ISTANBUL : Located in Turkey’s famous resort town Bodrum‘s Yalıkavak on the turquoise coast of the Aegean, Bodrum Bodrum Coastal Houses hosts a new group exhibition by Istanbul’s contemporary art gallery Öktem Aykut. “Open Labyrinth” presents works by seven artists, including Eymen Aktel, Stijn Ank, Koray Ariş, Ceylan Dökmen, Yasemin Öncü, Mesut Öztürk and Begüm Yamanlar.
Bodrum Bodrum Coastal Houses, which integrates with nature in the Tilkicik bay with its stylish and original architectural design in addition to bringing a fresh take to Bodrum, opens its doors to the younger generation of gallery owners and artists. The latest group exhibition of Öktem Aykut, which has brought a new impetus to Turkish art and exhibition culture with its exhibitions and projects both internationally and domestically, features site-specific works by its artists at the Coastal Houses.
The gallery area at the entrance of Bodrum Bodrum Coastal Houses hosts pieces by Aktel and Öncü at “Open Labyrinth.” Aktel completed her first bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts at Istanbul Kültür University, and started a major in Sculpture at Marmara University Faculty of Fine Arts. Using the richness of different materials and forms she has experienced in the field of sculpture in her paintings and performances, she focuses on the themes of environment, women, animal rights and labor. While narrating the ecological crisis within the framework of cause, effect and struggle, she creates an ethnic language inspired by ancient compositions and colors. Bodrum Bodrum Coastal Houses also hosted Aktel in its new art guest residence program this year. The works produced by the artist during this residency also meet visitors in the exhibition.
Öncü, on the other hand, graduated from Sabancı University Visual Arts in 2012. She completed her master’s degree at the Department of Interdisciplinary Art, Communication and Design of the Ontario College of Art & Design University, known as OCAD University, in Toronto in 2016. Producing painting and video works, the artist is especially known for her installations featuring a symbol alphabet she created for herself. Continuing her productions in her workshop in the Turkish resort town Çeşme, Öncü opened her last solo exhibition, “Pencere” (“Window”) at Öktem Aykut in Istanbul in June last year.
In the interior of the gallery, Aktel’s pottery and Öncü’s canvas works on the labyrinth theme are accompanied by Yamanlar’s photography trilogy and Öztürk’s ceramic works. Yamanlar received her undergraduate and graduate studies in photography, video, art and design at Bahçeşehir University and Sabancı University. She is still continuing her doctoral studies at Bahçeşehir University. Her works have been displayed at the solo exhibitions at Zilberman, Bilsart and Öktem Aykut along with group exhibitions at art institutions including Istanbul Modern, Sakıp Sabancı Museum (SSM), Odunpazarı Modern Museum (OMM) and Arter. Yamanlar’s next exhibition will take place at Öktem Aykut in January 2023.
Öztürk was born in Bulgaria in 1989 and he migrated to Turkey with his family the same year. He completed his bachelor’s degree in the Faculty of Architecture at Yeditepe University, Istanbul. Later on, he completed his master’s degree in “History, Theory, Criticism in Architecture” at Istanbul Bilgi University with a dissertation about the informal settlements of Istanbul. His ceramic work is mostly based on his architectural background and his observations about the places he lived as an outsider. While he is experimenting with structural possibilities and the limits of the material, he seeks to find ways to translate his contemplations about poetic places, timeless artifacts or urban formations. Öztürk’s first solo exhibition “Proliferation” took place in Öktem Aykut in 2021. He currently lives and works in Paris.
In the garden of the gallery area at the Bodrum Bodrum Coastal Houses, Dökmen’s works for “Open Labyrint” can be seen together with the works of Belgian artist Ank and master sculptor Ariş. Dökmen studied at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University and Marmara University Sculpture Departments. She was also trained in light design at the Politecnico di Milano University in Italy. He is known for the representations of trees and cities he produced using metal structures.
Ank’s body of work can be considered as extensive research into the relationship between matter and void and the various ways in which contemporary sculpture can be defined in relation to its surrounding space. Marking off the boundaries of a certain chosen space, Ank creates molds with a variety of materials such as wood, aluminum, rubber and clay, which he then casts in plaster. During the casting process, he mixes pigments with the liquid plaster, letting the material render its ultimate appearance. The works created by this process are both fragile and robust, delicate and solid, light as a feather and heavy as lead.
Born in 1944 in Istanbul, Ariş studied sculpture in Istanbul’s National Academy of Fine Arts, where both of his parents had also studied. He graduated from Şadi Çalık Atelier in 1968. After graduation, he obtained a state scholarship and went to Italy to continue his studies. In 1969-71 he became a student of sculptor and Emilio Greco professor at Fine Arts Academy of Rome. Following his studies, he set up his own studio in Rome, in 1971.
A year after finishing his studies, in 1972, he held his first one-person exhibition at Galleria La Nuova Pesa, Rome. Ariş lived and worked in Rome until 1975, when he returned to Turkey and started teaching in the academy, where he graduated. In 1977, he resigned and founded his own studio in Çatalca, a small historical town at the western edge of Istanbul, where he still continues his works.
“Open Labyrinth” can be visited at Bodrum Bodrum Coastal Houses until Oct. 1, 2022.