Fifty Years of Urban Walls, the first full retrospective of Turkish artist Burhan Doğançay, reveals Doğançay’s lifelong fascination with urban society. The son of renowned Turkish painter Adil Doğançay, Doğançay took an interest in art from a young age and began his love affair with urban walls early in his career. Exhibited at Istanbul Modern until 23 September, Doğançay’s works synthesize decades of cultural expression by city dwellers, and endeavor to act as physical manifestations of urban life.
In the 1960s, Doğançay was inspired by the layers of posters, public notices, and graffiti that covered walls in urban environments, and began to recreate these walls through painting and collage. He traveled to over 100 countries to investigate the multifaceted experience of city life, drawing inspiration from popular culture and from the many discordant voices of metropolitan dwellers. The fourteen series on display track Doğançay’s artistic development through distinct periods of self-conscious experimentation and portray dynamic variations on this theme.
Through a perfect marriage of concept and technique, Doğançay insightfully comments on social and political issues whilst experimenting with form and color in a sophisticated manner. In his GREGO’s Walls series, Doğançay calls attention to the psychological condition of disenfranchised youth who are desperate to be heard. In his Cones series, he uses the technique of fumage to create the illusion of rolled and peeling paper. His series, Double Realism, explicitly plays with light and shadow, a sensibility that recurs throughout his work.
By focusing on walls as a visual forum of human interaction, Doğançay has gained insight into the human condition and brings it into his work. His unique perspective on contemporary society has earned him international acclaim, and Fifty Years of Urban Walls offers an opportunity to see his major works on display in his hometown. To appreciate more works of art by Burhan Doğançay and his father, you can also visit their museum Doğançay Museum in Beyoğlu.