Contemporary Istanbul took place recently, from the 7th-10th November. We were blown away by the works presented, but with such a great range to choose from, we thought it might be particularly interesting to look at the fair from a specific angle.
For this choice of favourite works, we’ve made our selection based on the way these artists have represented woman. Not all of these works necessarily aim to focus on woman as a subject matter, but rather they use representations of woman to convey other artistic messages.
Gözde Başkent, born in 1982 Ankara, graduated from Mimar Sinan University, Neş’e Erdok atelier, where she also completed her graduate studies in painting. She lives and works in Büyükada (the largest of the Princess Islands in İstanbul).
Gözde uses a pop-illustrational style to depict the disparity between human beings and nature. Her work mostly uses the female form to represent humanity, which presents a further angle of conflict between us and nature. Her work looks at the way that as civilisations progress, humans become further detached from nature; the traditional associations between woman and nature make this juxtaposition even more striking.
LA MACULEE CONCEPTION – MADONE RUINÉE
Born in Egypt before moving to France and studying at the National School of Arts in Nice, Yves Hayat is an artist who makes full use of the media and technology available to him.
With La Maculée Conception’, Yves Hayat takes one of the greatest icons of the modern age, Madonna, and uses her as a canvas to question the reality of symbolism. Using various images transposed onto the body of his Madonna figure, Hayat asks his viewers whether the body brings life to the images, or whether the images erase the body, making it nothing more than a backdrop. For this question of life versus art, it is poignant and relevant that he has chosen an icon famed for the act of creating life.
Drew Tal is an Israeli-born artist, who currently lives and works in New York. He has long been fascinated by the nuances and multiplicity of ethnicities, religions, and cultures that surround him. By combining photography and digital media, Drew creates stunningly hyper-real portraits.
The series ‘Worlds Apart’ focuses on women by exploring the traditional hijab (veil) and niqab traditionally worn by Islamic women. Without casting any judgements of his own, he opens up the controversial topic of the veiled woman. His portraits show women praying, meditating, celebrating and protesting, and they perfectly showcase the power of the gaze. He says of the project: “My aim is not to take a stance of critique of [the women's] situation. My lens acts as a mere unseen observer of these women’s lives: their celebrations and struggles, their sorrows and renewed hopes, their acceptance and, at times, their courageous heroism.”
Die 4 Grazien
aus Serie “Making out with Muses”, DIN3
The three graces of myth are Splendour, Mirth, and Good Cheer, but the quirky quartet, Die 4 Grazien (The 4 Graces), have thrown one more into the mix: Humour. This project, compromised of a series of video pieces, brings humour into the mix.
Die 4 Grazien define grace with the words of Edmund Burke as ‘an idea belonging to posture and motion with no appearance of difficulty’. The “Stay in Shape” section of the project shows that though it appears effortless, grace requires hard work and is more than an idea. These covertly powerful graces use their strength in the other videos to assert their position as strong women in the male-dominated world of art. Though meaningful, these artists conduct themselves light-heartedly and light-footedly throughout the piece.
Lotus Flower 2
Rosy Rox is a multimedia artist from Naples, Italy. She has exhibited her work both in solo shows and a part of a group since 1999.
Rosy Rox’s entire portfolio is a daring and powerful exploration of woman’s world and condition. She uses her own physical presence in performative works, and jeers at the stereotyped ambiguous seductiveness that is attributed to womankind. She uses mixed media to present the duality of woman, the combination of weakness/strength, wantonness/modesty, impetuousness/shyness, and eroticism/tenderness. The complexity of her art is deliberately beguiling and perplexing as a glimpse into femininity.
Cenin (pronounced as Jeanine) is a self taught artist who lives and works in Istanbul. The name “Cenin” means fetes, and is her alter ego.
Cenin’s work focuses on the psyche, so her work is highly subtextual and deeply expressive of complicated emotions and psychic states. Much of her work relating to women deals with feelings of unfulfilled feminine identity, inner images of wounded mother & child, life, and birth. Her work though, is never so simple as to be just a representation of a theme, it is always a narrative exploration of a theme in relation to the psyche and the universe.
Vahap Avşar, born in 1965 in Malatya, taught himself to paint and attended Dokuz Eylül University Faculty of Fine Arts from 1985 to 1989. After this, he studied under the tutelage of Cengiz Çekil. Vahap now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
The series Hayat Kadınları brings together two found items – vintage magazine covers from the 50′s and 60′s, and a no longer used form of Turkish currency. The name of the series explains a great deal: Hayat means life, and Kadınları means woman, but ‘hayat kadınları ‘ also means prostitute. Vahap Avşar once said “I hate fashion because, in fashion, you please people with texture or color. You don’t make them think or wonder”. By linking the title, the use of fashion magazines, and an outdated currency together, the series critiques the attitudes of this form of media.
Omar Galliani’s fame comes from Italy, where he is referred to as the “Master of drawing”. He uses a combination of pencil, ink, charcoal, or pastels to create pieces which embody notions of chiaroscuro and sfumato.
His female portraits present women using a combination of Western iconography and Oriental serenity. His works have been exhibited all over the world, and for them he has received numerous recognitions from various museums.
Berkay Buğdanoğlu was born in Istanbul, but left Turkey to attend Maryland Institute College of Art. He spent eight years travelling around the world, improving upon his skills as a painter through visits to various cities.
Buğdanoğlu’s latest work uses his painting skills to bring beauty to a collection of scrap, rusting advertising boards, once used by luxury fashion brands. ‘Icon’ uses the female form to transform the decaying relic of a past era of commercial fashion.