In the summer of 2011 I was approached by Galata Yapı - an Istanbul-based Architects firm who are currently playing a key role in the gentrification process around Istanbul's Beyoğlu area - with a proposal to curate one of the most visible outdoor mural projects in Istanbul's nascent public Art history.
The company was given the job of renovating the historic Rauna Apartment on Istiklal Caddesi (Istanbul's version of Oxford Street) and were to board up the exterior of the building during this process. They contacted me asking if I could find some exciting young artists to paint on these gigantic boards, effectively creating what would be the largest, open-air, free exhibition in this location to date.
Bearing in mind how seldom such things happen, and the general lack of wide-spread dissemination of current artists works amongst the general public, I seized this rare opportunity to showcase a range of talents who I felt best described the variety of 2D works (Painting, Mural, Street Art) being produced by current Artists living and working in Istanbul, as fitting the brief.
Due to space constraints I could only choose three artists, so I decided to showcase a short-but-sweet selection of artists at different stages in their careers who each have a different relation-ship to exhibiting, thus giving a sort of mini 'who's who' or 'what's hot' for Istanbul in mid-2011.
CINS is what one might call a typical 'street artist'. Although he has shown work in more traditional exhibitions (usually on a smaller scale) like many of his contemporaries, he is through-and-through an artist who has developed his practice and executed the results on walls, streets and any other number of flat, public spaces - evidently results of a practice stemming from a background in graffiti. I wanted him to take part so as to showcase some of Istanbul's greatest mural works in a context where they would be seen by thousands of people daily, much as graffiti tends to do, but to take this to it's logical extreme by allowing this to be done on what is arguably Istanbul's busiest pedestrian street. This would be a dream-come-true for any graffiti-artist.
SİNEM YILDIRIM is an Art student whose works are much like illustrations, except on a much larger, mural scale. Her cute, cartoonish characters, bold colours and attention to detail would be well-suited to a public domain where individuals of all ages are subject to passing through, thus allaying any fears of unsuitable subject material. I chose her not only because of the approachability of her subject material (school girls in uniform) but also because I wanted to visitor to get a sense of what level of work is being produced by current university students, the so called 'up-and-coming' or 'next-generation' of young Turkish Artists.
ERKUT TERLİKSİZ is an Artist who has recently shown in Saatchi Gallery and is now at a stage In his career where he is busy attending international Arts-festivals and exhibitions. His participation shows us the current works or an artist who is slowly becoming internationally renowned, one of the current 'ones-to-watch' amongst Turkish Artists.