Selma Gürbüz exhibition at Istanbul Modern: "This Place We Call World"

With “Selma Gürbüz: This Place We Call World”, Istanbul Modern continues its effort to increase the visibility of women artists in Turkey. Opening on November 5, 2020, the exhibition addresses the artist’s 35-year art practice through a number of themes.

Istanbul Modern presents Selma Gürbüz’s elaborately crafted works woven with myths, legends and fairy tales that transcend time and space in the first comprehensive exhibition of the artist's work to be hosted by a museum in Turkey. “Selma Gürbüz: This Place We Call World” showcases the artist’s 35-year art practice and her unique repertoire of images.

The exhibition centers on works never before exhibited, including the artist’s digital art, and features more than 100 works ranging from paintings and installations to drawings, videos, and sculptures.

Cross-cultural synthesis

“This Place We Call Earth” can be described as a comprehensive exhibition of works in pursuit of cross-cultural synthesis, that seek to manifest the past in the present and to reflect on civilizations. The exhibition is a distillation of Selma Gürbüz's extensive artistic production, which she refined over many years. Although Gürbüz’s works seem detached from the reality of our world, they depict life, the passage of time, and the state of people in this cycle.

While narrating different stories in her works, the artist shares the dreams, fears, inner journeys, and themes of life and death that are present in our collective memory; this way, she urges us to face these thoughts and overcome them. In addition to building a connection with Iranian, Indian and Turkish miniature as well as art of the Far East, Gürbüz uses elements from Western painting, with which she is also familiar. In the world she invites viewers to enter, human and animal figures are depicted in an inseparable union. The works Selma Gürbüz painted after her trip to Africa visualize the intersecting lives of humans and animals in the generous, warm and sometimes menacing nature of this continent.

Oya Eczacıbaşı: Expanding the museum collection through the support of the Women Artists Fund

Oya Eczacıbaşı, Chair of the Board of Istanbul Modern, noted that Istanbul Modern is continuing its effort to increase the visibility of women artists in Turkey with this exhibition and said, “In ‘This Place We Call World’ we are showcasing over 100 works by Selma Gürbüz, whose works are found in numerous private collections and museums, including Istanbul Modern and the British Museum. I am delighted to announce that Istanbul Modern is acquiring one of the artist's new works on view in this exhibition: ‘Take Care of Each Other’. The acquisition is being facilitated by the Women Artists Fund, an initiative to support the production of women artists and strengthen their representation in the art world. I hope that this exhibition highlighting the artist's rich inner world will improve the morale of viewers during these difficult days.”

Istanbul Modern Senior Curator Öykü Özsoy, and the artist Selma Gürbüz met with members of the press before the exhibition opening to talk about the exhibition and Gürbüz's artistic practice. The meeting took place with a limited number of participants and in a socially distanced manner in line with the precautionary measures introduced as part of the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak and to provide visitors with a safe museum experience.

Selma Gürbüz: For me, each exhibition is a reckoning

“This Place We Call World” is my first solo show following a three-year hiatus. It is a very special exhibition for me because it brings together my recent works for the first time and convenes examples from different periods of my artistic career. It is also quite meaningful for me that the show is hosted by Istanbul Modern. Although not exactly a retrospective, this exhibition can be considered as close to a retrospective as it gets, given the large number of works and the fact that they're from different periods. For me, each exhibition is a reckoning; I get very excited. Sharing my works with the audience, unfolding my world before them gives me indescribable feelings... Each exhibition is also a new idea, a new feeling within me. That's why I feel lucky, because my mind is always full. An infinite abundance... That's how I know that no exhibition is the end. Each time, I have this need to say something new through a new exploration and a new breath.

Öykü Özsoy: A visual encyclopedia

“This Place We Call Earth” is more than an exhibition. It is a visual encyclopedia formed by the distillation of Selma Gürbüz’s artistic production, refined over the years. Presenting us the itinerant spirit of an artist who has traveled across different geographies, times, and cultures, the exhibition invites us to rethink her carefully selected topics related to humans, nature, and life. The works of Selma Gürbüz generously show us what we cannot see or prefer not to see. Although they seem detached from the reality of our world, they depict life, the passage of time, and the state of people in this cycle. And we, the viewers, get lost in an uncanny yet pleasant world among the depictions of this visual encyclopedia and its delicious and surprising stories.

Exhibition catalogue

The exhibition catalogue prepared in Turkish and English includes an article delineating the conceptual framework of the exhibition, written by Öykü Özsoy, images of all the works featured in the exhibition, and an interview with Selma Gürbüz conducted by Fisun Yalçınkaya. The exhibition catalogue and a selection of products specially created for the exhibition are available for art lovers at the Istanbul Modern Shop.

Workshops designed for children

In parallel with the exhibition, the Istanbul Modern Education and Social Projects department is organizing online educational programs, including exhibition tours designed for different age groups.

Who is Selma Gürbüz?

Born in 1960 in Istanbul, Selma Gürbüz began her art education in 1980 at the Exeter College of Art Design in the United Kingdom. She graduated from the Department of Painting of Marmara University's Faculty of Fine Arts in 1984. Gürbüz has participated in numerous exhibitions in Paris, Rome, Buenos Aires, Barcelona and various cities in Japan, and her works are included in several museum collections, including The British Museum in London, Galerie Maeght Collection in Paris, Istanbul Modern, and Ankara Art and Sculpture Museum.