A Revamped Fair Edition: Insights from Contemporary Istanbul 2017 – round-up

Contemporary Istanbul reports strong sales and visitorship presence over one week.

Art Radar takes a look at the performance of the fair’s 12th edition, which featured 73 galleries from over 25 cities with 1500 artworks on show.

View of Contemporary Istanbul 2017, 14 – 17 September 2017. Image courtesy of Contemporary Istanbul

View of Contemporary Istanbul 2017, 14 – 17 September 2017. Image courtesy Contemporary Istanbul.

With galleries from Istanbul, Dubai, London and New York gathering in two venues, the Istanbul Congress Centre (ICC) and Istanbul Convention and Exhibition Centre (ICEC), this year’s edition of Contemporary Istanbul saw a record number of both exhibitors and visitors alike. Alongside a revamped public programme line-up, visitors were also treated to 1500 artworks on show from leading galleries across Europe, the United States and Asia.

View of Contemporary Istanbul 2017, 14 – 17 September 2017. Image courtesy Contemporary Istanbul.

View of Contemporary Istanbul 2017, 14 – 17 September 2017. Image courtesy Contemporary Istanbul.

Important Artwork Sales

Gallerists reported an “enthusiastic crowd”, with many local and international collectors as well as artists in attendance. Sales were also reportedly strong from the day of the preview itself, with pieces such as one of Yayoi Kusama‘s “Infinity Nets” series being sold. Other pieces by major artists also include Spanish modern artist Manolo Valdes, by New York/London gallery Marlborough Contemporary. Turkish artists were also not left out: works by Fahrelnissa Zeid, the pioneer of modern art in Turkey, who currently has an exhibition at the Tate Modern (London) also sold well during the fair.

 Fahrelnissa Zeid, Three Ways Of Living (War), 1943, 125 x 205cm, private collection, photography by Atahan Yılmaz, Courtesy of Dirimart Gallery. Contemporary Istanbul, 14 – 17 September 2017, www.contemporaryistanbul.com.

Fahrelnissa Zeid, ‘Three Ways Of Living (War)’, 1943, 125 x 205 cm, private collection. Photo: Atahan Yılmaz. Image courtesy Dirimart Gallery.

Record Visitor Numbers and New Exhibitors

With a total number of over 80,000 visitors recorded, Contemporary Istanbul hits an all-new high in terms of visitorship. The director of Contemporary Istanbul, Kamiar Maleki adds:

The fair has transformed over the past 12 years, showcasing an increasingly high quality and variety of work and building up to be one of the leading fairs in the world […]. In particular, our new exhibitors have enjoyed interacting with the international and local collectors at the fair and have had strong interest and sales.

Galleries such as Victoria Miro from London also revealed that Contemporary Istanbul had brought in a “busy stand”, with “exceptional interest from sophisticated and knowledgeable collectors”. With the fair running alongside the Istanbul Biennial, which opened on 16 September 2017, alongside other prominent museum shows, the fair was uniquely positioned against the backdrop of a burgeoning arts scene in Istanbul this year. 29 new exhibitors were also added to the line up in 2017, with galleries such as ARCHEUS/POST-MODERN from London, NK Gallery from Antwerp and Parasite from Tel Aviv joining existing exhibitors.

View of Plugin at Contemporary Istanbul 2017, 14 – 17 September 2017. Image courtesy Contemporary Istanbul.

View of Plugin at Contemporary Istanbul 2017, 14 – 17 September 2017. Image courtesy Contemporary Istanbul.

An Expanded Public Programme

Coupled with higher exhibitor and visitorship numbers was the expansion of public programming at this year’s edition of Contemporary Istanbul. With an emphasis on collaboration and partnership, Contemporary Istanbul 2017 saw new platforms being added to its programming. Of particular note was the fair’s first ever outdoor contemporary sculpture exhibition in a public park. Held in the Artists’ Park adjacent to the fair, the sculpture exhibition, entitled “The Fifth Edition”, was curated by Prof Hasan Bülent Kahraman.

Held in collaboration with the Şişli Municipality, the exhibition served as an extension to the main fair and included artists such as Erdağ Aksel, Jan Fabre, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Osman Dinç and Tony Cragg. Another specially curated section exhibited during Contemporary Istanbul is the “Plugin” new-media section, now in its fifth year running. Dedicated to new media art and curated by Ceren and Irmak Arkman, the exhibition showcases artists working with new media as an integral part of their practice, such as Félix Luque, Memo Akten and onformative.

Grayson Perry, 'Red Carpet', 2017, Tapestry, 247 x 252 cm. Copyright Grayson Perry. Image courtesy the artist, Paragon Contemporary Editions Ltd. and Victoria Miro, London. Contemporary Istanbul, 14 – 17 September 2017, www.contemporaryistanbul.com.

Grayson Perry, ‘Red Carpet’, 2017, tapestry, 247 x 252 cm. © Grayson Perry. Image courtesy the artist, Paragon Contemporary Editions Ltd. and Victoria Miro, London.

New Collaborative Horizons for the Future

The fair will return next year from 13 to 16 September 2018. With a focus on partnership and collaboration, the fair outlines its vision for continuing to promote Istanbul as a unique visual art scene. Founder and Chairman Ali Güreli emphasised a collaborative spirit in promoting this vision, stating that

It has been great to instigate and witness the cooperation with important stakeholders at this significant artistic moment in Istanbul which has proven to be an amazing and unique time in Istanbul’s cultural calendar […]. We aim to drive forward more collaborative initiatives in an effort to continue propelling Istanbul towards being an even stronger international player.

With an international reach, collaborative approach and vibrant local arts scene, Contemporary Istanbul is primed to develop into a main fixture on the list of must-see art fairs for international art collectors and lovers alike. Pushing itself onto the radar of the global art landscape, Contemporary Istanbul is an art fair to watch in the years to come.

Junni Chen

1864

Related topics: Turkish artistsnew mediapromoting art, market watch, art fairs, events in Istanbul

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