May 31, 2017

Fahrelnissa Zeid @ Istanbul Modern

Fahrelnissa Zeid
Istanbul Modern

May 30 - July 30, 2017

Istanbul Modern presents a selection from its comprehensive collection of works by Fahrelnissa Zeid, a pioneer of modern art in Turkey and one of the first exponents of abstract art.

 Eleven years after “Two Generations of the Rainbow”, Istanbul Modern’s retrospective of  Fahrelnissa Zeid together with her son Nejad Melih Devrim, Istanbul Modern revisits  its collection of Fahrelnissa Zeid for a special selection in its Pop-Up Exhibition Area.

The exhibition features 23 artworks, not only abstract geometric compositions in which the artist excelled, but also expressionist paintings that merge her unique color palette with references to Byzantine, Islamic, and Western art.

The selection focuses on Fahrelnissa Zeid’s most prolific years between the 1940s, that marks her introduction to the art scene in Turkey, and the 1970s, when she moved to Amman, Jordan.

The global art world’s revived interest in Fahrelnissa Zeid has led to a flurry of her works in 2017, including group shows in Haus der Kunst in Munich and GAM di Torino. This year, 8 works from the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Collection that are among the most important in Zeid’s career will be on view in London, Berlin, and Beirut, starting with her retrospective at Tate Modern as of June the 13th.

Oya Eczacıbaşı: Our first donation, which made a dream come true
Oya Eczacıbaşı, Chair of the Board of Istanbul Modern, explained the special significance of Fahrelnissa Zeid to Istanbul Modern as well as in Turkey’s modern art: “When Istanbul Modern was still just an idea, the family of Turkey’s world-renowned artist Fahrelnissa Zeid made a gift of her masterpiece ‘My Hell’ to the museum we dreamed of opening one day. The moment Istanbul Modern was founded, the first work to enter the museum was this one. With Zeid’s increased visibility in the global art world, we wanted to bring the artist’s works together again after 11 years and introduce them to new generations.”

Levent Çalıkoğlu: “Zeid’s position in the global art world is secured”
Noting that 2017 is the year of Zeid in the global art world, Istanbul Modern Director Levent Çalıkoğlu added: “Without a doubt Fahrelnissa Zeid’s life story, character and approach to art make her one of the most creative artists of her generation and epoch. The belated interest of Western museums and art community in Zeid’s person and works, which is clearly evident in this year’s international exhibition calendar, is restoring her the value she deserves. In particular, the retrospective that Tate Modern is organizing will secure Zeid’s position in the global art world. Since we have a comprehensive collection of Zeid’s work, we are also supporting this global interest with this selection.”


Fahrelnissa Zeid was born on Büyükada in 1901 during the Ottoman era as the niece of Grand Vizier Cevat Paşa. She came from a large family of artists that included author Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı and painter Aliye Berger, her siblings. Her children from her marriage with author İzzet Melih Devrim were the painter Nejad Melih Devrim and the director and theater actress Şirin Devrim. Zeid was also the aunt of ceramic artist Füreya Koral.

One of the first female graduates of the Sanayi-i Nefise (Academy of Fine Arts), Fahrelnissa Zeid continued her studies in painting in the studio of Stalbach at the Académie Ranson in Paris, and later in the studio of Namık İsmail in Istanbul. In 1934, she married Prince Zeid, the ambassador of Iraq in Ankara, and became a princess. In 1942, she joined the Group D and took part in their exhibitions.

After her first solo exhibition held in her home in Maçka in 1944, Fahrelnissa Zeid had her works exhibited in Paris, London, New York, Brussels, and other cities where the couple lived after World War II. In 1976, Fahrelnissa Zeid moved permanently to Amman, where she established an institute of arts bearing her name and which she supported throughout her remaining years while continuing to produce art. She died in 1991 in Amman.

Known for her exuberant, powerful compositions, Fahrelnissa Zeid has a unique visual language so vivid and rich that it cannot be reduced to a single style. Her artistic practice can be classified under the following periods: an early period of figurative compositions with spaces constructed according to the style of miniatures; a period of maturity with geometrical and freely abstractionist works reminiscent of stained glass surfaces; and a late period consisting mainly of portraits in which psychological narrative comes to the fore.


May 9, 2017

Jennifer Wen Ma @ Sandra Gering Inc, New York

Jennifer Wen Ma: Eight Views of Paradise Interrupted
Sandra Gering Inc, New York
May 11 - July 28, 2017 

Fusing aspects of traditional Chinese art with a distinctly contemporary approach, Jennifer Wen Ma creates delicate, ephemeral installations out of paper, ink, glass and light. For this exhibition, the artist presents an environment of new works borrowing from the traditional Chinese literati landscape painting trope of Eight Views of Xiaoxiang. This contemporary homage meditates on the mental landscape that yielded the artist’s concept for the acclaimed installation opera Paradise Interrupted, exploring the utopian idea of ‘paradise’. Originally presented at the Lincoln Center Festival last summer, the opera was the artist’s directorial debut, and combined Jennifer Wen Ma’s innovative set designs with her co-written libretto and a contemporary composition in the traditional kunqu vocal singing style with western operatic voice. 

Eight Views features some of Jennifer Wen Ma’s best-known iconography: her unconventional use of ink and her multifaceted use of the garden as metaphor. Her incorporation of time as material is also significant, whether expressed through performance, narrative, or the movement of light, air and liquid. Upon entering the low-lit exhibition, the viewer is enveloped by the show’s two signature works. One is a multi-layered 43-foot long scroll-like landscape painting on translucent acrylic, which is set off from the wall to create shadows from light projections across its surface. Composed of many individual panels that surround three walls, it is designed to flow together to offer a panoramic view. The nuanced painting, as subtle and mystical as its predecessors, speaks of the artist’s contribution to both Eastern and Western artistic discourse. In the center of the room, a striking large-scale floor sculpture of a black paper garden folds out accordion-style from nothingness to a fully realized garden, tight and controlled in places and wild and unruly in others. Based the opera set design, the garden also references the live gardens and plants worldwide that the artist has painted with Chinese ink. 

Jennifer Wen Ma is also known for her extensive multimedia endeavors, from the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony to the permanent interactive artwork on the “Water Cube” in Beijing that reflects the resident’s daily emotions through abstract light, color and movement. Earlier pieces also on view include Brain Storm, 2009, the first of several videos using ink on glass as a medium, and the mirror-surfaced Dodo with 100 Meeps Walking in the Desert in Five Movements, 2011.

Eight Views of Paradise Interrupted brings these elements together in a formally beautiful, conceptually complex and historically rich installation. 

Concurrently, the artist will be exhibiting a related project at Van Doren Waxter, 23 East 73rd Street, NY.

Jennifer Wen Ma has exhibited widely since 1993. In addition to Lincoln Center, solo projects, installations and exhibitions include the Cass Sculpture Foundation, Sussex, England, The Guggenheim Museum, NY, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, the Qatar Museums, Doha, Qatar, the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, Taiwan, Performa 13, NY, the National Art Museum of China, Beijing, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., the Market Square Public Art Program, Pittsburgh, PA, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC and the Echigo-Tsumari Triennial, Niigata, Japan, the Singapore Biennial and the Sydney Biennale, among others. Jennifer Wen Ma’s work on the opening & closing ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics earned the artist an Emmy in 2008. Jennifer Wen Ma lives in New York & Beijing.

14 East 63rd Street, New York, NY 10065