Karagöz exhibition at Yapı Kredi 

Karagöz exhibition at Yapı Kredi 

Karagöz exhibition at Yapı Kredi


The Yapı Kredi Museum at the Yapı Kredi Culture and Arts building is hosting an exhibition on Karagöz, the traditional Turkish Shadow Theater.

The exhibition, titled “Karagözüm İki Gözüm” (Karagöz, My Dear) that entertains anyone from 7 to 70 years of age, is featuring original depictions of Ragıp Tuğtekin, one of the important representatives of the traditional Turkish Shadow Theater, in the Yapı Kredi Museum Collection, the masters who give life to the art of Karagöz and the depictions of today’s Karagöz artists.

A total of 187 Karagöz depictions made by Tuğtekin in the 1930s, presently in the Yapı Kredi Museum Collection, were last shown in the exhibition “Yıktın Perdeyi Eyledin Vîrân” in 2004. The depictions in the collection meet the audience with this exhibition, curated by Cengiz Özek and coordinated by Nihat Tekdemir and Elif Erdoğan, this time with the works of artists who were influenced by Tuğtekin and the works of those who became the source of inspiration for Tuğtekin himself.

In the exhibition, with 350 depictions of more than 20 Karagöz artists, the importance of Karagöz plays in the world shadow theater and the reflections of surreal figures and folk legends on Karagöz depictions are displayed under thematic titles.

The exhibition will be accompanied by online events. There is also an exhibition book published by Yapı Kredi Publications in English and Turkish.

Speaking to daily Milliyet, curator Özek said that Tuğtekin was a very well-known name for the world of Karagöz and that the collection in the Yapı Kredi Museum was the most notable one among the other collections in the world as the collection had been gathered in his maturity period.

Many different figures illuminated on the black walls of the museum welcome visitors to the exhibition. Özek calls this section “the colorful world of Karagöz.”

The exhibition continues with the section called “Karagöz Behind the Curtain.” In this section, there are tools and paints used in the construction of a Karagöz figure. It gives an opportunity for the viewers to experience being a Karagöz player by getting behind the curtain of the Karagöz play.

In another section named “Which Countries Have Karagöz Shadow Theater Affected?” Özek said this was a section that he cares about a lot. “Our culture affected so many regions that many people in Turkey don’t know as Karagöz was played in many countries including Romania, Hungary, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, and it still continues in Greek Cyprus.”

In the continuation of the exhibition, visitors can see the Karagöz figures of Tuğtekin, and some of the artists like Nazif Bey, Katip Salih and Tecelli Bey, who were influenced by Tuğtekin, and the figures of the artist’s students.  

The last section of the exhibition takes people on a journey to the shadow plays of different countries. Here there are the figures of shadow plays from China, Indonesia and India.

The exhibition was launched on Sept. 15 and is open until Feb. 21, 2021.

Oldest form of Turkish art

The traditional Turkish shadow theater is one of the oldest forms of Turkish art. The play involves two-dimensional figures in the shape of people, casting their shadows on a screen. The figures hide in the shape of people or different items are put on rods in front of a light source to cast their shadows on a screen.

The play begins with the projection of an introductory figure on the screen that depicts the theme of the drama, which quickly vanishes on the shrill sound of a whistle.