Turkish artist presents solo show in Athens
Karamustafa is regarded as one of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century in Turkey. Now, after her international retrospective exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin in 2017, she will be in Athens.
The exhibition “The Peculiar Song” at Nitra Gallery consists of several themes in different mediums such as paintings, assemblages with found objects, photo collages and a film video come together in the gallery space.
Istanbul’s extensive history, its multi-layered visual registers have always been of interest for Karamustafa. Picking up on the history of Istanbul, whose population has grown into 20 million in less than half a century, Karamustafa discusses issues of history and memory loss. The series of under-glass paintings, dig deep to find the traces and the reminiscent of its diverse cultures.
The technique refers to a traditional Turkish practice that was usually found in paintings in Turkish coffeehouses and barbershops of the 19th and early 20th century, while the printed themes mixed with paper collages, are drawn from covers of popular magazines in the second decade of the 20th century.
Also, assemblages with found objects and collages of photos of residents who once survived in the city are presented in the exhibition, highlighting the notions of memory and identity.
The video film about Madam Marta, a resident of Burgaz Island off Istanbul, an Egyptian Coptic/Armenian woman, and the bay named after her, where she enjoyed swimming naked, highlight the sound of “The Peculiar Song” in the venue.
Part of the exhibition is of new works of the “Promised Paintings” series, in which women seem to be to pointing to each other and in other directions.
Karamustafa, who is inspired by Byzantine imagery, comments on this work, saying, “An icon maker is only the hand of ‘god’ and as such never has the initiative to paint as him- or herself. ‘Promised Paintings’ gave me a very special kind of freedom and became an inventive game for me as I never wished to obey the rules of ‘peinture’ that were thoroughly imposed by the art milieu in the 1980s.”
“The Peculiar Song” presents new works which address issues evident in the artist’s practice throughout the years along with works of established ongoing series, bringing together the essence of Karamustafa’s practice.
Born in 1946 in Ankara, Karamustafa graduated from the Istanbul State Fine Arts Academy in 1969 and lives and works in Istanbul.
She participated in the International Istanbul Biennials (1987, 1992, 1995); Kwangju (2000); Havana and Cetinje (2003); Seville Biennial (2004); Guangzou Triennial, Cairo Biennial (2008); Singapore Biennial (2011), Kiev Biennale (2012), Thessaloniki Biennale (2013); Sao Paulo and Gwangju Biennial (2014).
Her works are included in the collections of the Nationalgalerie Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, MUMOK, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Vienna, Tate Modern London, Guggenheim Museum New York, Van Abbe Museum Eindhoven and Istanbul Modern, among others.
The exhibition will continue through June 1.