Best exhibitions to see in Istanbul now

Best exhibitions to see in Istanbul now

Joshua Bruce Allen
November 17, 2016

It might be cold outside, but the city’s cultural life is by no means frozen. Right now, many of Istanbul’s major galleries are featuring everything from conceptual sculpture, contemporary art from the Balkans, 19th-century French Orientalist painting, a video exploration of an Arab film star, and an artistic club for con men. In this variety we see the art community balancing local and global themes, art history, and possible futures – all of which play a role in Istanbul’s conception of itself.​

Anna Laudel founded Art350 gallery on Bağdat Caddesi four years ago, and now a new space under her name has opened on Bankalar Caddesi: Anna Laudel contemporary. The opening exhibition "When did we stop playing..." is a collaboration with one of Berlin's premier art agencies, Bernheimer Contemporary. This is a rare opportunity to feel the pulse of Berlin's art scene in a single gallery in Istanbul. Until February 12.

Burak Delier - Free Society of Fools and Crooks. Photo by Rıdvan Bayrakoğlu

After two years of research on Turkish and foreign con men and women, Burak Delier opened his "Free Society of Fools and Crooks" at Pilot Gallery. The stories of scams go beyond greed, showing a warped mirror to the lies and fictions of normal society. The Turkish con men are also a part of Istanbul urban legend that everyone should know - especially Sülün Osman's trick of selling the Galata Bridge. Until January 1.

Rania Stephen

Lebanese artist Rania Stephen takes a dark and surreal look at Egyptian film star Souad Hosni, who fell to her death from her London apartment in 2001. Hosni appeared in over 75 films and was an icon across the Arab world. Stephen's splicing of erotic, violent, and hysterical scenes from Hosni's films has a definite Lynchian feel. Another of Stephen's films focuses on Stuart Tower, the building where Hosni died. At Alt Bomonti Until February 5.​

Rahmi Aksungur

Sculptor Rahmi Aksungur presents his exhibition EU/48/6/N at the Elgiz Museum until February 4, 2017. This accomplished artist and former rector of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University has been active for almost 30 years, with exhibitions across the country and commissions such as the State Cemetery in Ankara, which is the largest area of sculpture in Turkey.​

Felix Ziem

Frenchman Felix Ziem was one of the most unique artists to visit Istanbul in the 19th century. In place of the typical Orientalist tropes, Ziem’s paintings exoticize the landscape itself through rearrangements of the actual view and by emphasizing the romantic light over the city’s waterways. The exhibition Felix Ziem: Wanderer on the Sea of Light continues at the Pera Museum until January 29, 2017.​

Cold front from the Balkans

For residents of Istanbul, the phrase “Cold front from the Balkans” is familiar from the winter weather reports, foretelling freezing winds in the city streets. In the Pera Museum exhibition of the same name, we might call this the winds of history, or the winds of change. See artists Maja Bajević, Braco Dimitrijević, Vadim Fishkin, IRWIN, Laibach, Mladen Miljanović, Ivan Moudov, OHO, Dan Perjovschi, Mladen Stilinović, Ulay, and Sislej Xhafa there until May 7, 2017.​