Weekend gallery guide: At the Modern

Istanbul this weekend (July 22–23)

By Katie Nadworny | July 21, 2017


With the Istanbul Modern’s summer exhibitions closing soon, don’t miss the chance to see the excellent artists on display.

Fahrelnissa Zeid: A Selection from the Istanbul Modern Collection at Istanbul Modern, Tophane

Fahrelnissa Zeid's dramatic abstracts have always been a cornerstone of the Istanbul Modern's collection. Now, as a companion to the full career retrospective on view at the Tate Modern in London, a collection of Zeid's work from the '40's through the '60's is being displayed until the end of the month.

It’s easy to get swept up in her kaleidoscopic abstracts, with large bright canvases of geometric swirls and colorful bursts full of joy and motion. Just as interesting are her paintings that use a darker palette, an unexpected counterpoint to her brighter compositions. The exhibition features archival footage of the artist speaking in Paris alongside her daughter, and it serves to make this titan of Turkish modern art more accessible. I have loved her art ever since I first visited the Istanbul Modern on my first visit to Turkey, so this opportunity to see more of her work all at once is a particular thrill.

Roger Ballen: Retrospective at Istanbul Modern, Tophane

Extended far past its initial June end date, the retrospective of American-born South African artist Roger Ballen displays a bizarre, whimsical, and disturbing world. Bringing elements of surreal collage into his monochromatic photographs, Ballen’s compositions play with perspective and perception. His photographs call to mind the visceral surrealism of Jan Svankmajer and Diane Arbus' fascination with faces. One series that delves into the communities of rural South Africa roots his vision in realism, but it's not hard to make the jump from the doubled faces of his portrait of South African twins to his image of a manic-faced child thrusting a toy dinosaur into the air, surrounded by crazy wall doodles. The line between the mundane and the strange is so often thin.

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