Siyah Beyaz is one of the most renowned galleries in Turkey. Can you briefly tell us about its 30-year history?
Siyah Beyaz is a family-operated gallery which was founded on Feburary 4th 1984 by Faruk Sade. It’s an institution operated by the family members, who do everything together. Since its foundation, the main goal has always been to support contemporary art. It’s actually the story of pursuing a very personal desire. We do the thing we love; and as gallerists, we also show what we love. It’s that simple. Upon returning from Paris, and under the influence of people he met there, Faruk Sade decided to open a gallery. Siyah Beyaz was at first a single-floor gallery. There was a bar on the one end, gallery on the other. He wished to show contemporary art in the 1984, however the definition of contemporary art in Turkey was yet unclear, which made it quite difficult for him to decide how to proceed. At this point, the bar became a sponsor for the gallery, supporting it financially for its shows. And thus an isolated area was created in Ankara. It was the period of Kenan Evren’s administration, a time of introversion, uneasiness… A time when people were afraid to go out on the street. Siyah Beyaz was almost like an oasis; and its name wasn’t even written on its doorbell. There was no sign of its existence, due to the political conditions. Faruk Sade was a graduate of Middle East Technical University (METU), and so were his friends. In the 1980s all reporters, academics and artists were still living in Ankara anyway. The bar was a meeting point for all these people, and all profits from the bar were used for the gallery. In these 30 years, there are some artists with whom we’ve been together since the first day, until today. I also continue to work with artists from my generation. So one could say that Siyah Beyaz is a homogeneous gallery as it represents artists from various generations.
How is the current situation in Ankara concerning the production and exhibition of contemporary art and the interest of collectors?
We try not to think locally, because it would be quite limiting. If you’re good at what you do, people from all over the world hear about you, the city you’re located in is no more important. Siyah Beyaz has been showing contemporary art in Ankara for 32 years, which means that Ankara supports contemporary art in some way. On the other hand, the fact that Bilkent University, which was the first private university, has been established in Ankara, is quite important, especially considering the freedom it brought with it. Nowadays there are plenty of private universities, however the opening of Bilkent University in 1984 in Ankara, and the foundation of the faculty of fine arts, design and architecture by Erdağ Aksel had significantly supported the art scene back then. We should also not forget the fine arts faculty of Hacettepe University. As for collectors; the collectors in Ankara are of a different kind. There are many people who own comprehensive collections, who still don’t call themselves collectors and aren’t known as such.
Ahmet Ogut, ljubljana ekspresi:10 yillik mesafe, 2014
As a second generation gallerist, how do you see the future of contemporary art in Turkey?
A significant amount of production takes place in the field of contemporary art in Turkey, which can be called the “new blood”. The reason thereof is quite simple actually: European countries in general have a heritage of fine arts literature. However the process in Turkey was influenced by many things, which –intentionally or not– has created a different way of perception which is open-minded. The development is carried further by galleries that were opened in Istanbul after the 2000s, artists who became internationally renowned, art fairs that take place regularly, such as Contemporary Istanbul which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and museums. European contemporary art, which is –if I may say so– “bored of itself”, is excited to see how different ethnic-cultural structures can meet contemporary art, expanding its boundaries. Therefore, discussions of function and content aside, contemporary art in Turkey is in constant growth and it’s creating its own field.
Husamettin Kocan, pencere, 2015
Canan Gezici festival 20.yil sergisi,2014