Artistic innovation and resilience shine at Contemporary Istanbul 2023

 Artistic innovation and resilience shine at Contemporary Istanbul 2023

The 18th edition of Contemporary Istanbul, a renowned international art fair, has captured the imagination of art enthusiasts and collectors alike. Set against the backdrop of a historic Ottoman-era shipyard on the shores of the Bosphorus, this year’s event has not only showcased the vibrancy of contemporary Turkish art but also the resilience and adaptability of the global art community.

Historical Venue Revitalized
The fair takes place in a shipyard with a storied history dating back to the 15th century when it was used as imperial shipyards by the Ottomans. After decades of disuse, Tabanlıoğlu Architects, led by Murat Tabanlıoğlu and Melkan Gürsel, have undertaken the task of transforming this area into a thriving hub of art, culture, and commerce. The shipyard is now home to galleries, shops, restaurants, and apartments, providing an ideal setting for the convergence of contemporary art.

Celebrating Contemporary Turkish Art
With 67 galleries and eight art initiatives from 22 countries, Contemporary Istanbul 2023 is a testament to the global reach of contemporary art. Remarkably, half of the works displayed at the fair are by Turkish artists, highlighting the nation’s deep connection with the art world. As Turkey celebrates its 100th anniversary as a republic, this art fair becomes a poignant reflection of modern Turkish culture.

Artistic Highlights
Among the standout works at the fair is legendary Turkish artist Bedri Baykam’s limited edition “Art History Map.” This intricate piece offers a historical journey through global culture since the 13th century, showcasing luminaries from both Western and non-Western worlds.

Visitors also encountered a striking neon and metal sculpture by Itamar Gov at Zilberman Gallery. Titled “Refuge of All Strangers,” this piece prompts contemplation on the dichotomy between sanctuary and exile in our ever-evolving world.

Erdal Duman’s dark red metal sculpture at Artsumer, initially appearing beautiful, reveals itself as a representation of a bomb. Duman’s use of various media to craft symbolic weaponry and power symbols underscores the theme of fetishization and its consequences.

Spotlight on Photography
A notable addition to this year’s fair is the spotlight on photography. Curated by Simone Klein, former Head of European Photography at Sotheby’s, the “Contemporary Istanbul Photo Focus” features 21 artists from eight countries. The intentional scattering of photographic works throughout the fair emphasizes the equal significance of photography as an art form.

The Yard: An Outdoor Exhibition
In the outdoor courtyard of Contemporary Istanbul, “The Yard” offers an exhibition of sculptures curated by Marc-Oliver Wahler, Director of Le Musée d’art et d’histoire (MAH) in Geneva. These sculptures and installations breathe life into industrial objects, creating a dynamic interaction with the environment.

Economic Resilience Amid Challenges
Contemporary Istanbul 2023 takes place against the backdrop of economic challenges and political uncertainties in Turkey. Despite these hurdles, the art fair remains undeterred, reflecting the resilience of the global art market.


As Contemporary Istanbul 2023 unfolds within the historic shipyard, it serves as a testament to the enduring power of art to unite cultures, challenge perceptions, and inspire innovation. With its celebration of Turkish art and the global art community’s resilience, this event offers a glimpse into the vibrant world of contemporary creativity.