The Top 5 Contemporary Turkish Artists

Istanbul’s art scene is continuing on a rising path with new galleries continuing to open their doors and local artists beginning to make their last marks internationally. We took a look at our favorite five contemporary Turkish artists.

Taner Ceylan

To enter Taner Ceylan’s website you have to be at least 18 years old, a harbinger for this artist’s style that has often made him the focus of heavy criticism by the Turkish press. Ceylan’s hyperrealistic paintings deal with an emotional and sexual dimension, and their honesty is raw and downright beautiful. Having graduated in 1991 from Mimar Sinan, Istanbul’s premier school for fine arts, Ceylan went on to present his first group and solo exhibition in Nuremberg, Germany in the same year. He has continued to present his work in Istanbul (where his exhibition Monte Carlo Style in 1995 made quite an impact) as well as in New York, New Orleans, Berlin, and Rotterdam.

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Kezban Arca Batıbeki

Kezban Arca Batıbeki grew up in a family of artists. Her father, Atıf Yılmaz, was one of Turkey’s most famous film directors, while her mother Nurhan Nur, was a movie star and stage actress. It was then no surprise that Batıbeki turned to contemporary art, creating vibrant colors and kitsch materials to express a deeper message of pain and tragedy. She has worked with painting, installation, short film and photography to bring the female world to the forefront in all its complexity. Born in Istanbul in 1956, Batıbeki has had sixteen solo exhibitions and presented her work worldwide in cities such as Tokyo, Strasbourg, and Vienna.

İrfan Önürmen

Working with collages, paintings, and sculptures, Bursa-born artist İfran Önürmen explores the impact of mass media on the human psyche. In his ‘Gaze’ series, for example, Önürmen used composite images of figures found on the Internet from layered strips of soft tulle to explore the disparity between real identity and representation. Another student of Mimar Sinan University, Önürmen had his first solo exhibition in 1988 in Istanbul and has continued to present his work all over Turkey, as well as in art fairs and group exhibitions in Europe.

Mustafa Horasan

With an artistic style that was influenced by his background in design and graphics, Mustafa Horasan works across a wide range of media including oil and pastel drawing and print. The outcomes are colorful and often collage-style works that explore physiological and psychological spaces with inspiration taken from the grotesque as well as pop culture. With two solo shows, in London and Hong Kong respectively, already under his belt, his works have also been represented by international fairs such as The Armory Show (New York), Art Dubai, Contemporary Istanbul, Scope Basel, and Marrakech Art Fair.

Sarkis Zabunyan

Simply known as Sarkis, this prominent conceptual artist has used installation, photography, watercolor, and video to explore themes of presence and absence, permanence and transience, place and identity. Interested in the relationship between time and memory, Sarkis highlights the ephemeral nature of matter and experience. The Turkish-born Armenian artist moved to Paris in 1962 after winning the Paris Young Artists Biennial Prize, and has returned to his native Istanbul several times to exhibit his works. He has presented his works worldwide including the USA, Germany, India, Australia, China, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil.

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