Nick Hackworth

Turkish Delight: Why Istanbul is on the Contemporary Art Map

Essays & Reviews Spectator

Istanbul, straddling Europe and Asia, is touted as a new hub of the international art world.

For anyone in the art world, one of the places to be this month is Istanbul, which is fast becoming a major art centre. The second Art International festival (26–28 September) will attract 80 galleries from 24 countries as far-flung as Finland and Saudi Arabia and will include international heavyweights such as Lisson Gallery and Lehmann Maupin as well as local galleries.

This is a city in which you can cross the Bosphorus between Europe and Asia, in a country which borders some of the most troubled places on earth, and as you’d expect, many of the works offer a powerful commentary on the situation in the Middle East. Dyala Nusseibeh, the festival director, says: ‘It’s uplifting that a number of galleries are showing artists from the region.’ There are works by Wael Shawky, Steve Sabella, Ghada Amer, Walid Siti, Susan Hefuna, Ahmad Morshedloo and Ahmed Mater, to name a few. ‘It’s a reminder of the cultural depth of the Middle East despite the challenges for the region,’ Nusseibeh continues.