Tankut Öktem retrospective commemorating the artist

Tankut Öktem retrospective commemorating the artist

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Tankut Öktem retrospective commemorating the artist

On the fifth anniversary of his death, the exhibition at the Caddebostan Culture Center reflects Tankut Öktem’s 64 years creating many important sculptures in Turkey.

The exhibition “An extraordinary master: Tankut Öktem” opens on the fifth anniversary of the Turkish sculptor’s death at Istanbul’s Caddebostan Culture Center, where it will be on display until Dec. 10.

The exhibition reflects the artist’s 64 years creating many important sculptures in Turkey. His large-scaled sculptures have always attracted attention, such as the Manisa National Forces and Atatürk Monument, Military Academy Monument, Kastamonu Şerife Bacı Monument, Zonguldak Mine Workers Monument, Magosa Freedom Monument, Amasya Monument and Çanakkale Monument. Different parts of Turkish society are represented in Öktem’s sculptures, in which workers, villagers and farmers are the main characters. The artist preferred to speak and stay in touch with his subjects while making his sculptures.

One of the best sculptors in the world

Öktem was chosen as one of the best sculptors in the world for a piece titled “Love,” but became well-known in Turkey in the 1970s for his monumental works depicting Atatürk and the Turkish War of Independence, remarkable for their large number of figures. Öktem, who produced close to 1,000 bronze and stone sculptures throughout his six-decade career, is best known for the grand sculptures he designed for city squares in numerous Turkish provinces.

Öktem was born in Konya in 1940 and his childhood was spent moving from one location in Turkey to another following the successive assignments of his veterinarian parents who were employed by the state. By his teens, he was already recognized as a child prodigy in sculpture and painting and he chose to concentrate on the former discipline after his enrollment in the ceramics branch of the Istanbul Fine Arts School. In the third grade he received first prize in a World Contest for Young Sculptors. He completed his education in Germany in 1962.

Öktem also created sculptures of Turkish stars. A statue of Barış Akarsu, a young Turkish artist who died in a traffic accident, was spearheaded by Öktem, who unfortunately died in a traffic accident himself before completing the statue. His daughters finished the piece and with the support of the Barış Akarsu Culture and Arts foundation, it was placed in Küçük Liman Culture Park. During the inaugural ceremony for the statue, Öktem’s life story was read and Bartın Mayor İsa Küçük called on people to obey and adopt traffic rules as a lifestyle, saying, “Then Öktem and Akarsu will wave their hands at us with smiling faces.”

Öktem also made his mark with a piece titled “Monument of Respect for History,” displayed in Gallipoli Park. Part of a two-year modernization project for the Aegean’s Gallipoli Peninsula, Respect for History Park contains a sculpture commemorating soldiers of Gallipoli who fought during World War I prior to Turkish Independence War.

The sculptor produced contemporary pieces until 1973 when he began designing multi-figured sculptures. Many important sculptures by Öktem can be found around Turkey, such as the National Forces and Atatürk Monument commemorating Turkish revolutionaries in the War of Independence, the largest monument in Turkey and third tallest sculpture in the world at 63 meters.