Contemporary Istanbul closes amidst reports of strong sales and renewed support from local and international collectors

Contemporary Istanbul closes amidst reports of strong sales and renewed support from local and international collectors

Press Release
16 September 2019 

Contemporary Istanbul closes amidst reports of strong sales and renewed support from local and international collectors

  • 74 galleries from 23 countries, 510 artists and more than 1,400 artworks
  • Reports of strong sales
  • Approximately 74,000 visitors
  • Attendance from international collectors from France, UK, USA and India and institutions including New Museum, Guggenheim Bilbao and Neues Museum Nürnberg
  • Expanded Gallery Support Program, featuring galleries from 5 countries, which reported strong interest
  • Open-air exhibition of over 10 sculptures, titled The Garden of Eden, on the Lufti Kirdar Terrace

Contemporary Istanbul (CI) closed its 14th edition amidst reports of strong mid-range sales, featuring 74 galleries across 23 countries. The fair was held from 12 – 15 September 2019 in the Istanbul Congress Center and the Rumeli Hall at the Istanbul Lutfi Kirdar Convention and Exhibition Center. Situated at the meeting point of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, in one of the great cities of the world, CI is overseen by Artistic Director Anissa Touati. In 2019, CI was supported by its main sponsor, Akbank.

The 14th edition saw strong interest from local and international collectors and institutions such as the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, and attendance from institutions including New Museum, New York; Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao; and Neues Museum Nürnberg, Nürnberg. CI featured 39 new galleries, both from Turkey and internationally. International galleries that participated in the fair for the first time included HIGH ART, Paris; Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna; BARRO, Buenos Aires; LOVAAS Projects, Munich; LC Queisser, Tbilisi; Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Vienna; Galerie Lisa Kandlhofer, Vienna; and Zawyeh Gallery, Ramallah.

Highlights from this year’s programme included solo booths by local and international artists, including a presentation by Indian artist Sudarshan Shetty at Galerie Krinzinger; the launch of the sculpture park ‘The Garden of Eden’ featuring over 10 works by 8 international and Turkish artists including large-scale works in the open air by Mikayel Okanjanyan, Guido Casaretto and Osman Dinç; the third edition of the Gallery Support Program which featured galleries from 5 countries including France, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, and USA; the seventh edition of Plugin, curated by Esra Özkan; and CI and Art-O-Rama presented a new collaboration, Mediterranean as a Mindset, a series of talks organized by Salma Tuqan, Deputy Director of the Delfina Foundation, as part of CIF Dialogues. CI also presented the Recent Acquisitions exhibition, based on the theme things, words, signs: this and the other, which showcased newly acquired artworks selected from 41 private collections including Suzan Sabancı Dinçer, Erol Tabanca and Selman Bilal, curated by CI Executive Committee member Hasan Bülent Kahraman.

Outside the fair, there were several coinciding art events including the 16th edition of the Istanbul Biennial, which will close on 10 November 2019, and the opening of new museums and cultural institutions in Istanbul including ARTER, Odunpazarı Modern Museum and the Istanbul Museum of Painting & Sculpture. There were also exhibitions by Turkish artists including Espulsa by Şükran Moral, one of the seminal performance artists in Turkey, at FA Art Space.

Participating galleries offered to comment on their experience of Contemporary Istanbul 2019:


Anna Laudel Contemporary, Istanbul

The first day was excellent. There were great collectors with an interest in young artists and we sold 20% of the booth on the first day. There are no artists in our booth whose works have not sold. We sold to both private collectors and museums,’ said Alev Vayısoğlu, Gallery Manager.

Gowen Contemporary, Switzerland

We are very happy to have participated in Contemporary Istanbul, we feel that there is a real energy this year from both Turkish and international collectors. Our solo booth by Waseem Ahmed really resonated with visitors here, referencing a cross of cultures much like Istanbul, and we sold well. We are also delighted that Ahmed has been able to start producing a new body of work in ceramic, a new material for him,’ said Laura Gowen, Founder and Director.

JD Malat Gallery, London

Its our first time in Istanbul and we already have a lot of collectors here. It was great to be here. Our Turkish artist Zümrütoğlu sold out and we will be back again next year,’ said Jean-David Malat, Founder.

Marina Gisich Gallery, St. Petersburg

We participate internationally and its always great to be in Istanbul. Its always very positive and we make connections at the fair with collectors who continue to stay in touch with the gallery beyond Istanbul,’ said Marina Gisich, Owner.

Mark Hachem Gallery, New York, Paris, Lebanon

This is our tenth year participating in Contemporary Istanbul, and we were very happy with the number of collectors here this year. We had a very good first day, sold well and met some new collectors, both Turkish and international,’ said Mark Hachem, Founder.

Pi Artworks, Istanbul

I always like being hereI have not missed an edition. This year, everyone says that the fair is more spacious and the booths are better curated. We have sold well and met a lot of new clients, said Jade Y. Turanli, Founder and Director.

The Pill, Istanbul

There has been a lot of energy and a great crowd this year. We hold a strong position in the local art scene so it was great to be here and to engage with both local and international audiences. Overall it has been very positive,’ said Suela J. Cennet, Founding Director.

THK Gallery, Cape Town

I was delighted to have been invited to participate in CI and discover Istanbul, which is a new city for us. I was very impressed with the level of collectors and we met lots of museums who were all very open’ said Frank Schönau, Founder.


Notes to Editors

About Anissa Touati

Anissa Touati is the Artistic Director of Contemporary Istanbul. She is Chalet Society’s Associate Director based between Mexico and France and is known to have contributed to the development of the current Mexican art scene in Mexico and abroad. She has curated and co-curated exhibitions at several international locations including, among others: the Mexican part of Cycles of Collapsing Progress at Rashid Karami International Fair in collaboration with BeMA Museum and Studiocur/art (Tripoli, Lebanon), ¿Cómo te voy a olvidar? at Galerie Perrotin (Paris, France), Le Sud Bébé at Musée J1 (Marseille, France), Coordenadas, a solo show of Jesper Just at Anahuacalli Museum (Mexico City, Mexico), Made By 4 Hands at OMR Gallery (Mexico City, Mexico), Romance atómico, a solo show of Matias Duville at BARRO (Buenos Aires, Argentina), and a tall action is not a height at The Chimney (New York, USA).


About Contemporary Istanbul Foundation

The Contemporary Istanbul Foundation for Art, Culture and Education was founded in 2018 to support the development to the art environment and relations in Istanbul. With a strong educational remit, the Foundation holds art events, workshops and artist residencies.




About Akbank

Akbank is one of the leading banks in Turkey and has been supporting Contemporary Istanbul for 14 years since its inception. Akbank embraces the social development through culture and the arts as a prime responsibility alongside supporting economic growth. Having supported the arts and artists since its foundation, Akbank has contributed significantly to Turkey’s social and economic development thanks to its long-term corporate social responsibility projects. Akbank remains committed to Contemporary Istanbul in its 14th year.


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