Beyond The Apparent
A Selection from the Art Collection of The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey
Founded on the 3rd October 1931, the collection of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey comprises of modern/contemporary works of art, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and installations created with different techniques and means of expression by artists of different generations, born between 1882 and 1960, producing their respective works from 1908 to the present day. As the collection brings into view key currents and discussions in Turkey, it also offers an insight into the changing art concepts during this process.
Although there is no definite record that determines the formation of a definitive collection, 1931 can be proposed as the year of creation of the collection. It can be assumed that the collection began to take its form when the Atatürk photographs S. Süreyya Bükey and Jean Axel Weinberg took that same year at the bank’s inauguration were purchased, for display in various areas of the bank. The impetus behind the collection was the encouragement and support given to state institutions and organizations to purchase art works from exhibitions held at the People’s Houses (Halkevleri), The Association of Fine Arts, and the State Museum of Painting and Sculpture, which gained momentum with the establishment of the Turkish Republic.
In 1990, the cataloging and display of the collection coincides with the decision of the Central Bank of the Turkish Republic introduce its own collection, with works being hung in different areas of the bank. All the works preserved in the headquarters and branches throughout the country were identified, photographed and inventoried along with the biographies of the artists as a result of Zeynep Yasa-Yaman’s extensive survey.
With the view of adding the artistic production from the 1950s to the 1990s to its collection, within certain guidelines, the Central Bank continued to make new acquisitions and organize exhibitions between 1991 and 1994 with the help of its Art Board that included Bediz Demiray, Hasan Ersel and Ali Artun. The foreword of the catalogue pointed to the importance of the transformations that determined the history of modernism in the later half of the 20th century, as well as an exploration of modern Turkish art. Identified as merely a beginning, one –and perhaps the most important– expectation of the 1950-2000 collection was to recognize the need felt for the archaeology of other modernity and identities in a modern world defined by Eurocentric movements, in a period when the relationship between the center and periphery within art was being redefined. Through its collection, the bank emphasized the significance of a new art historiography and demanded to be immortalized. The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey shared its collection with the public for the first time in the exhibition “1950-2000” that opened at the Atatürk Cultural Center, in Ankara, from the 12th January - 12th February, 1994. The exhibition and the accompanying catalogue comprised of 111 works by 41 artists, encompassing nearly half a century, extending from the end of World War II to the 1990s.
In relation with art historiography and the nature and source of existing information, “Beyond the Apparent” exhibition composed of selected works from the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey Art Collection. The exhibition can be perceived an archaeological endeavor, a revisiting, or an attempt to experiment the conformity between the apparent and what lies beyond it. The objective of this title is to rethink, over the exhibition of a collection, the fundamental views that determine discussions on modern/contemporary art and art historiography in Turkey, as well as the desire to elucidate the processes rather than glorifying or criticizing certain periods. ??The word Suret, carries different meanings such as “appearance, figure, image, representation, duplicate, copy, photograph” or “mode,” corresponding to the apparent and perceived aspect of existence in Islamic philosophy. Siret, on the other hand, defines the invisible, abstract, spiritual state of a person that can be discerned by the five sense, his/her behavior, nature, ethics, and the character that lie beyond the appearance. In this regard, it can be surmised that the desire to revisit a collection as part of an exhibition is connected to the “modern and beyond” appearance of the “1950-2000” exhibition, in 1994.
Beyond the Apparent