ISTANBUL - If you picture Beyoğlu as a Bohemian quarter, then you know Apel Galeri fits right in. Ten years ago, Apel was one of the first of the art galleries to be opened in the area and others have followed its lead.
No one can deny that Apel is Nuran Terzioğlu and Nuran Terzioğlu is Apel. This gallery is her life. She is even described as the soul of the gallery and an icon and pioneer among the people who have established galleries in Istanbul.
Born in 1944, Terzioğlu showed an interest in art from early on and later she studied in the U.S. and attended a Bauhaus School in Germany. She apparently never had in mind to become an artist although she studied textiles and other art forms. Her interest in textiles has influenced her feelings for fiber and fabric, for touch that form the basis of a number of the exhibitions that she has curated.
She was in Ankara for many years and after her children had grown she began to put together a professional life and became involved in curating art exhibitions. In 1983 she began managing the Tanbay Gallery in Ankara and curated her first exhibition in 1984. She later went to the Urart Gallery in Ankara until 1994. Then in 1997 she moved to Istanbul when her husband, Prof. Dr. Tosun Terzioğlu, was named founding rector of Sabancı University. She has two daughters who are in academia and one young grandson.
In Istanbul Terzioğlu opened her own gallery called Apel where she has curated thematic exhibitions of around 100 shows for some 60 artists, half of them curated thematic exhibitions. The gallery is in a building that is over a hundred years old but it seems to come from an older, more archaic era thanks to the work of the architect that renovated it leaving the brick of the walls still showing. It must have been an extraordinary job to remove the decades old paint and plaster from the walls. The wooden floors and ribbed ceilings add to the interest. Terzioğlu started planning it in 1994 with architect Nevzat Sayin.
The building was constructed for a family named Apelyan by an Italian architect at the end of the 19th century. Hence the name Apel with a meaning of "Call, attract, appeal, invite." It was built as an apartment building. The first floor was used as a residence while the ground floor was the workshop of a carpenter who was there for 30 years. So as with many of such buildings found in Beyoğlu, it stands as a testament to another era.
Interesting because so many people comment on the building, how it forms a special background for the works, how much the works suit the building. Those who know the gallery are always surprised at the exhibitions she organizes. When asked she admits that shes also surprised, pointing out that the gallerys architecture makes for surprises.
Many although not all of the exhibitions have been about the dimension of touch, something that undoubtedly comes from her background in textiles. More interesting since the Turkish language has not had a word for texture until recently and even today neologisms are found to convey what you feel as you touch something.
Nor are all of the exhibitions thematic, and each of the art pieces to be shown may be quite different. This is where Terzioğlu also shines. The artists leave it to her to organize the shows as she has a lot of experience and they trust her. She is able to bring things together with her multi-faceted personality, as one person described her.
Terzioğlu especially opens Apels doors to young artists who have little experience and of course they are contemporary and emerging artists. Many are local artists. What is particularly heartening is that she is willing to take chances to show new artists works.
According to Terzioğlu, gallery owners who deal with artists and people who come to view art works have an obligation to give people hope. Artists give people hope. She believes in the power of art to solve most problems.
Asked how she would describe herself, she says shes an optimist, likes water and the phases of the moon, loves peace, hates war and weapons. Music? She loves all music - folklore because it reflects the place it comes from, pointing out that the latter can suggest many things including a wind blowing gently off the mountain meadows. Is Nuran Terzioğlu a romantic? Undoubtedly.
Ten years on the people of Istanbul are showing more and more interest in the arts. For example, there are more and more museums being opened and there must be several hundred art galleries scattered throughout the city. The Istanbul art world is beginning to have an impact in Europe. Some of the larger auction houses such as Sothebys is considering opening an office in Istanbul. And its not just Ottoman Turkish items that these houses are looking for now. This explosion in Turkish artistic creativity and the interest in it could affect the Balkans and the Middle East as well. Certainly in recent years the cost of purchasing artwork in Turkey has grown considerably, sometimes reaching unexpected heights.
One of the best people to serve as a guide through the Turkeys contemporary art scene is none other than Nuran Terzioğlu. You would think she didnt have time to keep abreast of all the developments but she does. And it is thanks to her that many of the countrys young artists have been able to show in her gallery and been encouraged to continue with their efforts. She goes to the many modern art exhibitions that open in Istanbul and bienals. You wouldnt think she has time for anything else but her favorite authors include Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Orhan Pamuk, Murathan Mungan and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Moving on and elsewhere
Terzioğlu put on a show in Japan in 2004 and there was a reciprocal Japanese exhibition in Istanbul in 2006 at Apel. Another exhibition was put on in Diyarbakir with Anadolu Kültür (a civil initiative founded in 2002 to facilitate circulating art through Anatolia and facilitate cross-cultural collaborations and exchange) and the Diyarbakir Arts Center in 2005. The exhibition she organized included works by 34 artists from Istanbul and from Diyarbakır. The theme she chose was Nevruz or New Day that is customarily celebrated every year in Diyarbakir and in the region.
The reception of the exhibition in Diyarbakir was overwhelming, and people even came from outside Diyarbakir. The dialogue was great and once the exhibition was over, wearing hand painted green gloves everyone joined hands and enjoyed the excitement of the halay, a joyous round dance usually performed spontaneously. This special moment is one that surely characterizes Terzioğlu Ğ her belief that sharing brings peace. She told the Daily News, "I like everything that brings people together."
She also tells the Daily News that if she had a larger budget, she would open exhibitions in other places, in other words more support would be welcome. She already signaled her interest with the Diyarbakir exhibition and the tenth anniversary celebrations for Apel Galeri itself. In the latter case October saw shows at the gallery and at the French Cultural Center and the Depot. The exhibition was entitled "My Name is Apel" "Je mappelle apel" and nothing could be closer to the truth for Nuran Terzioğlus name is Apel.
Current exhibition at Apel: tabankes, wayfarer
"Tabankes"(dictionary meaning: wayfarer; the one who walks and exclusively walks, the eternal foot traveler.) Aslimay Altay Goney encountered this word in Abidin Dinos book Sinan. She thought this term could very well be the tittle of her exhibition where she worked up on a visual road story on Devshirme kids who were obliged to wayfare to Istanbul all the way from middle Anatolia.
THE ReadIng ROOM-a corner
Apel is known for its thematic exhibitions, and in the past ten years it has seen certain artists repeatedly display their takes on the art of the book. Gallery Apel has, starting in 2007, begun a series of exhibitions under the heading "the reading roomÑa corner" within the framework of the Frankfurt Book Fair, at which Turkey was the Guest of Honor.
Drawing their inspiration from Turkeys unique culture, the artists have produced contemporary interpretations of the book using materials that range from soap and orange peels to pens, pencils and light. The first of the exhibitions was held in the 2007 International Frankfurt Book Fair Turkish Pavilion, while the second took place in late 2007 at Santa Maria Della Scala as part of the 1st International Sienna Book Fair (TERRA DI LIBRI).
In 2008 "the reading corner" Contemporary Bookart From Turkey was on display in hall 4.1, Book Art Square, set aside each year for BUCHDRUCKKUNST from Hamburg.
Nuran Terzioğlu this time (2009) is invited as a curator and guest speaker at the opening of the Sixth North Germany Handprint Fair. Terzioğlu has prepared a new version of the exhibition entitled "Reading Corner." The fair, organized by Buch Druck Kunst takes place on Jan. 17 and 18 at Museum der Arbeit ın Hamburg. Contributing artists are: Aslimay Altay, Aydan Baktir, Azade Koker, Bayram Candan, Can Göknil, Raziye Kubat, Yücel Kale, Kurucu Kocanoğlu, Yıldız Sermet, Suzy Hug Levy, Selma Gürbüz, Esma Pacal Turam, Bahadır Yıldız .Gallery Apel at Museum der Arbeit in Hamburg The 6. North Germany Handprint Fair fromJan. 16-19 2009.
At Galeri Apel until Jan. 3, 2009.