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Street art promoted at Istanbul gallery

ISTANBUL - Referans | 12/23/2009 12:00:00 AM | MÜGE AKGÜN

Elif Çevik and Can Başyiğit, who opened the Milk Art Gallery in the Tünel neighborhood of Istanbul's Beyoğlu district, aim to bring street art, which is very popular in Europe, to the Turkish city. They also seek to support young artists who cannot find a gallery to display their work

A dynamic, vibrant and chalk-white venue, Milk is the first art gallery in Istanbul to display street trends and street art.

Advertisers Elif Çevik and Can Başyiğit opened the gallery this year and have poured their income from the advertising sector into the venture. “It was our biggest dream to open such a gallery,” said the two partners. “This is what makes us happy.”

Their goal is to bring street art, which can be seen everywhere in Europe, to Istanbul and change the perception of the conventional art movement in Turkey while supporting young artists who cannot find a gallery to display their work.

Artists from foreign countries who have been influenced by graffiti and post-graffiti trends have come to Istanbul thanks to Milk’s efforts.

The gallery, located off Galip Dede Street in the Tünel neighborhood, an area famous for musicians, also has a store where toys, illustrations and graffiti- and design-related items are on sale. Pieces from the finished exhibitions are also sold at the store.

This year, the Milk Gallery & Design Store hosted artists from abroad as well as Turkish names such as Merve Morkoç, Ayşe Küçük, Bora Başkan, Ufuk Atan and Gökhan Okur.

The gallery’s 2010 program will be mainly composed of Turkish artists; in the upcoming year, the organizers also hope to release a book including all the illustrators in Turkey.

Another project includes the renting of kitsch-style frames, known as “Royal Frames,” on a weekly or monthly basis for those who wish to display and sell their own work.

The gallery’s first exhibition of the New Year will be called “Paper Toys.”

[HH] ‘Gayri Meşrutiyet’

Milk’s current exhibition, “Gayri Meşrutiyet,” displays works by one of Turkey’s most prominent illustrators, Engin Öztekin, who depicts usually unsmiling Ottoman paşas in a carefree way.

Öztekin has been interested in Ottoman figures since his childhood but said he was always scared of their sullen faces in old photos. The fictional world he has created using cultural elements brings joy to every viewer’s heart.

The exhibition is made up of 21 pieces and also displays city plans in the shape of a hand and face, forming something akin to a modern miniature. Öztekin used traditional and digital techniques together in the show’s black-and-white works and the exhibition contains a number of mixed-mixed pieces as well.

The gallery shop offers a limited number of specially made t-shirts, magnets, badges and tote bags.

With his illustration style and his view of life, Öztekin is reminiscent of the internationally known Turkish cartoonist Gürbüz Doğan Ekşioğlu, who the illustrator said he became a fan of during his school years.

Öztekin has been working in the advertising sector for 14 years and maintains a day job as an art director with Propaganda Istanbul while continuing to make his art. He even moved close to his office in order to get more time for his art at night.

Öztekin’s “Gayri Meşrutiyet” can be seen at Milk Gallery through Jan. 4, 2010.

Milk Gallery & Design Store

Şahkulu Mah. Balkon Çıkmazı No.8/A Tünel, Beyoğlu

Tel: 0532 564 87 66

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