Şahin Kaygun
November 20, 2014–February 15, 2015

Şahin Kaygun

Istanbul Modern Photography Gallery presented the most comprehensive exhibition of work by Şahin Kaygun. Seeking new forms of expression, Kaygun played a pioneering role in photography in Turkey.

In the 1980s, when the term "interdisciplinary" was nonexistent in Turkey’s photographic culture, Kaygun combined photography with disciplines as diverse as painting, graphics, and cinema, and explored new and surprising applications of photographic techniques. Seeking a contemporary interpretation of the link between photography and other art forms, he continued to push the boundaries between various art disciplines in Turkey.

Supported by detailed archival work, the exhibition spans the whole of Kaygun’s career from his early experimental intervention in photography in the 1980s, when he produced Turkey’s first Polaroid work, through to his final years. Parallel to the artist’s technical exploration, in which he added layers onto photographs, the exhibition traced Kaygun’s narrative on the boundaries of consciousness between dream and reality through themes of life and death. The political atmosphere of the 1980s led to a period of individual crisis and introversion that can be sensed in his art. Kaygun’s work from this period, which was included in the exhibition, manifested the spiritual state of the time from a personal standpoint.

For the artist who said "I don’t take photographs, I make photographs", every frame produced was a scene he designed. Scratching, coloring, and drawing on the photographs, Kaygun erased the details he did not want and added those he did. He superimposed prints, made collages, painted with acrylic paint, and, ultimately, added his own inner world. What is important here is not – as it was debated at the time – whether these works are paintings or photographs. Precisely the contrary, Kaygun’s aim was to establish an interdisciplinary art language.

Curator: Sena Çakırkaya