Women Artists from Turkey: Leyla Gediz

A Dream…but not Yours: Contemporary Art From Turkey is opening on February 12th in our second floor galleries and will feature 11 inspiring women artists.

Leyla Gediz, Turn, 70x50cm, Oil on Canvas

The first artist that struck my interest in the show was Leyla Gediz, a young painter and native of Istanbul. Her work echoes the propaganda of the pop artists of the 1960s, yet adds a more personal, almost autobiographical spin on the subject. She experiments with mixed media, oil, acrylic, as well as stenciling, adding an urban graffiti edge. Gediz has three paintings in the show, TurnRepublican, and Terakki Remix, all created within the last four years. The paintings, along with the others in the exhibition, play with ideas of gender roles for women in contemporary Turkey. A woman is destined to play a certain role in society, but can she step out of that role under socially complex circumstances and reach for her own dream?

Turn, in my opinion, seems to be the standout of the three works by Gediz. It features a monochromatic  Hollywood glamour shot of Orlando Bloom with another image of a winding, abandoned road transposed over his face.  It seems as if Gediz has removed identity in this piece and replaced it with desolate feelings of the unknown, perhaps what fame and fortune can do to one’s stigma. True character is for the viewer to decide.

Leyla Gediz, Republican, 2006, 50×60 cm, Oil on canvas

Another piece by Gediz is Republican, a series of four identical portraits of the artist’s literature teacher, done in the stereotypical Che Guevara revolutionary format. The image of Gediz’s teacher was taken from a speech she gave on Turkish Republic Day, which celebrates the creation of the republic in Turkey after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.  Gediz’s teacher must have had an inspirational impact on her life, as she has given her a revolutionary, dictatorial position within the painting. The final piece in the show is Terakki Remix, a section of wallpaper patterning. Gediz used a stencil to trace the silouhettes of a man and small child into on intricate pattern. The work is simple yet effective and plays with the relationship between parent and child.

Leyla Gediz is just one installment from A Dream…but not Yours: Contemporary Art from Turkey.

About the Author: Ali Printz is currently an intern in the Library and Research Center at NMWA