Taner Ceylan

Turkey 1967

Photorealism, Painting


Taner Ceylan
Taner Ceylan
May 26, 2016
Art somehow explains a lot that's happening in the world right now. Feel free to contact me at nikola.milosevic777@gmail.com

Nothing is perfect. Everything we do will be liked by some and despised by others. There is no pleasing all. Taner Ceylan is a contemporary Turkish artist whose work is placed somewhere between admiration and praise, on one side, and harsh criticism and loathe, on the other. His reputation is well earned, as he creates photo-realistic paintings filled with elements of homo-eroticism. He’s audacious and free-spirited, his work provocative, and yet Ceylan successfully manages to examine what exactly means to be Turkish today, both as a human and as an artist. Paintings portraying national identity and Orientalism are among those delicate topics that mostly divide his audience, and at the same time, the ones he is best known for and proud of.

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Taner Ceylan – Esma Sultan, 2012 (Left) / Ingres, 2015 (Right)

Rewriting the History

The ever-present sexual explicitness in his works got Ceylan compared with Jeff Koons and Robert Mapplethorpe. His style could be described as emotional realism, making it a bit different from the work of other hyper-realist such as Chuck Close, who is a huge inspiration for Ceylan. There is a situation he’s always trying to emphasize – emotional reality has always been the element he’s trying to bring to the fore, which actually means that he’s much more interested and wants the viewers to see the object itself rather than paint. When they look at the paintings, the blood should be blood, water should be water, not red, blue, or any other used color.

He is also known for the paintings that, simply put, rewrite the history of Turkey. In the piece titled 1881, where the protagonist is a young and fez-wearing pasha, whose eyes reveal, according to Ceylan himself, that he is ready to do just about everything, especially if there’s some money involved. Some went as far as to compare the young man to the father of the modern Turkey, the Ataturk. Marc Quinn was delighted by the perfect mix of the arrogance and menace, and bough the painting at the Sotheby’s auction in London for more than £ 120,000.

Taner Ceylan gave the piece a perfect mixture of insolence and menace

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Taner Ceylan – 1881 (Lost Painting series), 2010 – detail

Istanbul is Home

Ceylan was born in Germany but have moved to Turkey when he was 16 years old. Now he lives between Istanbul and New York, and all those places have an influence on him. When speaking of belonging, he doesn’t like limiting himself to just one place, but, Istanbul is where home, all of his friends and family are. Nevertheless, as an artist, he’s feeling the need to belong anywhere while creating work that’s universal, despite using so much Ottoman details. Ceylan studied at the Mimar Sinan University and worked as a lecturer at the Fine Arts Faculty of Yeditepe University from 2001 until 2003, where he established a great relationship with the students. Even though he’s no longer at the University, Ceylan continues to teach young artists via correspondence. His started exhibiting his work in 1991, and his performance and exhibition The Monte Carlo Style, which took place in 1995, made a significant impact on the Turkish art scene.

The artist refuses to be limited in belonging to just one place

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Taner Ceylan – Together, 2007

The Art of Taner Ceylan Belongs to the Entire World

‘’For me, art is a space where logic lags far behind as intuition and emotions rear up. It’s an individual act, a political statement in and of itself. Understanding a work in an exhibition isn’t done by reading pages upon pages of text or sorting social context.’’ In a modern world, so many artworks are created that simply don’t have any kind of connection to people. That’s why Ceylan creates pieces that are directed towards emotion, people, our souls. He is interested in art that surpasses the limitations of belonging to one country or nationality, making paintings that are universal in their intention of connecting to the people.

Taner Ceylan lives and works in Istanbul.

Featured image: Taner Ceylan – portrait, photo credits Cihan Oncu
All images courtesy of the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2015We now must say goodbyePaul Kasmin Gallery, New York, USASolo
2015The 14th Istanbul Biennial: SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought FormsIstanbul Modern, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2014Look at Me: Portraiture from Manet to the PresentLeila Heller Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2014Young CollectorsElgiz Museum, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2014Images of the SensibleKuad Gallery, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2013The Lost Paintings SeriesPaul Kasmin Gallery, New York, USASolo
2012Istanbul Modern – RotterdamMuseum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, NetherlandsGroup
2011Confessions of Dangerous Minds, Contemporary Art from TurkeyPhillips De Pury & Company Rooms, Saatchi Gallery, London, UKGroup
2011Art BaselGalerist, Basel, SwitzerlandGroup
2011Art Hong KongGalerist, Hong KongGroup
2010New Works, New HorizonsIstanbul Museum of Modern Art, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2010Istanbul Next WaveMartin Gropius Bau, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2009Abstraction of NothingI-20, New York , USASolo
2009NakedPaul Kasmin Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2009Art BaselGalerist, Basel, SwitzerlandGroup
2009Contemporary IstanbulGalerist, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2008Art BaselGalerist, Basel, SwitzerlandGroup
2007The Armory ShowGalerist, New York, USAGroup
2007ARCOGalerist, Madrid, SpainGroup
2006Works on PaperGalerist, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2006Art BaselGalerist, Basel, SwitzerlandGroup
2005De-ComposedGalerist, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
2005LiaisonsStephane Ackermann, Agence D'Art Contemporain LuxembourgGroup
2005Liste BaselGalerist, Basel, SwitzerlandGroup
2005Free Kick, 9th International Istanbul BiennialIstanbul, TurkeyGroup
2004Poetic Justice, 8th Istanbul BiennialIstanbul, TurkeyGroup
2003Families Only - Aileye MahsusKarsi Sanat Calismalari, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2003Istanbul Art FairIstanbul, TurkeyGroup
20021997 - 2002Galerist, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
2002Contemporary IstanbulGalerist, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
1997MoreDerimod Art Gallery, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
1997Dangerous ThingsKarsi Sanat, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
1996Steven MauriceMeannertreu, Nurnberg, GermanySolo
1995The Monte Carlo StyleDevlet Han, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
1995Performance DaysDarphane, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
1995Young Artists ExhibitionIstanbul, TurkeyGroup
1994Young OsmanArmenian Catolic Monastery, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
1993Youth Events - Genc EtkinlikTUYAP, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
1992Private PartyDerimod Art Gallery, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
1991ScandalGalerie Fliederlich, Nurnberg, GermanySolo
1991MannsbildGalerie Hemdendienst, Nurnberg, GermanySolo
1991Recollection Memory2 - Ani Bellek2Akaretler, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
1991Memory, MemoirIstanbul, TurkeyGroup
1991Kassel ExhibitionKassel, GermanyGroup
1990Mixed Eight - Sekizli KarmaMimar Sinan University, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
1990Mixed ContemporaryCemal Resit Rey, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup