Tag Archives: international art fairs

Anish is bliss


Anish Kapoor
Me and my art buddy.

Every weekend for the past month, I’ve been climbing stairs, high and low, and in and out of a variety of city districts, to look at contemporary art in this great city. The 13th Istanbul Biennale started on September 14, 2013, and a wide variety of galleries, museums and public art spaces have put their best foot forward. Amazing exhibitions and installations are being shown from one corner of the city to another.

Before I left the USA, I was reading many blogs about Istanbul written by people that were living here. When the riots started in June, I used these sources to stay abreast on the conditions in the neighborhoods that I soon would call home. Through my research, I came across a blog that I enjoyed because of the rich photos and personal commentary. After reading many articles, I decided to write the author and compliment her on her work of maintaining her blog. As it turns out, she wrote me back. Then I wrote again, etc., etc., and low and behold, once I moved here in August, we met face-to-face and have become friends. She, too, is an artist and we both belong to PAWI (Professional American Women in Istanbul) and Artists in Istanbul. My new friend, who has lived here almost a year, knows the city, and its language, better than I do. With Google maps in hand (and on iPhone), we’ve started conquering these exhibitions, one neighborhood at a time.

When I step into these venues, and catch my breath, I think, “I’m going to write about this!” but then I go to the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that, and by the end of the day, I’m completely confused on what to write about. Too much to choose from! Today, I’ve decided to share with you photos from the stellar Anish Kapoor show at Sakip Sabanci Muzesi, north past Babek and close to the shores of the Bosphorus.

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Anish Kapoor is an Indian-Brit. His work being shown here in Istanbul covers the last 25 years of his career. As I looked at the monumental pieces of steel and marble I kept wondering how they got here; how did those enormous pieces make their way into this beautiful, but crowded, neighborhood on the Bosphorus? I rode the bus to get there and it took an hour. It’s not that far of distance, but the roads were so crowded with cars, motorcycles, buses, melon carts, pedestrians that it felt like I’d never arrive. Did the sculptures float up the Bosphorus on a barge? Did they arrive on a truck up the steep hills of the city? This would have been an interesting installation to see!

Americans may know his large, chrome-like “bean” the best. It sits in Chicago’s Millennium Park and is wildly popular. The sculpture’s title is actually, Cloud Gate and, although it went way over budget (to the tune of about $25 million) the city of Chicago and its residents love it! His most recent piece, Ark Nova, is a one-of-a-kind inflatable concert hall in Japan.

I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves. The work was mesmerizing and provoked curiosity. How did he do this? Were the pieces fabricated by machines? How many assistants does he have? I’m so fortunate to have been able to see this exhibition. It’s up through January sometime in the event you want to see it!

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A Global Commodity

Art and pork bellies.

One hundred thirty eight years ago, in 1874, a group of artists gathered in Paris to show their artwork to the public inside a former photographer’s studio. Many of these artists had been rejected by the Salon, the royally sanctioned French institution that determined if artwork was acceptable, satisfactory and superior. The influence of the Salon was absolutely undisputed, and for an artist to exhibit in their space meant their artwork was excellent. The artist was almost fully guaranteed to be successful. After being rejected from showing their work at the Salon, several artists set up their own exhibition and the public ridicule commenced. Not only were their paintings thought of as crudely rendered, they had disregarded the element of line and changed the color of objects and landscapes from the appearance of reality! (Can you imagine!!) According to the historical critique, The Exhibition of the Revoltes, written by Emile Cardon for La Presse, the artists’ “scribblings” both sickened and disgusted. One can imagine how horrible these paintings must have looked to have received such a disparaging description. How embarrassing, right? Didn’t these artists know how horrible their work was? Why on earth would they go to such measures to invite criticism? Often, contemporary art is described in this way. You may be surprised to learn that these rebellious, seemingly untalented artists, who refused to accept the jurors’ assessment, are none other than some of the 21st century’s most beloved artists:  Monet, Degas, Cezanne and Renoir.

Throughout history, it is not uncommon for the public to disregard the cutting edge artwork being produced and exhibited in the current culture. We’ve all known incidences in which people say, when walking through a gallery or museum, “My kindergartner could have done that.”

But the fact is . . . they didn’t.

In The History of Impressionism, author, John Rewald says, “It requires tremendous courage and limitless faith to overcome such adversities…” He goes on to say, “How hard it must be for the timid, and even for the self-confident and ambitious, for the poor, and even for the rich, to stand up under constant derision without being paralyzed in their creative efforts!”

Over the past month, I’ve attended three contemporary art fairs. The first one was the Dallas Art Fair, where I live, and the other two were in New York: Pulse and Frieze, which are both international in scope. Granted, some of what I saw bewildered even me, a professional, contemporary artist who has been making and exhibiting art for 30 years. Yet, I was truly inspired by most pieces I saw. As a working artist, I know the dedication and courage it takes to both produce the work and then to put it on public display. My skin has become thick enough that negative commentary about my work bounces off, for the most part.

The courage that is necessary to produce and exhibit a piece of artwork is not dissimilar to the courage needed to break out of the routine life many of us find ourselves in. When people become brave enough to mold their lives in an unconventional way, whether through travel or career, many people are quick to condemn. Life is short. Do what your heart is leading you to do. Be brave. Do it. There may be many who condemn, but surprisingly, you are sure to find a community that will support you. And once you become brave enough to start forming words to verbally express what you are considering, you will begin to hear the applause from your fans and well-wishers.

Build it and they will come.

In this excellent episode on 60 Minutes, Morley Safer describes the current, contemporary art scene, as it relates to international art fairs and the global economy.  It is well worth your time to watch.

It is encouraging to hear that when our world economy suffers, contemporary art is thriving. Please watch and tell me how you’ve been brave!

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