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There’s more reasons than fluffy kittens to head to Istanbul to get your art fix, but Lara Ogel's digital cat collages, entitled, “A cat lady without cats” are just too humorous to pass upCourtesy of

Reasons why Istanbul is your new go-to art hub

With a DIY edge and a dose of political engagement, meet the new creatives cementing the city’s art credentials

If you had to pick a city that artists, curators and gallerists were all heading to this year, it would be Istanbul. It has a DIY edge and an undercurrent of political engagement that feels like Berlin before it got taken over by start-up dudes – yet there's also a good dose of sophistication and glamour. These are some of the artists and projects that are making the city so exciting.


This fair brings together some of the best local galleries (The Empire Projects, Galeri Nev) alongside people like the Whitechapel gallery from London. It also has a great ‘series’ with local artists like Hale Tenger and Mustafa Horasan.


Curators Simon Sakhai and Aya Mousawi have created their most ambitious version of the nomadic Moving Museum in Istanbul this year. An incredible list of 46 artists all had residencies over the past three months including Peles Empire, Hannah Perry, Anne de Vries, Jon Rafman and N Dash. Their huge 80,000 square foot showspace for the work is the definition of ambitious.


Lara Ögel is one of those great emerging artists with an engaged international language that deserves to blow up. From collage works using old book pages and postcards, to installations made of cupboard doors, she has a brilliant take on the found and forgotten.


Ali Emir Tapan is best known for his photographic and sculptural works but at Contemporary Istanbul, the artist (who completed his MA at St Martins, London) is taking part of a great strand of shows entitled CI 90. Artists are given 90 minutes to create an exhibition with a shipping container space, before taking it all down again.


Another great female artist coming out of Turkey, Nilbar Güres is represtented by one of Istanbul’s most respected galleries Rampa. Her paintings fuse Eastern and Western art traditions with ease but she has also made successful video works and street performance interventions often infused with feminism.


With paintings that resemble figurative abstracts, Hayal Pozanti is one of Turkey’s hottest exports. She paints bold sculptural shapes often against white backgrounds in strong colours. The resulting acrylics feel refreshingly crisp and led by skill rather than process.


Erdem Taşdelen, who shows with the great emerging gallery Galerie Non, has recently created a project devoted to the left hand. This has included a lunch where everyone used only their left hand to eat and a beautiful book of quotes about left handedness – as well as videos, drawings and found objects. Long live the left!


This art publication has only just released its first edition but damn, it's good. An oversized selection of interviews, text and images are loosely bound together and demand to be pinned on walls. They are also working on a video interview strand as well as future issues. A perfect medium to capture the energy of Istanbul.


This Turkish artist calls Istanbul, Amsterdam, Berlin and Helsinki his home. Politics, cars, roads, short films, animations, graphic drawing – it really is impossible to limit Ahmet Öğüt’s approach into an easy sentence. That breadth is why he's received coverage from Artforum as well as solo shows at the Delfina Foundation, Van Abbemuseum and Kunsthalle Basel.



This emerging gallery, which is showing at CI, is a great little space in an apartment in Galata (Istanbul’s Soho). The super newbie, which has been open a few months, has its focus on getting young Turkish artists a wider international audience. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.