An eleventh hour change of name did little to dampen exhibitor enthusiasm for Istanbul’s newest art fair.
Does the controversial name change of the inaugural art fair in Istanbul bode well for the event’s future? ArtInternational Istanbul, sued by a rival fair, had to legally change its name to ArtInternational within days of the opening. New name in place, the three-day event kicked off with great fanfare at the Haliç Congress Centre in Istanbul on 16 September 2013.
Things did not start out smoothly for the inaugural ArtIstanbul art fair at the Haliç Congress Centre in Istanbul (16 to 18 September 2013). Only days before opening, organisers were forced to change the event’s name to ArtInternational.
According to The Art Newspaper, Ikon Fuarcılık, the organisers of Contemporary Istanbul, took legal action against Fiera Milano Interteks (the founders of ArtInternational) in what they deemed was copyright infringement of the name of the fair. A regional court judge gave a temporary ruling, and the case will be decided towards the end of the month.
Despite the legal wranglings, the new international art fair of Modern and Contemporary art opened to great acclaim, with a total of 62 art galleries from Turkey, the Middle East, Europe and the United States participating. Even with the strong international participation, the spotlight remained on the art from the Middle East.
Notable foreign galleries included Yvon Lambert, Paris; Lisson Gallery, London; Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco; Pace, Beijing, London, New York; Lumen Travo Gallery, Amsterdam; ARNDT, Berlin; and Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai.
According to Arie Amaya-Akkermans from The Culture Trip, there were two obvious trends seen in the fair: a return to contemporary painting, overshadowing photography, digital and conceptual works, and a strong showing of Middle Eastern art by both regional and international galleries.
ArtInternational coincided with the Istanbul Biennial, which received criticism for not being socio-politically daring enough, according to The Guardian. Curated by Fulya Erdemci, the 13th Istanbul Biennial, titled “Mom, am I barbarian?”, (14 September to 20 October 2013) takes the notion of politicised space as its central theme.
Exhibitors at the fair reported relatively strong sales and a good mix of international participants and collectors. Wendi Norris of Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco, told Art Radar:
It has been great to see some of my clients from Dubai, Saudi Arabia and other parts of the region. I sold six works by Mexican/American artist Julio Cesar Morales on opening night, and sales continue to trickle in including works by Lionel Bawden. The fair is well curated, and I would hope to see more local collectors before the fair closes in order to give international galleries increased confidence in the fair, especially because Istanbul is such an ideal locale.
Üstüngel Inanç, Public Relations Manager of Rampa Gallery, spoke to Art Radar about exhibiting at ArtIstanbul.
What is your impression of the ArtInternational art fair?
I think all Turkish galleries would agree that the general artistic level of the fair is very high. It is a nice venue; you can go out and sit by the sea in the sun whenever you feel tired of marching the aisles. It gives a break from the bustle of the city.
It is the first time that galleries like Lisson, Pace [and] Leila Heller are showing in Istanbul. There are so many established artists on view next to each other, and it is a first and a great opportunity for the Turkish audience to see so many art works of such prominent artists from all over the world. I believe this is an important task that the fair has already secured in the first edition.
What were your sales like?
Our sales went quite well. We sold nearly half of what we brought in the first two hours. As the second day was Monday, we were thinking that the fair would be empty, and the sales would stop; but we were proved wrong. The second day of the fair went just as well as the Vernissage.
What type of collectors were there?
I am also very happy to say that the sales were made not only to Turkish collectors whom we already know, but to an international list of buyers. The fair has attracted international collectors from all over the world, especially from the Middle East. There were many important collectors from the region.
Which of your artists sold?
Were there any drawbacks?
There were some technical flaws that need to be corrected like natural light coming from the windows, and I know that generally the foreign galleries had a hard time during the set up period, which was much too short. But in general, I believe that the fair has been a success.
What do you predict for this art fair?
There were many foreign journalists walking around, so we will hear a lot about the fair in the coming days. I think the future of this fair lies in the question of how much the foreign galleries sell? A positive answer will surely determine their happy return to Istanbul.
- Turkey’s art in troubled times – September 2013 – Istanbul gallerists describe today’s contemporary art scene in Turkey
- Turkish art market: ignored no longer – CNN – February 2012 – Turkish contemporary art is booming
- 12th Istanbul Biennale: women artists and emerging regions stand out – November 2011 – Art Radar looks at the highlights of an unconventional biennial
- Art so fresh it’s still wet at Contemporary Istanbul – video – December 2010 – five gallery representatives talk about the Turkish art fair
- Turkish art another fad? The lowdown on this new market – March 2009 – Art Radar interviews ArtTactic managing director about the Turkish art market
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