Istanbul Takes New York: A Look at 4 Fall Shows From Turkey's Surging Art Scene

Istanbul Takes New York: A Look at 4 Fall Shows From Turkey's Surging Art Scene
Gulay Semercioglu's "Green Apple," 2011, wire, screws, wood
(Courtesy the Artist and Leila Heller Gallery)

In recent years, art analysts have alternately described the rise of the Turkish market as both a bubble and a long-brewing boom. Whichever turns out to be true in the long run, there’s no denying its explosion. Sotheby’s London launched its first auction dedicated to modern and contemporary Turkish art in 2009, bringing in $1.3 million during the inaugural edition. The next year, sales nearly doubled.

Galleries appear to have taken note. While the prices at the Sotheby’s sale in April cooled a bit, dealers in New York have organized a crop of shows devoted to Turkish artists this fall. From galleries specializing in the Middle East, like Chelsea’s Leila Heller, to the more Euro-centric Sperone Westwater, here’s a look at where to spot the group of trendy Turks in the months to come:


Kutlug Ataman, “Mesopotamian Dramaturgies,” at Sperone Westwater, November 1-December 22

Newly represented by Sperone Westwater, Ataman is making something of a comeback in the west after showing predominantly in the Middle East and Europe for nearly a decade. The series of four video installations that comprise “Mesopotamian Dramaturgies” is firmly rooted in his native landscape, however, often highlighting the tensions of modernization in Turkey. At the start of the Arab Spring, for instance, Ataman filmed a formation of rushing waterfalls and projected the images onto multiple screens, reminding viewers that destruction and purification can occur simultaneously.

Gulay Semercioglu, “Variations on Line,” Leila Heller Gallery, October 11-November 12

Istanbul-based painter Gulay Semercioglu makes her U.S. solo debut at Leila Heller with a collection of architectural abstractions woven from razor-thin metal wires and mounted into wooden frames. The work draws upon the history of her hometown, Gaziantep, which was known for its wire-woven textiles. “My grandfather, when he was bored or unhappy, used to resort to weaving,” she explained in a statement. “My grandmother used to win prizes for her embroidery and jewelry. It’s in my genes and in the process.”

Yigit Yazici, “Nobody’s Business but the Turk’s,” Tally Beck, November 14-January 6

A fixture on the Istanbul pop art scene, Yazici brings 12 fluorescent paintings to the Lower East Side’s contemporary Asian gallery Tally Beck next month. Yazici tarts up everyday imagery, such as motorcycles and furniture, with maze-like layers of neon paint. Earlier this year, in consistently Warholian fashion, Yazici designed an Absolut Istanbul label with a cartoonish tableau of the Galata Tower on the Bosphorous. He will return to the U.S. in December to attend Art Asia Miami with Tally Beck.

Ali Kazma, “In It,” at C24 Gallery, November 7-December 22

Video artist Ali Kazma has been busy: he recently closed a solo show at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., and will be representing Turkey in the 2013 Venice Biennale. In the meantime, he is bringing a series of new and old works to Chelsea’s C24 Gallery for his first solo show in New York. Curated by French critic Paul Ardenne, the multi-screened videos are being shown together to create a new environment that explores time and energy. Kazma also had a video in the inaugural exhibition at C24, a gallery launched last year by a group of Turkish collectors and a New York attorney.