In this special feature, we ask gallerists at the Contemporary Istanbul 2019 to choose a single artwork from their booths and share the story behind it.
Ramazan Can’s “Hep Yarını Bekledi/Waited For Tomorrow” makes a connection between past and modern-day while comparing the modern and primitive eras. He offers that problems of the modern day could be solved through primitive era methods, which adds a humorous aspect to this work.
Ferhat Yeter – Director of Anna Laudel.
The Surface of Life
Have you ever looked at the pockmarks in the floor of an artists’ studio, factory or maybe even in your own shed? Chrisél Attewell did. She loves to look at surfaces and investigate how they came about. This time she cast the potholes in bronze and, when I looked at them for the first time, I couldn’t quite make out what it was. The work became a whole new story in itself, which triggered my imagination and made me more aware of the intricate textures found around me, on buildings, construction sites and everyday household surfaces.
Els van Mourik – Senior Curator Berman Contemporary
We chose this particular artwork because of what it represents. In his works Sidar Baki tries to voice his interaction with his environment and circumstances and states that his topics are shaped by the events he encountered after he became a teacher. Baki who likes to paint the effects his environment has on him, expresses himself by placing children in this environment.
He brings the children to the spotlights from within the congested, restrictive, chaotic, reinforced concrete and insulating spaces. These children who are playing on their own are separated from the environment. Even though the image that is established between the spaces and the children is actually a child on his/her own, a reference is made to the human being who is lonely, stationary, lost and abandoned. These emotions are emotions that we can all relate to in this period.
For a recent show in Marseille, Louise Sartor and Naoki Sutter-Shudo both made portraits of friends and views of buildings. Painted or photographed, the people and places that are represented each first struck them with their respective beauties, but are also infused by the subjective relationship they have with them. Depicted on strange surfaces, Louise captured images in those paroxysmal moments when a great silence takes place, when life suspends itself for a moment before it begins again. It is also the first time that familiar faces have appeared in her iconography, as in this frontal piece, almost classical but in a weird way…
Seçkin Pirim’s Birds on Wires is a raw and elegant rendering of his impressions of the Leonard Cohen composition, Bird on the Wire. Originating with approximately 20,000 uniquely laser cut pieces of 300 gr. Bristol paper, Pirim hand-tears the edges of each sheet before meticulously assembling them together, one by one. His work elevates the medium of paper to a new plane of sculptural complexity, while his minimal aesthetic offers a potent outlet for his decidedly obsessive process. The result is a direct and curious abstraction of birds and sound waves that stimulates the imagination, while calming the eye with zen-like repetition in a topographic form.
This is the first work that I chose to present at Contemporary Istanbul because of its symbolic power. This work brings together the imprints of the four most popular prayers in the world: Buddhist, Muslim, Christian and Jewish. It’s a tribute to beliefs and faith, while respecting those of everyone.
Art is a way of expression, and in my opinion, it’s important if we can bring a message through it. With Universal Prior, Pauline Guerrier exposes a beautiful message of unity, in the respect of cultures.
Galeri 77 will be presenting new works of artists from previous years, Sedat Girgin, Vav Hakobyan, Rafael Megall, Daron Mouradian, Mikayel Ohanjanyan, Armén Rotch and Kirkor Sahakoglu as well as presenting exquisite works by Jacques Aslanian, Narek Arzoumanyan, Roman Babakhanian, and Hamlet Hovsepian for the first time.
This artwork is an impressive piece by Berlin painter Christian Awe. Compositions of matt and glossy layers make it look as if real drops are moistening the canvas. One is tempted to touch the work, in order to grasp the boundaries between imagination and reality. Gestural splatters break up dynamic streams of colour that gush out over simulating water textures, giving the work its energy and lightness. The work allows us to immerse ourselves in a unique depth of space and embolden us to embark on a journey that, time after time, enables us to see and sense the new and surprising. It’s incredibly fascinating, just like a view into the clouds.
Georg Kargl Fine Arts
Galerie Georg Kargl is prominently showing the work of Finnish artist Sanna Kannisto (* 1974, Helsinki) at this year’s CI’19 amongst works by Mark Dion (*1961, US), Andreas Fogarasi (*1977, AT) and Jitka Hanzlova (*1958, CZ). In her photography Sanna Kannisto explores the theories and concepts with which we approach nature in art and science. Her characteristic photographic works were made during numerous stays in Peru, French Guiana, Brazil, and Costa Rica. Plants and animals are studied, staged, and photographed in stage-like portable “field studios”. The series “act of flying”, (2005) probes the means of photography in two significant ways: the Hummingbird challenges the framing as well as the speed of the production of the image. Kannisto tests photography’s ability to faithfully reproduce the tones of the tiny wings, even if the wing strokes and flight patterns are mapped against the invisible coordinates of a white space, which in turn offers the bird full attention. Studies of motion hold an important place in the history of photography as images that reveal things which ordinary sight could not perceive.
Combining traditional miniature techniques, such as gouache, gold and silver leaf on wasli paper, with genuine experimental techniques, Waseem Ahmed (Pakistan, 1976) creates finely rendered small and large scale works that address various social, political and cultural issues. Crossing cultural borders, his rich vocabulary borrows elements from Asian and European art history and mythology. His eclectic repertoire of images creates multiple layers of meaning that are often in contrast with the esthetic appeal of his paintings. Ahmed’s thought-provoking works depict the turbulent time, characterized by conflict and violence, faced today by both Eastern and Western societies.
Untitled, 2019, refers to classic representations of the Canaanite Baal God, god of war and fertility, whose worship infiltrated various other religions, such as Jewish, Egyptian and Greek. The line figures represent children. This work is a sort of wish or prayer: may God protect children from violence, abuse and war.
Behind this painting is the idea of looking at children, as the future of mankind, with a wish that transcends any cultural, political or religious frontier.
“Chiachio & Giannone is one of the most renowned artistic duos in the contemporary art scene world-wide. Their oeuvre addresses and celebrates diversity, not only in terms of sexual identities but all the different diversities that are helping create a freer and fairer society.”
I would like to highlight this attached work by Thea Gvetadze.
“Helen Khal, a major artist and founding member of the first art gallery in Beirut in the 60s, interviewed her friend Madi in 2003. As an introduction to the interview transcript, here is what she took out of her discussions with Madi: First Hussein Madi ‘s creative intention is to produce art based on what he intuitely perceives as the divine structured order of the universe. Second, he approaches his art with the curiosity and playfulness of a child, as well as with the knowledge and wisdom of experience. Third, he wants to paint the eternal unity and joy of life that is God’s legacy to us.”
Mojtaba Amini’s work is typically at the intersection of sculpting, installation, drawing, and painting. His assemblages are protruding, coarse, and crude images that are hanging on the border of drawing and painting. The backdrops are remnants of consumed packages, in which images are replaced by words that entail messages and are suggestive of advertising posters for labor parties. The hats and clothes that these faceless figures are wearing are encoded with references to the working classes. In this assemblage series, Amini represents and commemorates forgotten laborers who have sought justice and protested.
Gulay Semercioglu’s work Mediterranean evokes the geographical-cultural position of Contemporary Istanbul. The work is inspired by traditional Turkish tile art. A motif from Seljuk and Ottoman stylized tiles is reinterpreted with wire weaving, a technique identified with the artist. According to a legend about the traditional tile art, a woman believed to have mystical powers enchants the village people with her pottery. The villagers who follow the woman secretly learn that the woman use a special mud, from Kutahya city. Tile wall coverings, its motifs and vivid colors, frequently used in Ottoman buildings, have influenced Gulay Semercioglu since her childhood. Thus, the artwork is inspired by tile practice, a Mediterranean art and meets nature, geometry and light.
Colonized is a series of women’s old portraits.
The main goal of this artistic proposal is to ennoble women’s role as an essential part of humankind history.
Transphotography is a mixed technique that uses simple materials, like watercolor paper, ink, glue and rubber. By manipulating all these materials, I obtain the textures and finishes that characterize my work. Only at the end of this long process I obtain my print, to which I transfer an image fragment, and which will be part of the collage and the final work.
Time is a key element in the transphotography process: The past is represented by old pictures; the present, with the digital and physical retouch when creating the work, and the future lies in the effect that it will cause in the viewer.
Berkay Tuncay’s Webcam Girls (2012-2015) at SANATORIUM’s CI’19 booth shows screenshot images of 100 webcam girls while they are touching their keyboards during their online shows. He freezes the moment that is the virtual intimacy; ultimate moment creates the connection between the girls doing the shows, and the viewers behind their screen. His approach questions the relation between human and the machine, also machine’s place between two (or many) people’s sexual encounters, without skin contact. Can we build a sensual place for ourselves while touching keyboards or while swiping on touch screens without our coexistence in real life? Tuncay’s practice examines the relationship between internet, and society. This approach is a part of SANATORIUM’s aim to search and provide a space for contemporary issues and emergencies.
For the last 4 years, we are participating to Contemporary Istanbul with Bahadır Çolak’s sculptures and the main reason why i love Çolak’s works is that the fullness-emptiness relationship between his works and space, with the audience and even with the work itself. The sculptures, which have a monumental posture, have a potential energy rather than a stability. Certainly, the subtle use of the material and the use of different materials in a unity takes the narrative to a different dimension. The subtext of Bahadır Çolak’s works often contains a criticism. I can easily say that his work ’Silent Universe’ is in a more important position than his other works in terms of the relationship he established with space. Since it is sending a panopticon through power and ideologic apparatus.
“We have chosen the painting Intimate Space #9 as part of the artist’s continuous series of work. The piece is very beautiful and the colors are very attractive. If you take a closer look at the details you will be surprised by the texture especially the spray stenciling the artist is using in most of her paintings. This particular painting tells the story of a family living in a refugee camp in Ramallah where the artist explores the topic of the sex life of couples living in such crowded and jampacked spaces that afford them almost no privacy or personal space. This privacy is especially difficult to achieve considering the large size of most Palestinian families and the cramped proximity in which neighbors and families live next to one another. ”
In Topkapi Palace, Istanbul there is a 16th-century panel by Shah Kulu. It was the Silk Road that enabled the exchange of people, of goods, in this case, pigments and porcelains, and of culture between the East and the West throughout centuries. The particular color of these drawings – reminiscent of cobalt on porcelain– connects them to Bingöl’s Hatayi, 2017 and to the traditional use of blue in the Ottoman ceramics. This tradition was highly influenced by the Chinese porcelain for which cobalt pigment used was imported from Persia in the first place, where Shah Kulu was also from.