L. İpek Ulusoy Akgül

  • picks October 02, 2017

    “Pictures of Nothing”

    In her 1950s manifesto, Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair made a distinction between the visible and the visual, suggesting that the latter was more complex than mere “pictures.” Conceptually informed by Choucair’s vision, perhaps more than by the 2006 book by Kirk Varnedoe that lends its name to the show, this contemporary abstraction exhibition focuses on conceptual thought rather than abstract formalism. Arie Amaya-Akkermans’s distinctive curatorial framing also extends beyond the Western canon, making refreshing connections between different peripheries as well as media and moments of

  • picks April 18, 2016

    ‘‘But Still Tomorrow Builds into My Face’’

    In today’s volatile context, we witness the disappearance of heritage through hegemonic and even violent processes of decay, shifting contemporary artistic and curatorial practices toward the tension between destruction and preservation. Sensitively curated by Nat Muller, this exhibition builds a dialogue between cultural, environmental, material, and performative concerns, distinguishing itself from other timely curatorial attempts to interrogate the nineteenth-century concept of conservation.

    Combing humor and criticality, Taus Makhacheva’s heavy hitter Tightrope (all works cited, 2015) presents

  • picks October 02, 2015

    Can Altay

    “Split Horizon (Domestic Disobedience),” Can Altay’s first solo exhibition in Istanbul, investigates inhabitation in relation to changing urban and nonurban contexts, modernist obsessions with progress, and the media’s power to manipulate truth. A wooden installation compartmentalizing the entrance corridor, Threshold Enhancers, or Sketch for a Procession of Thresholds (all works 2015) slows viewers down, providing room for self-reflection via mirrors and invoking conscious engagement with imagery confronted on a daily basis, via photographs printed repeatedly on tarpaulin.

    In the main gallery,

  • picks April 28, 2015

    “Accented”

    Can we rethink the notion of accent beyond language and speech? In addressing this question, “Accented,” curated by Murtaza Vali, challenges globalization’s homogenizing effects on culture while exploring the realms of image, space, smell, and sound. Lantian Xie’s freestanding green wall dividing the gallery, Woodland Fern No. 4, 2015, is a replica of a structure in the artist’s neighborhood cafeteria and represents Dubai’s vernacular multiculturalism that is currently being confronted by a cosmopolitan one. Similarly, Raja’a Khalid’s Oud Aura, 2015, made up of a diffuser that spreads an oud

  • picks January 28, 2015

    Benjamin Senior

    A quest for perfection is at the heart of Benjamin Senior’s “Enclosure” exhibition, featuring meticulous depictions of healthy-looking people exercising, walking in nature, or performing other wholesome activities. Formally trained in figurative painting, Senior utilizes materials and methods from the Italian Renaissance in a fresh way, while European modern artists from the 1930s, such as Fernand Léger and Oskar Schlemmer, inform his rendering of the human body. The artist’s experimentation in egg tempera on linen lead to larger versions in oil paint, as in the case of Two Walkers on Beacon

  • picks December 12, 2014

    Sahand Hesamiyan

    Sahand Hesamiyan’s massive steel sculpture Khalvat, 2014, magnetically draws and physically engages the viewer, in what at first sight appears to be a displaced extraterrestrial object. Displayed at the heart of the Tehran-based artist’s first solo exhibition in the UAE, this multifaceted work is the result of Hesamiyan’s ongoing interest in architectural forms. With its circular shell and thin ribs, Khalvat carries a sense of simultaneous lightness and complexity as the artist adapts and interprets the Rasmi dome common in secular and religious buildings alike in Iran, to trace notions of

  • picks November 08, 2014

    “Anyone Could Be a Sculptor One Day”

    Amid the Elhamra Han’s textile shops and tea houses is an unexpected haven for contemporary art: First- and second-floor rooms have become an exhibition space whose windows look inward into the building’s courtyard emporium or outward onto İstiklal Avenue, as if a call for art to engage with the city. Each room houses one of the seven commissioned, predominantly installation-based works (all works 2014) by a range of artists, curators, and editors. Exploring complex narratives between production, power, and the writing of history, this interdisciplinary and dynamic exhibition builds dialogue

  • picks February 06, 2014

    Nargess Hashemi

    On first glance, the pen-on-graph-paper drawings in Nargess Hashemi’s current solo exhibition, “The Pleasure in Boredom,” appear to have been digitally designed. Yet close observation reveals many intense and intimate details in the Tehran-based artist’s works, as she moves from the figurative to the abstract. This show calls upon viewers to study this shift in Hashemi’s pieces—as she begins to consider, in more abstract ways, the essence of home in pieces that mark a departure from her previous domestic scenes in series such as “Stories From the Boudoir,” 2008, and “Wrap Me Up In You,” 2009–11.