WE HAD A PLEASANT CHAT RECENTLY WITH AHMET GÜNEŞTEKIN, WHO SPECIALLY CREATED ONE OF SKYLIFE’S MOST IMPRESSIVE COVERS FOR THE MAGAZINE’S YUNUS EMRE FEATURE ARTICLE.
Normally bought and sold in Turkey, Turkish contemporary art continues to gain admirers and awareness in the international arena thanks to Ahmet Güneştekin’s work. In a magnificent opening, Güneştekin, who has held numerous international shows, most recently launched his first solo exhibition at the New York branch of the Marlborough Gallery, one of the world’s foremost art institutions. It is the prestigious gallery’s first time to host an artist from Turkey. We talked with Güneştekin about the show and about Skylife.
Skylife is celebrating its 30th anniversary. You created a very special cover for the magazine. What would you like to say about Skylife?
My acquaintance with Skylife goes back to 1986. I have read the magazine with interest and pleasure ever since. Skylife magazine compiles and presents quality and refined features on the treasures of our cultural geography and promotes Turkey in the way she deserves. I congratulate everyone whose efforts go into it.
You recently opened your first solo show at the Marlborough Gallery. How did the idea of a show there come about?
I held the first in a series of 2012 international exhibitions at Istanbul Entrepôt No. 3 in November and December of that year. As it did in Turkey, that show aroused a lot of interest in different countries around the world. One of those who took an interest was New York Times correspondent, Susanne Güsten, who wrote up her impressions of the show, which appeared as a full page in the International Herald Tribune, now The International New York Times. The directors of the Marlborough Gallery saw that article and started following me. I was inducted into the gallery’s artists on May 8 of this year. The first artistic event in which I took part as a Marlborough artist was realized as part of the 8th Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair, November 7 to 10, which also included the works of world-renowned artists like Picasso, Botero and Swarowski. The current show, “Ahmet Güneştekin: Recent Works”, has the distinction of being the first solo show I have held under the auspices of the Marlborough Gallery outside Turkey and in New York.
What is the perception of Turkish contemporary art in the international arena?
The way artists in Turkey have been opening up more to the outside world of late is an historic phenomenon. Their participation in international art events is important, as is their inclusion among the artists of the leading galleries. What’s more, our private museums are finally bringing the world’s great artists to Turkey, thanks to which there is an attempt to ensure some coordination with the international art world in terms both of quality and of events, and that has a positive effect on how Turkey is perceived in the international art arena.
What has been the initial response of American art lovers to your show?
The show has been widely promoted, but in addition to that I’ve also met a lot of people who heard about it by word of mouth. They came across something new in this show that really excited them. New colors, legends encountered for the first time, textures, compositions - all must have captured their interest because what they are looking for is something beyond originality: “unique originality”. One of the most palpable signs of that is that some very prominent collectors were interested in the works exhibited there and added them to their collections.