Turkish painter Burhan Dogancay dead at 83

Posted January 17th, 2013 under Contemporary Art, Graffiti, Murals, News, Turkey

Burhan Dogancay
Turkish painter Burhan Dogancay, whose work has been exhibited in some 70 museums worldwide, including New York’s Metropolitan Art Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, has died. He was 83. Bergin Azer, director of the Dogancay Museum, said the artist died Tuesday of an undisclosed illness in Istanbul. Much of Dogancay’s art was inspired by graffiti, torn posters and banners found on city walls. His museum in Istanbul, which opened in 2004, was the first contemporary art museum in Turkey. Dogancay’s paintings are part of the permanent collections at the Metropolitan Art Museum and the Guggenheim. One of his paintings sold for $1.7 million at an Istanbul auction in 2009 — the highest price paid for a contemporary art painting in Turkey. Dogancay is survived by his wife.

Dogançay was fascinated by urban walls and chose them as his subject. He saw them as the barometer of our society and a testament to the passage of time, reflecting social, political and economic changes, frequently withstanding the assault of the elements and the markings left by people.

In the mid-1970s, Dogançay embarked on what he saw then as his secondary project: photographing urban walls all over the globe. Over time, this project gained importance as well as content and after four decades now encompasses over 100 countries. These photographs are an archive of our time and the seeds for his paintings, which in and by themselves are also documentary of the era in which we live. With posters and objects gathered from walls forming the main ingredient for his work, it is only logical that Dogançay’s preferred medium has been predominantly ‘collage’ and to some extent ‘fumage’. Dogançay re-creates walls in different series.

In the 1970s and 1980s he gained fame with his interpretation of urban walls in his signature ribbons series, which in contrast to his collaged billboard works such as the Cones Series, Doors Series or Walls of Alexander consist of clean paper strips and their calligraphy|calligraphically-shaped shadows. This series later gave rise to aluminum composite material shadow sculptures and Aubusson Tapestries.

- Homepage for The Dogançay Museum

Photo by Uğur Bektaş