Art & Culture

Art galleries, exhibitions and reviews of the best art in Istanbul

Beyond the Vessel: Myths, Legends, and Fables in Contemporary Ceramics around Europe
Art

Beyond the Vessel: Myths, Legends, and Fables in Contemporary Ceramics around Europe

'Beyond the Vessel: Myths, Legends, and Fables in Contemporary Ceramics around Europe' is the first exhibition of Mesher, a new culture and art space initiated by Vehbi Koç Foundation(VKV) at the Meymaret Han, the building that housed VKV’s contemporary art center Arter until 2018. The exhibition demonstrates how ancient myths from various cultures have echoed down generations and inspired an exciting new wave of contemporary art. It focuses on ceramics as a vehicle for conveying shared human stories. 'Beyond the Vessel: Myths, Legends, and Fables in Contemporary Ceramics around Europe' is curated by Catherine Milner and Károly Aliotti and exhibits the works of Sam Bakewell, Bertozzi & Casoni, Vivian van Blerk, Christie Brown, Phoebe Cummings, Bouke de Vries, Malene Hartmann Rasmussen, Klara Kristalova, Elsa Sahal, Kim Simonsson, Carolein Smit, Jørgen Haugen Sørensen, Hugo Wilson. 

Ad Infinitum
Art

Ad Infinitum

Dirimart's new group exhibition titled 'Ad Infinitum' presents the selected works of Ayşe Erkmen, Lucia Koch, Alicja Kwade, Sarah Morris, Sarkis, Taldans, Nasan Tur, Ebru Uygun, and Jorinde Voigt under the curatorship of Ceren Erdem.  The exhibition deals with continuity via rhythm as it takes its title from the Latin expression referring to infinite repetition. 

Bill Viola: Impermanence
Art

Bill Viola: Impermanence

Bill Viola has been investigating the mysteries of the human condition for more than forty years, employing technology as a medium that during those decades evolved at a rapid pace. Impermanence is Viola’s first major survey exhibition in Istanbul. The exhibition can be visited between September 14, 2019-September 13, 2020 at Borusan Contemporary. borusancontemporary.com 

Our Blissful Souvenirs
Art

Our Blissful Souvenirs

The most comprehensive exhibition to date of Nur Koçak, one of Turkey’s first photorealist painters, is presented at SALT Beyoğlu and SALT Galata. The exhibition is titled after one of her works, Our Blissful Souvenirs comprises a selection of early drawings and photographic series, produced between the 1960s and 2010s. The exhibition offers an in-depth view into Koçak’s critically narrative practice, which examines the spread of popular culture from women’s magazines and Hollywood movies through to its repercussions in Turkey. Our Blissful Souvenirs was programmed by art historian Ahu Antmen together with Amira Akbıyıkoğlu from SALT.

The Fringe comes to Istanbul
Music

The Fringe comes to Istanbul

Since its emergence in Edinburgh in 1947, the Fringe Festival has spread across the world to become one of the most significant performing arts events of today and we’re delighted to report that the very first Istanbul Fringe Festival is on its way. The festival, whose programme brings together some of the finest works of contemporary performance around, will stage pieces by both domestic and international theatre groups chosen out of 184 applicants. Eda Arman and Zeynep Uğur from the Fringe team tell us what to look forward to. The Fringe comes to Istanbul How did you to get Istanbul Fringe off the ground? Eda: The festival became a reality thanks to the support of our volunteers and our venue sponsors. We were also able to get the Kadıköy Municipality on board, through which we were able to add the Caddebostan Cultural Centre and the Barış Manço Cultural Centre to our list of venues. Could you give us a brief history of the Fringe? Zeynep Uğur: The story of the Fringe, denoting that which is alternative and experimental, began in 1947 when eight theatre groups turned up uninvited at the Edinburgh Festival and presented performances on the ‘fringes’ of the festival at alternative venues. This spontaneous occurrence was the instigator of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, known widely today as one of the most prestigious events of the contemporary performing arts scene. Fringe festivals are now held annually in various cities around the world and come in all different shapes a

Istanbul's must-see museums

Hagia Sophia Museum
Museums

Hagia Sophia Museum

The Hagia Sophia is among Istanbul's most popular and iconic historic sites – and for good reason: its massive, transcendent interior is breathtaking and can easily be gazed at for hours. Completed in the 6th century on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, Hagia Sophia remained the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a millennium until the completion of Seville Cathedral in 1520. Before being converted into a mosque in the 15th century and later into a museum in 1935, Hagia Sophia served as the centre of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Its most notable features are its magnificent dome, considered to be an architectural marvel even today, and the Byzantine mosaics adorning its walls, which feature portaits of bygone emperors and representations of Christ.

Topkapı Palace Museum
Museums

Topkapı Palace Museum

Among the gems of the historic peninsula, the Topkapı Palace looms over the point where the Golden Horn and Marmara Sea meet. The palace was the primary residence of the Ottoman sultans for more than four centuries, and its extensive rooms, chamber houses and fascinating objects, including the 86-carat Spoonmaker’s Diamond, make the museum a must-see. In addition to its extensive and illustrious permanent collections of weaponry, precious jewels and religious artifacts, it is a also home to a rotating cast of temporary exhibitions.

Pera Museum
Museums

Pera Museum

Established in 2005, the Pera Museum takes its name from the original name for the Beyoğlu district and is housed in a handsome 19th century building. Known for its diverse and well-curated temporary exhibitions by artists from all over the world, the Pera Museum is also home to a permanent collection of Orientalist paintings, Anatolian weights and measures, and Kütahya tiles and ceramics on display. Pera Museum's in-house cinema screens a variety of independent features and shorts throughout the year.

Sakıp Sabancı Museum
Museums

Sakıp Sabancı Museum

Set in the palatial Bosphorus mansion and former home of the late business tycoon Sakıp Sabancı, the Sakıp Sabancı Museum is one of the major privately owned museums in the country and has hosted some of the biggest exhibitions in Istanbul, including blockbuster shows by the likes of Monet, Rembrandt, Picasso, Dali, Anish Kapoor and Ai Weiwei. The museum's permanent collection houses works of calligraphy and illuminated books, including official Ottoman documents bearing the sultans’ imperial ciphers and calligraphic compositions from the 14th century up to the present. Also within the museum grounds is MSA's Restaurant, helmed by chefs from the Culinary Arts Academy of Istanbul serving delicious, creative and modern Turkish cuisine.

The best art galleries in Istanbul

SALT Galata
Art

SALT Galata

Designed in 1892 by the Frenchborn Levantine architect Alexandre Vallaury for Bank-ı Osmanî Şahane, the SALT Galata building is one of the most handsome structures in the city. The project to re-structure and re-functionalise this space was overseen by Mimarlar Design, under the supervision of Ağa Han-recipient architect, Han Tümertekin. The focus here, of course, was in creating a space that could respond perfectly to SALT’s multi-layered programme needs. The result? In one word, incredible. The stairs, the interventions that Autoban (the masters of reworking marble) did on the marble to draw attention to its production process, the offices, the auditorium, the library... Each one leaves you in awe – even the bathrooms. Could you fall in love with a bathroom? At SALT Galata, it’s quite possible. Moving back outside, where neoclassical and orientalist architectural details grace the front and back facades of the building, you’ll also find the bookshop Robinson Crusoe and a restaurant that Doors Group designed specifically for SALT Galata. One of the institution’s most magnificent, unique areas that touches upon our researching spirit is SALT Research, which opens up digital and printed resources for access. The library located to the left of the entrance is like a temple to the building. This section places the institution’s mission of research, sharing and formation of new ideas in the centre of the building. Nearly 40,000 titles focus on areas such as art, architecture, d

Pilevneli Mecidiyeköy
Art

Pilevneli Mecidiyeköy

In 2017, Murat Pilevneli opened his eponymous gallery in Dolapdere, a blue-collar neighbourhood which had very little to do with art until the opening of Dirimart there in 2016 and the announcement that Arter would be moving into a museum space down the street. In keeping with his penchant for setting up shop in unusual locations, Pilevneli has recently unveiled a second, much bigger space in the Mecidiyeköy business district. The building it occupies has a fascinating history, having been built by the celebrated French architect Robert Mallet-Stevens under Atatürk’s orders, serving as a state-owned liquor and cognac factory for many years. One of the first buildings commissioned by the newly found Turkish Republic, the building was destroyed in 2012 and rebuilt in its original style. Currently owned by the Swiss real estate development company Viatrans, the building is temporarily bequeathed to Pilevneli Gallery.

Mixer
Art

Mixer

Mixer discovers new talents in contemporary art and organises various events with the aim of making art accessible to all, as well as creating a space for visiting/local artists to focus on producing their work. Mixer particularly appeals to collectors of independent and innovative art. The gallery was first located in Tophane, where it opened in 2012, and moved to its current location on Sıraselviler Caddesi in 2015. Both solo and multi-artist shows are put on at Mixer, where young curators have a change to realize their projects.  

Pilot
Art

Pilot

PİLOT, whose current space was occupied by a night club in the 1970s, brings audiences together with local and international artists who have caught the pulse of the future and the contemporary, as well as with works which have left a mark on the past. With its gallery, foyer, office, and presentation area spread out over a 700 m2 space, PİLOT can accommodate a variety of purposes. Adjacent to the main gallery space is Co-PİLOT, which serves in a multi-functional manner and is host to an everchanging slew of talks, screenings, performances, workshops and exhibitions.

Dirimart Dolapdere
Art

Dirimart Dolapdere

Dirimart first opened in its Nişantaşı location in 2002 with an exhibit organized by Komet in which 55 artists participated. Since then, Dirimart has regularly participated in national and international art fairs. In 2016 a second location, designed by architect Markus Dochantschi, opened its doors in Dolapdere. With its office space and statue garden, Dirimart Dolapdere spreads out over a space of 1000 m2.

Ara Güler Musuem
Art

Ara Güler Musuem

Having just opened in Bomontiada, the Ara Güler Museum features the iconic work of legendary Turkish-Armenian photographer Ara Güler, known as the 'eye of Istanbul'. Featuring a rotating cast of exhibitions, the team behind the museum is cataloguing Güler's extensive archive here while planning to turn his longtime studio, the Güler Apartment in Beyoğlu, into a permanent museum.