Ekin Su Koç, Berlin Summer VI,Courtesy of the artist and Anna Laudel Gallery

The 16th edition of Contemporary Istanbul brought together more than 1200 art works of over 400 artists by 47 galleries and 11 cultural institutions, highlighting the dynamic contemporary art scene that has risen out of Istanbul in recent decades. History and contemporary art come together at one of Istanbul’s most important heritage sites, here are the highlights of the fair.

C24 Gallery

Marion Fink, They themselves had shaped the character of their shared experience., 2019. Monotype, oil colour and wax pastel on paper, 120 x 153 cm. Courtesy of C24 Gallery
Marion Fink, They themselves had shaped the character of their shared experience., 2019. Monotype, oil colour and wax pastel on paper, 120 x 153 cm. Courtesy of C24 Gallery

Potsdam and Berlin-based artist Marion Fink is known for her life-sized, colourful monotypes depicting young people in various states of connection and disconnection to the elements of the world around them. Her layered works probe the spheres of consciousness we create for ourselves in our own private worlds, an investigation that is surely in step with the personally curated environments many of us inhabit in today’s virtual, online culture. As part of a generation that was raised in the digital age, she has experienced, firsthand, the paradox of seemingly limitless access to information along with increasingly fragmented, competing perspectives, exacerbated by the harsh scrutiny of social media. The resulting feelings of isolation and dissociation from genuine, physical interactions form the foundation for Fink’s surreal portraits of young people, each living in their own parallel reality.

Anna Laudel

Ekin Su Koç, Berlin Summer, 2021. Collage on paper, Dia 80 cm. Courtesy of Anna Laudel
Ekin Su Koç, Berlin Summer, 2021. Collage on paper, Dia 80 cm. Courtesy of Anna Laudel

Ekin Su Koç’s work moves freely between a range of techniques. Spanning from collage on paper, paint on canvas and work on fabric. She uses mass culture images and traditional motives to refer to multicultural contrasts and creates a narrative that lets the viewer travel through time and space. oç uses elements and images that touch both personal and social references, regarding themes of migration, sense of belonging and body perception. Koç uses elements and images that touch both personal and social references, regarding themes of migration, sense of belonging and body perception.

Dirimart Gallery

Mevlana Lipp, Fertility, 2021. Wood, velvet, acrylic, ink, sand, aluminum stretcher, 120 x 90 cm. Courtesy of Dirimart Gallery
Mevlana Lipp, Fertility, 2021. Wood, velvet, acrylic, ink, sand, aluminum stretcher, 120 x 90 cm. Courtesy of Dirimart Gallery

Existing between painting and sculpture, Mevlana Lipp’s work explores the mysteries of the natural world through hybridisations of humans and plants. Central to Lipp’s practice is his ability to create otherworldly compositions that challenge the perception of space, exemplified by his use of velvet backgrounds that appear as bottomless voids, as well as the array of textures and contrasting radiant colours of his central forms. Lipp expands the physical presence of his work by punctuating the velvet with pieces of wood so that each painting protrudes from the wall as sculpture.

JD Malat Gallery

Kojo Marfo, Stranger#4, Courtesy of JD Malat Gallery
Kojo Marfo, Stranger#4, Courtesy of JD Malat Gallery

Kojo Marfo’s work seeks to re-establish the immense richness that is lacking in mainstream representations of African people. He hopes to explore a self-referential perspective of the Black image by creating figurative abstractions that showcase the beauty woven into Africa’s social and geographical fabric.

JD Malat Project

ha:ar, Impossible Sculpture No.23, 2021. Lightbox, 200 × 166 × 8 cm. Courtesy of JD Malat Project
ha:ar, Impossible Sculpture No.23, 2021. Lightbox, 200 × 166 × 8 cm. Courtesy of JD Malat Project

Based between Istanbul and New York, the duo ha:ar consists of the sculptor Hande Şekerciler and digital artist Arda Yalkın, They are pursuing a new form of expression by blending their individual practices. Both share an admiration for classical art works and new technology. They pride themselves in mastering a wide range of production methods ranging from traditional sculpture and painting, to digital video, animation, 3D modeling together with current mainstream media aesthetics. Overall their practice is informed by questions relating to the civilisation we create, the technology we produce, and conflicts we generate with our way of being

Galeri Nev İstanbul

Hale Tenger, Aphonia, 1990. Bronze, wood, 60 x 15 x 15 cm. Courtesy of Galeri Nev İstanbul
Hale Tenger, Aphonia, 1990. Bronze, wood, 60 x 15 x 15 cm. Courtesy of Galeri Nev İstanbul

Hale Tenger is primarily known for her immersive and sensuous installations based on an elaborate combination of diverse materials, audio, and video. Her wide range of production is inspired by historical, political, cultural, ecological and psychosocial references. Her work is characterised by prompting an intimate experience for individual viewers through connection of memory, space and time. Audio is frequently integrated into her videos and sound installations in various forms, either as original music, as narratives or arrangements of archival recordings. Tenger, occasionally incorporates voiced narrations into her works as fabulation devices delivering texts written by her, either in the form of prose or verse.

Art Refinery

Ahmet Güneştekin, Tradition Series 11, 2021. Mixed Media, 70 x 122 x 35 cm. Courtesy of Art Refinery
Ahmet Güneştekin, Tradition Series 11, 2021. Mixed Media, 70 x 122 x 35 cm. Courtesy of Art Refinery

For Ahmet Güneştekin, a self-taught artist, art is a passion which has driven him since his childhood. He left the town of Batman for Istanbul in 1991, but had to wait several years before he found his own style at the beginning of the 2000s. He then abandoned the figurative to launch himself into a “narrative abstraction”. This kind of production is loaded with the recollection of a vernacular art, the memory of motifs such as carpets, lamps, Ottoman copperware in which geometry is the leading force. Güneştekin uses a unique technique with an individual method and precision. After establishing a complex web of black acrylic paint, he fills each of the small spaces with a layer of oil paint, ranging from the light to the dark. Then, using a sort of pen with a rubber tip, he engraves into the paint, and writes as a calligrapher would on a book. He writes on his paintings by removing material, a principle which has more in common with sculpture than painting. Güneştekin’s works can be briefly described as the interpretation of the oral narratives, legends and mythology from Anatolian, Mesopotamian and Greek civilisations using free technique. He creates optical and vibrant works, with the solar disc as one of his occurring motifs. The figurative way of expression is present in all his oeuvres, even though in an abstract stylised way. In all his contemporaneous works, the characters, symbols and scenes are taken out of ancient times, and these characters are symbolic, woven into symbolic tales about the essential questions of mankind.

Pg Art Gallery

Ayşe Wilson, I’m Still Here, 2021. Acrylic on wallpaper, 102 x 150 cm. Courtesy of Pg Art Gallery
Ayşe Wilson, I’m Still Here, 2021. Acrylic on wallpaper, 102 x 150 cm. Courtesy of Pg Art Gallery

Ayse Wilson’s paintings and works on paper explore childhood experiences, nostalgia, and the unsettling transition from infancy to adolescence and adulthood. Inspired by found images, as well as her imagination, Wilson paints children with stylised, doll-like faces and dark pools for eyes, set against monochromatic backgrounds and seemingly suspended between states of innocence and experience.

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