Pera Museum opens winter season with two exhibits: Re/Framing Louis Kahn and Look At Me!

Pera Museum opens winter season with two exhibits: Re/Framing Louis Kahn and Look At Me!

Pera Museum opens winter season with two exhibits: Re/Framing Louis Kahn and Look At Me

Istanbul’s Pera Museum has opened its new winter season with two exhibitions, “Re/Framing Louis Kahn: Photographs by Cemal Emden – Drawings and Paintings” and “Look at Me!: Portraits and Other Fictions from the ‘la Caixa’ Contemporary Art Collection.”

The “Re/Framing Louis Kahn: Photographs by Cemal Emden – Drawings and Paintings” exhibition brings together drawings and photographs of architectural works by Louis I. Kahn, an architect, thinker, artist and “architectural guru” who is considered among the leading figures of 20th century architecture, according to a press release by the museum.

Curated by Müge Cengizkan, the exhibition’s focus is based on Cemal Emden’s photographs that reframe Kahn’s buildings through different themes.

Sponsored by Seranit Group and with the support of Arçelik, the exhibition also offers new insights into Kahn’s ideas through his visionary writings, which have been translated into Turkish for the first time.

The exhibition consists of drawings and photographs of key buildings and sites from Pennsylvania, where Kahn has spent his whole life, working, teaching and practicing, to Dhaka and Ahmedabad, as well as Kahn’s own sketches, drawings and paintings. The photographs that revisit Kahn’s works from the perspective of “tectonics through light,” “constructing the place,” and “assembling the program” constitute the backbone of the exhibition, which also includes short films depicting architect-instructors, sent from the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) to Kahn’s Master Studio at the University of Pennsylvania, commenting and reminiscing about this extraordinary man. Selections from books written by and on Kahn can also be found in the exhibition.

Edited by Müge Cengizkan and designed by Bülent Erkmen, the exhibition catalogue for “Re/Framing Louis Kahn: Photographs by Cemal Emden – Drawings and Paintings” includes Kahn’s classic texts that have never been translated into Turkish before: “Silence and Light,” “The Room, The Street and Human Agreement” and “Law and Rule in Architecture,” as well as articles from Müge Cengizkan, Jale Erzen, Ahmet Gülgönen, Gönül Aslanoğlu Evyapan, Neslihan Dostoğlu, Cengiz Yetken, Yıldırım Yavuz and Orhan Özgüner.

Kahn became the most important figure in what would later be called the “Philadelphia School.” In his master’s studio, which offers a graduate degree in each of the two semesters during one academic year, Kahn has left behind an astonishing legacy of teaching and advising to approximately 425 students from 40 countries.

In the last years of his life, he worked on some of his iconic buildings, like the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Kimbell Art Museum, Phillips Exeter Academy Library and Indian Institute of Management. Kahn designed the National Parliament of Bangladesh (Sher-e-Bangla Nagar), the Yale Center for British Art and the Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. On his way back to Philadelphia from Ahmedabad, Louis Kahn suffered a heart attack and died in Pennsylvania Station in New York on March 17, 1974.

‘Look at Me!’

The other exhibition, “Look at Me!: Portraits and Other Fictions from the ‘la Caixa’ Contemporary Art Collection,” exhibition examines portraiture, one of the oldest artistic genres, through a significant number of works in our times. Paintings, photographs, sculptures and videos shape a labyrinth of gazes that invite spectators to reflect themselves in the social mirror of portraits, according to the release.

Curated by Nimfa Bisbe Molin and divided into four thematic sections, “Spotlight on Emotion,” “The Conventions of Identity,” “The Memory of the Face” and “Masks and Other Fictions,” the exhibition presents the works of Janine Antoni, Eduardo Arroyo, Juan Navarro Baldeweg, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Christian Boltanski, Rineke Dijkstra, Marlene Dumas, Esther Ferrer, Günther Förg, Curro González, Stefan Hablützel, Roni Horn, Sharon Lockhart, Pedro Mora, Vik Muniz, Óscar Muñoz, Bruce Nauman, Carlos Pazos, Cindy Sherman, Antoni Tàpies, Gillian Wearing and Sue Williams.

The works assembled in this exhibition examine concepts of truth, appearance and representation, along with memory and fiction. Some put the normative canons of portraiture to the test, revealing its ruses and the conventions of society. Painting exposes masks and make-up, whereas photography experiments with the potential of fiction to produce disconcerting effects of reality.

Some artists are interested in the anonymity of portraits, while others dissect social roles and address the problems of representing identity. Some works define a figure or a face, while others depict some of the distinctive symbols of our society.

The portrait is a compendium of matter and spirit. Hopes and desires clash with the conventions and stereotypes of portraiture. Time, history and post-truth splatter and soak the contemporary interpretation of the portrait and self-portrait in our modern-day world, so complexly crammed with images. Visibility and opacity are inseparable in the current definition of the portrait. Studying and seeing the world through portraits is a real and fascinating possibility.

For all its seeming clarity and formal transparency, the portrait is a dark place that beckons, a labyrinth full of possibilities and paths that inevitably draw the curious spectator inwards.

The “la Caixa” Contemporary Art Collection was established in 1985 and now comprises nearly one thousand works, which serve as the basis for thematic exhibitions that address universal issues and current concerns.

Both exhibitions opened on Dec. 7 and can be visited through March 4, 2018 at the Pera Museum.

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