14th edition of Contemporary Istanbul took place between September 12 and 15 at the Istanbul Convention and Exhibition Center (ICEC) and Istanbul Congress Center (ICC) with the VIP Preview on Wednesday September 11, 2019. This years’ New Artistic Director was French Anissa Touati who focused on the subject of Mediterranealism, exploring the unification of the region from the past to the present day and how it was reflected by artists from Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
I would like to tell you about four artists’ masterpieces I picked that were exhibited at the four galleries from different European countries during the CI 2019. Sevart.ist’s artist and photographer Tatiana Kirilova provided the photo and video coverage while I was listening to the stories of the creative processes that lie behind the artworks. Tatiana is one of our Russian school contemporary artists living happily in Turkey, where she studied traditional Ebru Art with Turkish masters and developed her special “Reng-i Su” technique. Tatiana’s artworks were exhibited by Sevart.ist at the luxury Mandarin Oriental Hotel and several other design and boutique locations in Bodrum, a famous South-Western Turkish coastal town, that itself is very reflective of the Mediterranen culture and lifestyle.
1) Marina Gisich Gallery / St. Petersburg, Russia
The only Russian Gallery of CI 2019 was Marina Gisich Gallery from St. Petersburg, who first exhibited in Istanbul at CI 2015, but later on preferred to show at Western European fairs and Art Miami held during the Art Basel week in USA. Sevart.ist had followed this gallery’s journey across the ocean and was pleased to see them taking part in the Contemporary Istanbul again. I sincerely thank Kristina Vasilevskaya for introducing me to their artists and their statement artworks.
I advice to look carefully at the piece, which Kristina and I are standing in front of. Many of the fair‘s visitors who had a chance to view this piece mistakenly took it for a digital photograph. On the contrary, as the careful eyes do not miss, it is in fact an oil on canvas. When you have a closer look at the painting it is possible to see the brush strokes. Created with enormous dedication and patience by Kerim Ragimov, this piece is one of the most striking examples of his hyperrealistic canvas.
Ragimov is focused on the relationship of image to reality, so he often uses group photos from newspapers and then paints his subjects on canvas with precision and intensity that could only be admired. Naturally, this is a very time-consuming process, that is why Ragimov usually completes only 2-3 pieces a year. The artist had created only 64 paintings in the last 25 years, which makes his artworks extremely valuable and truly collectable items.
2) JD Mallat Gallery / London, the U.K.
JD Malat is a gallery from central London which represents a board spectrum of contemporary artists from international schools and various backgrounds. The gallery’s founder, Jean-David Malat, is a Paris born, London-based art dealer and curator, who has promoted over a dozen formerly unknown artists to the world’s attention using his years of expertise and network. Sevart.ist’s founder Veronica Gunduzlu met with the gallery’s team in London during the Frieze Art fair in October 2018, when they had shown a great selection of artworks by a Berlin-based Turkish artist Erdogan Zumrutoglu which created quite an impact with sophisticated London art loving public.
In the photo, Jean-David and I are standing next to the sensational bronze sculpture by Hande Şekerciler from her “Ecstasy” series.
Although Hande’s sculptures are influenced by historical figures of Renaissance and Hellenistic periods, her interest in technology and new production techniques blends a good mix of classical and contemporary.
3) Mark Hachem Gallery / Paris, France
My favorite pick of Mark Hachem Gallery is Patrick Hughes’ 3-D reverspective painting and its experience of unreality and the paradox of illusory space and movement. A simple photo wouldn’t pay justice to this artwork, so we took a video footage to allow a viewer for a more satisfying visual experience.
Patrich Hughes says; “When the principles of perspective are reversed and solidified into sculpted paintings something extraordinary happens; the mind is deceived into believing the impossible, that a static painting can move of its own accord.
Having seen this artwork at CI 2019, I was inspired to further research the artist’s works of optical and visual illusions. I must say, his fortunate collectors come into possession of a unique combination of art and science that makes us realise how limited our usual perspective and perceptions are. We look at something from a certain point of view and we think that we see the whole picture, understand the whole issue, however small changes of where we stand may change the perception considerably.
My special thanks go to Mark Hachem for telling us the stories of the masterpieces and artists of his gallery with his usual charm and passion that inspire. There were indeed many amazing artworks, each with their own unique style. We were pleased to see kinetic and optical artworks by such great Latin American masters, as Jesus Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz Diez being brought to Istanbul. Sevart.ist’s founder Veronica Gunduzlu had experienced the beauty and power of these masters in Miami over the years of attending Art Basel and Art Miami fairs, where Mark Hachem is a frequent exhibitor. We believe that Turkish collectors also feel strongly about kinetic and optical art, and we shall soon see Diez and Soto in more esteemed collections in Istanbul, Ankara and Bodrum.
4) Villa del Arte Galleries / Barcelona, Spain
Villa del Arte Galleries was founded in Barcelona and developed into one of Catalonia’s leading contemporary art galleries. The gallery always felt committed to discover, support and exhibit lesser-known artists and bring them to the stage of international acclaim. The gentleman standing next to me is Bert van Zetten, one of the founders of Villa del Arte.
The paintings behind us belong to a Spanish artist who lives and works in the Netherlands, Lita Cabellut. She considers herself a storyteller rather than a painter. She has an extraordinary life story, growing up as a homeless child on the streets of Barcelona until she was adopted at the age of twelve. Then her fortune had turned as she was introduced to the Spanish masters at the Prado Museum by her new family. The impact was so strong, that she decided to devote her life to art with all the passion that she possesses.
The name of the painting I picked is Coral Flowers.
Lita’s large-scale canvases combine traditional fresco techniques and modern applications of oil paint. Her central theme is “the Human” alone with societal messages, as she paints the portraits of street dwellers, prostitutes, religious and historical figures, fictional characters and people of modern power and influence. People from all walks of life are deserved to be a subject of observation, according to the artist.
Overall, it was a great artfair to be a part of!
I sincerely hope that all of my picks and dozens of other amazing artworks had found their grateful collectors and new homes in Turkey.
Sevart.ist believes in Making Art a Lifestyle, wherever one lives- be it a glass and steel high rise condominium in the heart of a metropolis or a beautiful seaside house with a tiled roof. As our founder Veronica Gunduzlu says, “Art agrees with all styles of architecture and fits in every house, doesn’t matter how large or small it is”. Let’s invest in life by giving each other the gift of ART.