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Our Blissful Souvenirs

January 8, 2020 – February 16, 2020

Çankaya Municipality Contemporary Arts Center, Çankaya, 06540, Kavaklıdere Mahallesi, John F. Kennedy Caddesi No: 4, 06680 Ankara

The most comprehensive exhibition to date of Nur Koçak, one of Turkey’s first photorealist painters, is presented at SALT Ankara (originally held in SALT Beyoğlu). Titled after one of her works, Our Blissful Souvenirs comprises a selection of early drawings and photographic series, produced between the 1960s and 2010s. The exhibition offers an in-depth view into Koçak’s critically narrative practice, which examines the spread of popular culture from women’s magazines and Hollywood movies through to its repercussions in Turkey.

Opposing the strict rules set forth by her academic training, Koçak insisted on making photorealist paintings early on in her career. Her determination in this preferred technique and medium, as well as the feminist viewpoint that continues to inform her practice today, helped transform the local art historical narratives that often overlooked or entirely disregarded female identity. Born in 1941, Koçak made her foray into art early on; in primary school she studied under the tutelage of artist Turgut Zaim at TED Ankara College Foundation School. In high school, she studied with abstract exhibitionist painter Leon Berkowitz in Washington, DC, where she was chosen “the best student in painting.” During her education at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul, which she started in 1960, Koçak first joined Adnan Çoker’s gallery, and later the studios of Cemal Tollu and Neşet Günal.

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