Women Artists: Istanbul Modern Showcases a ‘Place Called Earth’ by Selma Gurbuz

Women Artists: Istanbul Modern Showcases a 'Place Called Earth' by Selma Gurbuz

Istanbul Modern continues to make female artists visible in Turkey.

The latest exhibition in the series is a solo show, A Place Called Earth by Selma Gurbuz, whose 35 year career is visualised through thematic stops.

Istanbul Modern, one of the primary spaces for modern and contemporary artists in Turkey, is showcasing the work of Selma Gurbuz, 60, for the first time under the roof of a museum in the country. Her work is independent of time and space, woven with stories, myths and tales, and finely wrought.

The exhibition named “Selma Gurbuz: A Place Called Earth” collects artworks from throughout 35 years of her career, and can be viewed between November 5, 2020 and March 21, 2021.

The exhibition focuses on work that has not been previously shown, including digital work. There are more than a hundred pieces in the exhibition, comprising painting, installation, drawing, video and sculpture.

Istanbul Modern refers to the exhibition as “a comprehensive show of the past finding life in today’s lines, civilisations, the search for intercultural synthesis” and calls Gurbuz’s work “becoming further refined over the years”. Even when her works seem far from today’s reality, they tell the viewer about life, the passage of time, and people’s stance in this cycle.

Gurbuz tells different stories with each piece: she shares dreams, fears, inner journeys, life and death themes in our collective memory with the viewer, demanding that we face and overcome them. As she uses elements from Persian, Iranian, Turkish miniature and the art of the Far East, she is familiar with Western painting as well and uses it in her work.

According to Istanbul Modern’s press statement, “the world the artist invites the viewer to, human and animal forms are portrayed as inseparable from each other.”

The artist produced works after her visit to Africa, displaying the generous, warm, sometimes dangerous nature of the continent and intersecting lives of humans and animals.

In a statement, Istanbul Modern chairwoman, Oya Eczacibasi, says “Thanks to our ‘Female Artists Fund’ that aims to help women artists produce and increase their representation, I am happy to announce we have purchased Selma Gurbuz’s ‘Birbirimize Iyi Bakalim (Let’s Take Good Care of Each Other)’ for the Istanbul Modern Art Museum collection.”
Eczacibasi concludes by saying “I hope the exhibition which will reveal traces of the rich inner world of the artist will make all viewers feel good in these trying times we are going through.”

Istanbul Modern Senior Curator Oyku Ozsoy also speaks about the exhibition, calling it “beyond an exhibition but … a visual encyclopaedia. It offers us the nomadic spirit of the artist that travels between geographies, eras, cultures, the subjects she has painstakingly collected regarding humans, nature, life.”

During the pre-show, Gurbuz notes that this was her first solo exhibition after three years. “This is a very special exhibition for me, because my recent work will be seen together for the first time, and at the same time, it will bring together works from different eras of my art career. It is not exactly a retrospective, but it is close to one thanks to the number of works on display and the breadth of my work.”

Gurbuz thanks Istanbul Modern, saying that she finds each exhibition is a challenge, and no one is the final word for her, as “my head is always full [of ideas and feelings].”

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