An element of fancy. A dialectic. The Ottoman view point. A crossroads between easy east and hard west. The legacy of Islamic geometric abstraction beckons. Like most museums in art capitals there are international highlights complemented with works from local artists. At Istanbul Modern I found that the tone of the local work seemed to herald an international modernity.
Hüseyin Çağlayan opens the galleries with a bold sculptural wall piece. Continuing in the new works section pieces by Canan Dagdelen, and Seçkin Pirim make use of bold repetitive geometric forms, others use photography and paint in contemporary ways.
Perhaps a product of the era in which we live is that all artists of the age that are shown in museums grew up or were born in the age of late modernism. Many critics consider post modernism to be the latent phase of high modernism anyway. The Istanbul Modern collection of work gels into a post modernists curatorial blur. For lack of a better reference like one of Gerhard Richter painting.
Beyond homages to op art and Albers, there are obviously some political highlights here. Gülsün Karamustafa’s 2 channel installation ‘Memory of a Square’ about how people experience their ordinary lives whilst being confronted with a state of protest and repression in greater society, speaks of how demonstrations and protests affect the subconscious of a population.
Şener Özmen stands in a field as he postulates while being unable to be heard. In another video he collaborates with Erkan Özgen playing Don Quixote on his way to Tate modern. As the museums text intimates more and more artists are living transient existences now moving from city to city working here and there. So what does this mean for us as viewers or even for the artist. What is this decentralised world coming to. Is the Artist the woman for sale in Şükran Moral’s 1997 bordello? Are there still mecca’s for the art world to pilgrimage to.
I guess it would be natural in a Muslim society for women to question the values of their presence in society. It’s seems evident of the progressive nature of the society that there are a great number of female artists, even in western art markets there are as many female artists on show. Artists such as Nezaket Ekici, Gül Ilgaz, Nil Yalter and Nilbar Gures all explore the nature and role of women in society.
The fact the the society is meant to be secular is strongly felt in the extremes of the culture and reflected in the freedom of ideas being explored on show. I found it fascinating my experience was that it is one of the only cultures I have been to where the temples are being heavily used on a daily basis.
As the collections sit on the edge of water one gets this mesmerising calming feeling as one stares out the window a the crossing waters. It felt like the collection was imbedded by the energies of the water. The flowing water of the Bosporus much like the city itself, a mesh of beliefs and cultural views.