5/17/2024 - 8/11/2024

Painting Today

Yapı Kredi Culture and Art

  • Painting Today - ana görsel

Exhibiting works from the last five years by artists who live, breathe and think through painting, and passionately so, “Painting Today” brings various generations and tendencies to convene. Within the context of the exhibition, “painting today” is being used in two senses: first in order to emphasise the subjects, forms and approaches adopted by contemporary painting; second to underscore the current social atmosphere, and its socio-political picture. Is there any other art medium that is as discussed, as old and worn, and yet remains as loved and contemporary as painting is? Under the current pluralistic art environment, where a wide variety of media are being brought into play, painting continues to provide a strong and fertile space for thinking. Emphasising how painting is neither market nor populism-oriented, but rather rests on solid critical ground, the exhibition reminds us of how painting as a medium prioritises imagination. The exhibition’s title, which underscores the performative dimension of painting as an action, draws attention to gestures and processes rather than static phenomena. Through an intensive research process, “Painting Today” was conceived in full awareness of the inherent difficulties any attempt at assembling a comprehensive exhibition involves. Therefore, the curatorial process, which adopted an almost instinctive approach, mindful of maintaining subjective and objective balances, brought about a pluralistic exhibition, which articulates a choreography of its own, screening through current painting tendencies. 

During our meetings with the artists, either by visiting their studios or by holding conversations, we emphasised how the exhibition was not intended as thematic, but rather artist and painting-centred. This issue was important for two main reasons: the first was our intention to circumvent the difficulties that often arise in thematic group exhibitions, due to the reduction of the artist’s broader approach to one work fitting in the curatorial framework in accordance with a specific topic. In other words, we wanted to avoid the misreadings that are likely to result from focusing on the theme rather than the work itself. The second reason was our eagerness to divert artists away from the concern of having to produce works in accordance with the exhibition concept. Thematic exhibitions, which have been predominant in museums and art institutions over the last twenty years, inevitably tend to cause artists to work mainly in line with certain subjects. Such topics may be grounded in artists’ personal and genuine curiosities, feelings and research interests, or they can sometimes be temporary and hollow, like seasonal crazes, dictated from the outside, and sometimes even extremely short-lived. Therefore, we told the artists who enquired about the theme of the exhibition that it did not have a specific one, and that its focus was to shed light on the participating artists’ recent paintings.  

While working on painting, a medium whose boundaries extend far and wide, we felt the need to set certain limits. First and foremost, we strove to screen contemporary painting styles by focusing on the last five years. Second of all, considering that sketching and drawing, both being painting techniques in and of themselves, require separate research, we chose to keep them off the ambit of this exhibition. Lastly, we resolved to include paintings which outstep the contingency of the canvas, yet without stealing the focus of the exhibition away from the canvas either. As it happens, the tradition of expanded painting, which statufies painting and carries it further beyond the canvas, exerts a considerable influence on painting nowadays. 

As phrased by American painter Dana Lok, who presents us with impressive plays on words, colours and materials in her compositions, “the first look at a painting is precious.” The vi-sual experience which this moment consists in could perhaps be compared to the occurrence of love at first sight. The more time we spend with a painting, the more we either understand, come closer, or, on the contrary, distance ourselves from it. “Painting Today” aims to open up a space where the viewer experiences the very sensation of fulfilment that only this first magical moment looking at a painting can engender. We invite everyone who wants to immerse themselves in painting to step through this mysterious door. Those willing to commit to an inner exploration alongside those ready to engage with the outer world. 

The complete text can be found at the exhibition catalogue. 




Ahu Akgün, Figen Aydıntaşbaş, Can Aytekin, Gökhun Baltacı, Taner Ceylan, Antonio Cosentino, Cansu Çakar, Timur Çelik, Fulya Çetin, Rojbin Ekinci, Eda Gecikmez, Leylâ Gediz, Tayfun Gülnar, Hakan Gürsoytrak, Onur Kılıç, İhsan Oturmak, Toygun Özdemir, Yağız Özgen, Deniz Pasha, Kirkor Sahakoğlu, Rugül Serbest, Yaz Taşçı, Sevil Tunaboylu, Derya Ülker, Gülnihal Yıldız, Nalan Yırtmaç, Ecem Yüksel ve Erdoğan Zümrütoğlu.


Burcu Çimen, Didem Yazıcı

Exhibition Highlights