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Füsun Onur. From the photo archive of Ege Art/Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts.
Füsun Onur. From the photo archive of Ege Art/Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts.

Füsun Onur to Represent Turkey at 2021 Venice Biennale

Istanbul-based contemporary artist Füsun Onur, an influential Turkish modernist whose career spans more than fifty years, has been chosen to represent Turkey at the Fifty-Ninth Venice Biennale, to be held between May and November 2021. Sponsored by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), the pavilion will be curated by Bige Örer, the director of the Istanbul Biennial and contemporary art projects at İKSV.

Throughout her prolific career, Onur has produced works from everyday materials that explore the relationship between space, time, rhythm, and form. A graduate of Üsküdar American Academy for Girls, Onur studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul and then went to the United States in 1962 on a Fulbright scholarship, earning a master’s degree in sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1967.

“Curiosity has always been part of Onur’s method,” wrote Mine Haydaroğlu in the January 2013 issue of Artforum. “She likes to work with the auras of spaces and the essence of objects and to figure out how these might relate to communications between people as well as individual sensibilities.”

Onur has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions at various institutions, including the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany (2001); the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2005); the Augarten Contemporary, Vienna (2010); Istanbul Modern (2011); Maçka Art Gallery, Istanbul (2012); and ARTER, Istanbul (2014). She also participated in the 1987, 1995, 2011, and 2015 editions of the Istanbul Biennial, the 2007 Moscow Biennale, and the 2012 iteration of Documenta.

“Füsun Onur is one of the rare artists to form a poetic relationship between life and art beyond just artworks, but as a way of being,” said the Turkish pavilion advisory board, comprising Serhan Ada from Bilgi University; general manager of Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Culture and Arts Enterprises Özalp Birol; artist İnci Eviner; director and curator of the Fiorucci Art Trust Milovan Farronato; and editor of Sanat Dünyamız and art writer Fisun Yalçınkaya.

“She explores the fundamental orientations of conceptual art through her own poetry. The installations of Füsun Onur stand out with their ability to erase the universally defined boundaries such as identity, culture and language, and to linger as a musical note in living beings, regardless of place and space.”