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Taner Ceylan - navigating history, power and narrative in New York

— September 2013

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Taner Ceylan, Esma Sultan, oil on canvas, 180 cm x 160 cm, 2012.

Taner Ceylan, Lost Paintings Series
5 September – 5 October 2013
Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York

Paul Kasmin Gallery presents Taner Ceylan’s Lost Paintings Series, on view from 5 September–5 October 2013 at 515 West 27th Street, New York. This will be Ceylan’s first exhibition at Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York and the US debut of the complete Lost Paintings Series. Well-known for his provocative, emotional realism paintings, Ceylan began the series as a contemporary exploration of the Orientalist gaze in all its facets. Upsetting both Western and Eastern master narratives, the Lost Paintings Series presents Eastern figures in a fascinating navigation of history, power and narrative. Esma Sultan, Ceylan’s depiction of an 18th-century Ottoman Princess, renowned for her cruel disposition, draws on the empowering mythology of passionate, ruthless and assertive womanhood that characterizes accounts of her life.

Rummaging through the past to make a startling comment very much about the present, the Lost Paintings Series assemble a cast of lost characters and voices that embody the many silenced by both Orientalist and official nationalist histories. An Ottoman man gazes defiantly, cigarette in hand; a pair of male lovers betray a chaste  farewell; a veiled woman stands before Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde. In the words of curator Dan Cameron:

[Taner Ceylan makes] paintings that bespeak absolute technical mastery and precision, but which are also freighted with an emotional and sexual dimension usually absent from the genre – qualities that have set him apart from the prevailing tendencies in contemporary Turkish art, and which at times have also brought him outright abuse in the press.

 Ceylan began exhibiting work in 1991, in both a group exhibition, and his first solo exhibition, in Nurnberg, Germany. His performance and exhibition, Monte Carlo Style (1995), made a significant impact on the Turkish art scene. He has lectured as a member of the Fine Arts Faculty, Yeditepe University (2001–3), and served as Editor-in-Chief, Arts for Time Out Istanbul magazine (2001–6). Ceylan has participated in both the 8th and 9th International Istanbul Biennials (2003and 2005); Postcards From CAC at Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans (2009); Naked, Paul Kasmin Gallery (2009); Istanbul Next Wave, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin (2010); and Istanbul Modern at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2011). His work is included in private and museum collections including Sveaas Art Collection and the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art.

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