Photograph : Cihan Öncü
EFE KORKUT KURT: Where do you see yourself within the local and international contemporary art scene?
TANER CEYLAN: I think it will be better if we talk about my art, instead of just me. In Turkey I experienced a difficult period with my art, as it wasn’t accepted by the public at first. However it has finally reached a point where people recognize its value. As I often say, I’ve always done what I believed was right, and it’s been this way since I was an art student. And when you act according to your beliefs, you earn what you deserve. In addition to my success in Turkey, or maybe independent from it, my art has been circulating in the global art world for many years. Currently I’m more active abroad than I am in Turkey – I’m taking part in international events, shows, projects. It’s because I try to avoid labeling myself as an “artist from Turkey”, instead trying to create art that addresses the whole world, and letting my works define me. I deal with the issues of art and art history.
Satyr II, 84X107cm, Oil on Canvas, 2015
E.K.K: What are your predictions for the future, with regard to both the creation of art and institutional/organizational practices in Istanbul?
T.C: A significant amount of art is produced in Istanbul. Young artists, collectives, commercial and non-profit art spaces, existing galleries of institutions and institutes, and contemporary art museums that are announced to be opened soon… Yet, at this point in time, Istanbul doesn’t play a decisive role in art anymore. Just five years ago it was very different, there was a potential then, the world had its eyes on Istanbul – but not anymore. People who used this period to their advantage have built their contacts. We have to keep in mind that our art scene is trying to survive without outside help. Galleries and art institutions are trying to stand on their own feet. Things don’t look very pleasant for the near future. I think the key player here are artists, initiatives, alternative and independent art events – it’s their actions that will play an important role in shaping the future. But I think we have to address and evaluate this issue correctly. I hope that everything will be better in the future, setting aside the political-economic situation and similar issues. We shouldn’t forget the fact that art isn’t a momentary story or an act; it is timeless. Turkish art scene has gone through similar periods before… We’ll live and see.
Ingres, 90X121cm, Oil on Canvas, 2015
E.K.K: You’re working with Paul Kasmin Gallery. Concerning your artistic career, what are the advantages of working with one of the most significant galleries in New York? Based on your experiences in Turkey, which differences do you see between the attitudes of galleries in Istanbul and New York?
T.C: I’ve been working with Paul Kasmin Gallery for three years. Together we’ve held two solo shows: “Lost Painting Series” and “We Now Must Say Goodbye”. We’ve taken part in plenty of fairs and projects – there are also upcoming events… I can say that they are quite the professionals. They really work for their artists, coming up with new ways and projects. Furthermore, the way Paul Kasmin approaches his artists makes you feel like you’re in family. To be honest, I hadn’t spent much time with my gallerist in Turkey. As Paul Kasmin is a gallery that invests in its artists, takes care of them and exchanges ideas with them; I find our relationship is of a more “fair” nature, which sets it apart from what I’ve experienced in Turkey.
Satyr I, 84X107cm, Oil on Canvas, 2015