ISTANBUL: The latest edition of the ‘Contemporary Artists’ exhibitions opens a window in the 40-year history of the series, offering insight into the developments in the field of contemporary art
Akbank Sanat, which has been jazzing up the contemporary art scene, encouraging work in this field and supporting artists since the day it was founded, is hosting a new edition of its “Contemporary Artists” exhibition series. “The Room With Forty Doors: The 40th Anniversary Of The Contemporary Artists Exhibitions” is a documentation show that sheds light on 40 years of this exhibition series.
The relationship between contemporary art’s institutional and personal history has always been complex and problematic. The difference between personally-developed art and art that has become the common sensitivity of an environment is pretty clear. Since 1980, Akbank Sanat’s “Contemporary Artists” exhibitions have both preserved internal dynamics of artistic creativity and created common denominators.
The exhibition series, initiated by the Association of Painting and Sculpture Museums in 1980 with the aim of providing new content to the concept of the museum and continuing since 2003 in cooperation with Akbank Sanat, occupy an important place in the Turkish art scene.
“The Room With Forty Doors” exhibition looks at the history of “Contemporary Artists” to celebrate the 40 years of the series. In the exhibition, documents, photographs and videos from the 40 years are presented to the audience in digital media
The artists, selection committee members, curators and everyone who contributed to the “Contemporary Artists” exhibitions for 40 years are the main elements of the show. The entrance floor is a kind of prologue and offers a visual show in which the names of 1,147 people who participated and contributed to the exhibitions over 40 years are displayed one by one. On the entire space of the first floor, all information and documents of the 40 years are displayed on 40 different screens with a documentation approach.
The concept and design of the show have been prepared by Bülent Erkmen while it is curated by Hasan Bülent Kahraman.
Rooted art journey
Curator Kahraman outlined the history of the “Contemporary Artists” exhibitions, explaining that the transformation of an attitude developed by pioneers as a personal artistic approach into a prevalent inclination as a shared sentiment is always a complex phenomenon. He said that the “Contemporary Artists” exhibitions have allowed such a transformation to take place uninterruptedly since 1980. “The history of these exhibitions was the result of an artistic sensitivity that preserved its internal dynamics while creating common denominators,” he added.
According to Kahraman, the history of this exhibition series does not just correspond to the history of contemporary art in Türkiye, instead, it has been an antecedent of it. “Another point that is quite striking is that the exhibitions were initiated by the Association of Painting and Sculpture Museums. The intertwining of the concepts of the museum and “contemporary artists” is an extension of the foresighted and enlightened outlook of the people who have laid the foundations of these institutions, and who deserve our utmost respect.
“Art is in opposition to everything, but most of all to itself. That is the privilege of art. In the limited conditions of Türkiye, the only way art could have achieved this freedom and also this austerity was through an innovative, fluid and dynamic structure like the ‘Contemporary Artists’ exhibitions. And the 40-year history serves as an affirmation of this evaluation, as well as acting as its testimony,” he explained.
Kahraman likens the “Contemporary Artists” exhibitions to a room with 40 doors. Within that room, the labyrinths of memory are enclosed. And each door opens to an adventure and a mystery. In a labyrinth, getting lost is as much a virtue as finding one’s way.
The exhibition can be visited free of charge at Akbank Sanat until Nov. 19, 2022.