A project launched by Omar Berakdar.
In Istanbul, Crossing the Bosphorus by boat is always an enchanting experience.
After leaving from the European riverside where many art galleries are aggregated, we reached the Asian side, in Kadiköy where we discovered ARTHERE, an all-in-one gallery, residency and shelter.
Omar welcomed the three of us, Virgile Mangiavillano (from the ADFE Democratic Association of French Abroad), Olivier and myself, to share a cup of tea in this house open to artists, whose walls are covered with paintings and photographs. Some of the tables are busy and a small buffet offers homemade pastries, tea and coffee for a few Turkish liras.
Omar is a Syrian photographer and media artist who arrived in Istanbul in 2012, a year after the beginning of the war. Faced with the challenges of adapting and integrating, he is well aware of the tricky paths and the courage needed to avoid letting an exhausting job overtake the need for painting, drawing and practising photography.
This is why he set up ARTHERE.
The ground floor is dedicated to exhibiting, exchanging, and reading, while the first floor accommodates painting studios/spaces and the basement contains a dark, a very dark room!
The courtyard is used as a workshop for building frames and sculpting; There we crossed the path of the cats of the house.
A place of residency, ARTHERE currently hosts fifteen young artists, many of whom from Syria, but also young Turks who cannot afford work spaces.
On a regular basis, they organise lectures, exhibitions and concerts there. These are always free, because Omar aims to make art and its multiple expressions fully accessible to all.
Of course, the means are modest and support must be found, for instance, from the French community.
Notably, in recent years Omar has introduced several young artists at exhibitions organised through Istanbul Accueil. Today, some of these artists are exhibiting in Paris, Berlin and elsewhere.
However, the project that is closest to Omar’s heart today is the organisation of a group exhibition of young artists from all walks of life in collaboration with other galleries working in the same way.
Finding a space, partners, material and financial support, these are tomorrow’s challenges.
As the President of the ADFE Virgile Mangiavillano is committed to supporting the project, federating other associations, and fining volunteers.
In turn, once the project is launched, Paysages Humains will bring its financial support.
This rich and stimulating moment ended on open and positive notes.
We will follow Omar’s footsteps and be back with more images and reports about the progress of this project of artistic encounters.
Text by Sandrine
Member of ResArtis: International Network of Artists in Residence: http://www.resartis.org/en/residencies/list_of_residencies/?id_content=7254
Listen to Omar’s interview on the BBC: