London Art Fair 2018 announced Nilbar Güreş, represented by Galerie Tanja Wagner, as the winner of the De’Longhi Art Projects Artist Award 2018.
Güreş’ work was exhibited as part of ’Dialogues’, an exhibition which invites pairs of international galleries to collaborate around a shared theme. In a first for London Art Fair 2018, this year’s edition of ’Dialogues’ features exclusively female or female-identifying artists whose work addresses the diverse experiences and identities of women. In doing so the curator Misal Adnan Yıldız aimed to address the lack of representation of women, especially non-European women, within the art world.
Nilbar Güreş, who identifies as a feminist queer artist, chooses a performative approach for her works, using photography, collage, drawing and video to place everyday realities into theatrical settings in order to explore cultural identity and codes. Güreş’ works are characterised by a playful and humouristic approach that is nonetheless both political and critical, addressing the effects of sexism, violence and gender inequality. Her work draws upon first-hand research and cultural observation, with Güreş often living with her subjects in order to experience their environments.
Güreş was born in 1977 in Istanbul, Turkey, and studied at the Department of Fine Arts at the Marmara University in Istanbul, and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. It is evident in much of her work that her cultural heritage is of great importance to her, although it also acts in conflict with other facets of her identity, with Anatolian narratives, symbols and fabrics inspiring her works. Head Standing Totem for example, created in Brazil for the São Paolo Biennial, draws upon Güreş’ Anatolian background, using scarves and serving cups within the composition, as well as making references to the indigenous cultures she encountered in Brazil. This trip also provided inspiration for a recently created collage on display at London Art Fair entitled Jumping Bed. The work evokes the ideas of wilderness and escapism, in a physical sense but also making reference to the wilderness of queerness and the empowerment that comes from escaping societal conventions and limitations. Güreş’ practice also encompasses video works, for example Wolf and Lamb, featuring two children playing in animal masks (the boy as a wolf, and the girl a lamb), inviting the viewer to challenge the gendered conventions they may be subjected to as adults.
Galerie Tanja Wagner, based in Berlin, works with a diverse group of emerging artists with strong social and political positions whose work fosters discussions about society and the humanity of the individual. The gallery facilitates the exchange of thoughts and beliefs, and also actively contributes to the expansion of a diverse and gender-balanced art market.
Nilbar Güreş will have her first solo exhibition in Berlin at Galerie Tanja Wagner, opening 23 February 2018, followed by a solo exhibition at Lentos Museum, Graz in June this year.