of textured walls. The transitory nature of ephemeral art and politics is caught in these strong multimedia paintings, which can be found at art ON Istanbul at CI.
Buğdanoğlu, who is showing with Mixer at CI, comes from an illustrative background, having studied the form during his BA in Maryland. His mixed-media figurative paintings show how this background created a very, very capable draftsman. His work touches on passive and active participation with images of gothic birds and wolves, and urban architectural landscapes.