A story-like exhibition goes on display in İstanbul

What would the 1917 painting called “İftar Sofrası” (İftar Table) by Turkish artist Hoca Ali Rıza and a 17th century still life by Italian artist Giovan Battista Ruoppolo have to say to each other if they could talk?

Or what about two paintings, one by Ferruh Başağa and one by Marco Tirelli, if they were hung side by side and had a voice? The curator of this exhibition, Walter Guadagnini, says, “Actually, I am not the curator, but the storyteller here.” He also says that these pieces in fact all speak quietly to each other, whispering much about the worlds that surround them as they share the same exhibition area.

“PastPresentFuture” has opened at İstanbul’s Yapı Kredi Cultural Center, and ultimately invites dialogue between eras to take place. Curator Guadagnini is also the head of the UniCredit & Art Scientific Commission Board. The exhibition covers a 400-year period of European art history, and aims to create an atmosphere of dialogue not only between different eras, but also between different languages.

Exhibition changes according to host city

The range of pieces included in “PastPresentFuture” is wide, varying from old paintings from artists such as Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo and Dosso Dossi, to collages from Kurt Schwitters, oil paintings by Giorgio de Chirico, and installations by artists Tony Cragg, Stephan Balkenhol and Giulio Paolini. There are also photographs from Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth.

As for the Turkish component, there are paintings from masters such as Osman Hamdi Bey, Hoca Ali Rıza and Ferruh Başağa. Describing the exhibition, curator Guadagnini says: “Our cultural heritage needs to be supported in order for our artistic tastes to become refined. It is very important for us that bridges be built between the different cultures of İstanbul. Our goal is not to create dialogue between a series of artistic pieces, but rather between a series of artists. This exhibition has been shaped and taken on meaning according to the cities it has visited. A quiet dialogue exists between these pieces. This is later transformed into a dialogue between the collections themselves, as well as between curators and, in a more general sense, between the cultures from which these pieces first emerged.”

The “PastPresentFuture” exhibition is divided into sections titled “On Classics,” “Exalted and Picturesque,” “Metropolis,” “Body Language,” “Face to Face,” “Objects of Desire” and “On Geometry.” There are clear shared points between the works in each particular section of the exhibition, and one is also able to see the similarities between artists who have pursuing the same themes over the years.

A journey through art history

Photographs form the major part of the “Metropolis” section of “PastPresentFuture.” Many pieces examine architecture and city planning. Also, lonely individuals in the city are a focus here. There are pieces by Andreas Gursky, as well as by Gabriele Basilico, Fischli and Weiss, Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Wolfgang Tillmans. The exhibition’s “Body Language” and “Face to Face” sections include many depictions of the body and face, with a larger examination of individuals’ relations to their surroundings. Some of the more notable pieces in these sections are Tony Cragg’s installation, Ruoppolo’s still life and Warhol’s famous “Flowers.” The shared theme that binds these pieces is their attention to details from daily life. “On Geometry” has many abstract and figurative compositions.

“PastPresentFuture” provides viewers with a sort of journey through art history and the ages, with visual dialogue formed between not only cultures, but also paintings, photographs, installations and statues. The exhibition places the past along the present, with a larger story emerging as the backdrop. “PastPresentFuture” will remain at the Yapı Kredi Cultural Center until Jan. 7, 2011.

Musa İğrek, İstanbul

Today's Zaman