Gallery walkabout: Taksim to Cihangir

By THE CORNUCOPIA BLOG | March 17, 2014

This week we are in Taksim/Cihangir for our gallery walk, where three of our favourite galleries – each pioneering in its own right – are hosting powerful solo/duo shows.

Burhan Kum, ‘The Justice of Superiority’, 2013, oil on canvas, 200 x 200 cm


The three galleries we visit are all located on Sıraserviler Caddesi, the street that links Taksim to Cihangir. Past the kebap shops, hotels and nightclubs – a not particularly interesting part of the street – the innovative The Empire Project at No 10, housed in a 19th-century building, is hosting the anticipated solo show of the Turkish artist Burhan Kum. In his detailed ink drawings, Kum critically approaches the socio-political dynamics of the geography we live in. Very timely, topical and strong, Kum is not afraid to astound us with his imagery. The comprehensive Retaliation exhibition includes not only his ink drawings, but also oil paintings and a series of self-portraits.

Burhan Kum, ‘Caique de Sultanate’, 2013, ink and permanent pen on canvas, 160 x 200 cm

Asked to pick his favourite pieces, the gallery’s founder, Kerimcan Güleryüz, chose the two above. Prices range from €3,500–€30,000.

Commenting on Istanbul’s contemporary art scene, Güleryüz says: ‘In terms of the quality that is being produced and exhibited, this really has been a banner season for Turkish art. Almost all the institutions – whether private or corporately funded – have gone out of their way to present great shows. But the general landscape in a commercial context has been sluggish at best. As the art market is a direct reflection of economic stability and prosperity, the developments of the next few weeks are crucial for the future of the scene.’

Banu Cennetoğlu/Yasemin Özcan, ‘What Is It That You Are Worried About?’, 2013, video still


Cross the street and after a few minutes’ walk you will reach the excellent Rodeo at No 49, where the gallery’s owner, Sylvia Kouvali, has curated another ingenious show. In their video collaboration, What Is It That You Are Worried About?, the Turkish artists Banu Cennetoğlu and Yasemin Özcan film the process of a holographic energy scan on an atomic shelter built by the Yugoslav army between 1953 and 1979. Conceptually, the artists employ a non-artistic discipline to measure the energy circulating in a physical space. 

Murat Şahinler, Untitled, 2009–2014, 40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas unique

Further down, at No 83, the hip Pilot Gallery, housed in a converted 1970s nightclub, is hosting a solo show of the Istanbul-based artist Murat Şahinler. In I have a feeling, Şahinler explores the different stages of adulthood and ageing and the perception of the body in terms of gender and socio-economics. Curated by the Turkish painter Leyla Gediz and the curator Misal Adnan Yıldız, the exhibition explores the artist’s original painting practice.

The gallery’s founder, Azra Tuzunoğlu, says she particularly likes the above painting. Some of the works are for sale and prices range from €3,000 to €15,000.

‘In the recent years, a lot of new gallery spaces, including Pilot, have opened in Istanbul and this has provided great opportunities for young artists as well as for visitors to explore the Turkish art scene,’ says Tuzunoğlu. ‘The variety of the galleries allows artists to find their voice. All the developments mean new groups of visitors and collectors can partake in the rising art scene in Istanbul.’

When you’re done, relax in the famous Cihangir tea garden just across the road (main image).

Key: Blue – The Empire Project, Red – Rodeo, Yellow – Pilot

Click here for the interactive map.

All images, except the main image, courtesy of the respective galleries. Main image courtesy of Istanbul Places Flickr page (

Posted in Contemporary Art, Exhibitions
Good places to stay
Current Events
Cornucopia Digital Subscription

Cornucopia Online

Cornucopia has joined forces with the digital publishing platform Exact Editions to offer individual and institutional subscribers unlimited access to a searchable archive of fascinating back issues and every newly published issue. This brand new resource is available cross-platform on web, iOS and Android and offers a comprehensive search function, allowing the title’s cultural content to be delved into at the touch of a button.

Digital Subscription: £18.99 / 1 year

Subscribe now

Print subscribers automatically receive FREE access to the digital archive. If you are already a subscriber, please register at with your subscriber account number or contact