Turkey’s modern-day ‘Medicis’ boost Turkish art

Turkey’s modern-day ‘Medicis’ boost Turkish art

Turkey’s most prominent art collectors are a group of well-known business people. Recently they have taken action to support young artist graduates.

These modern-day “Medicis” try to counter Turkey’s many woes with a promising new development: An interest in art.

In addition to facilities organized by big Turkish industrial groups such as Koç, Sabancı and Eczacıbaşı, an increasing number of collectors and museums fund exciting exhibitions, creating an incredible art ecosystem in the process.

“These days there are queues in two places: at Apple stores and in museums and exhibitions,” said businessman Mustafa Taviloğlu, who is among the most important art collectors in Turkey. He is right.

In the spirit of the Medici family in 15th century Florence, who famously supported artists during the Renaissance era, Turkey’s wealthy art patrons are on the rise.

One such patron-funded outlet is BASE, Turkey’s foremost exhibition collective that showcases graduates from country-wide faculties of fine arts.

Among the contributing speakers and jurists are notables such as businessmen Mustafa Taviloğlu, Agah Uğur, Erol Bilecik, Selman Bilal and Emin Hitay.

From the southeastern province of Batman, to the northwestern province of Sakarya, almost 1000 artworks were sent in, from a total of 52 universities spanning 20 provinces.

A 23-member international jury subsequently selected 116 artworks from 108 artists.

These artworks will go on show at Istanbul’s Galata Rum Elementary School.

Ali Bilge, the founder of BASE, said the exhibition is due to take place from Dec. 21-24, and is supported by HP, Intel, Kale Seramik (a subsidiary of Kale Group), the Economy Bank of Turkey (TEB) and Pegasus Airlines.

Taviloğlu began collecting art in 1972. Today he has almost 3,000 pieces of art.

“In the last 10 years, I have only bought works from younger artists. This project is very exciting,” he said.

“In past years, Turkish artworks were too expensive. This encouraged collectors to look abroad. Now prices have returned to normal levels,” he said, referring to the Turkish art market.

Emin Hitay, another collector with over 300 artworks, said Turkish art began to be overpriced in the year 2000, prompting him to buy works from abroad. “BASE will broaden the horizons for new artists,” he said.

Selman Bilal, the owner of Bil’s Shirts, began his art collection in 2007, with a small bronze statue crafted by the artist İlhan Koman.

His collection is composed solely of Turkish artists.

“I aim to support our native art production,” he said.

Borusan Holding CEO Agah Uğur said he became interested in art during his years of study in England, and stressed that he definitely does not see art as an investment tool.

“Around the year 2000 prices shot up. Art morphed into a commercial commodity for an elite group of people. The investors profile increased interest in art. But in the wake of the 2009 crisis, prices plummeted and important collectors began looking abroad. The sector weakened. This is of course saddening. Our country has a talented and motivated ecosystem and collectors are the life source,” Uğur said.

The only thing that makes life beautiful in tough times is art. Support is precious.

jale özgentürk, hdn, Opinion