Project Description

Gülsün Karamustafa
The Peculiar Song

Gülsün Karamustafa- Installation view 'The Peculiar Song' Karamustafa

Installation view ‘The Peculiar Song’

Nitra Gallery is pleased to present Gülsün Karamustafa’s solo show in Athens, Greece, The Peculiar Song.

Gülsün Karamustafa (b. 1946) is regarded as one of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century in Turkey. The exhibition The Peculiar Song at Nitra Gallery consists of several themes in different mediums such as paintings, assemblages with found objects, photo collages and a film video.

Istanbul’s extensive history and its multi-layered visual registers have always of Karamustafa’s interest. Picking up on the history of Istanbul, a city with a population that has grown into 20 million in less than half a century, Karamustafa essentially discusses issues of history and memory loss.

New artworks

A series of assemblages with found objects as well as collages of photos of people who once lived in the city, are presented in the exhibition, highlighting notions of memory and identity. Moving on to the space, a series of under-glass paintings dig deep to find the traces and the remnants of the city’s diverse cultures. The technique refers to a traditional Turkish practice that was primarily found in paintings at Turkish coffeehouses and barbershops of the 19th and early 20th century. The printed themes, mixed with paper collages, are drawn from covers of popular magazines of the second decade of the 20th century. In this context, a new video film called ‘Madam Marta’ is exhibited. The video is an ode to an Egyptian Coptic/Armenian woman who was a resident of Burgaz Island in Istanbul.

Lastly, new works of the Promised Paintings series are presented. Karamustafa who is inspired by Byzantine imagery comments on this work: ’An icon maker is only the hand of ‘god’ and as such never has the initiative to paint as him- or herself. Promised Paintings gave me a very special kind of freedom and became an inventive game for me as I never wished to obey the rules of ‘peinture’ that were thoroughly imposed by the art milieu in the 1980s’.

The Peculiar Song presents new works which address issues evident in the artist’s practice throughout the years, along with works of established ongoing series, therefore bringing together the essence of Karamustafa’s practice.

Gülsün Karamustafa in Greece

Karamustafa has presented her work in Greece on many occasions until now. First of all, on the occasion of her commissioned work The Apartment Building (EMST–National Museum of Contemporary Art, 2012 Athens) which was later exhibited as part of documenta 14 at Museum Fridericianum (2017, Kassel, Germany) at the Exhibition ‘ANTIDORON. The EMST Collection’. Previously, in 2012 she was invited by the Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art (curated by Adelina von Furstenberg)  and in 2006 at The Grand Promenade exhibition, curated by Anna Kafetsi, shown at the Melina Mercouri Foundation in Athens.



Gülsün Karamustafa was born in 1946 in Ankara, Turkey. She graduated from the Istanbul State Fine Arts Academy in 1969 and lives and works in Istanbul.

She participated in the following Biennales: International Istanbul Biennials (1987, 1992, 1995), Kwangju (2000), Havana and Cetinje (2003), Seville Biennial (2004), Guangzou Triennial, Cairo Biennial (2008), Singapore Biennial (2011), Kiev Biennale (2012), Thessaloniki Biennale (2013), Sao Paulo and Gwangju Biennial (2014).

Her works are included in the collections of: the Nationalgalerie Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, MUMOK, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Vienna, Tate Modern London, Guggenheim Museum New York, Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, Istanbul Modern, among others.


** We would like to thank BüroSarıgedik for their support  in the realization of this exhibition.