Olafur Eliasson in Istanbul

Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson’s work has excited and inspired people from all over the world. The acclaimed artist is now a guest of Istanbul Modern with a comprehensive selection from his stellar career spanning three decades. Sponsored by the Eczacıbaşı Group and VitrA, the exhibition titled ‘Olafur Eliasson: Your Unexpected Encounter’ is the artist’s first exhibition in Turkey.

Olafur Eliasson’s first exhibition in Turkey will showcase a selection of nearly 40 works that focus on subjects such as water, light, color, perception, movement, geometry, and the environment. Eliasson has always emphasized the idea that his art is complete only in the presence of an audience. According to him, one of the main components of his work is active audience interaction. The concepts presented by the artist in various contexts and scales turn into unique experiences as viewers become part of a dynamic discovery process. Bearing traces from different places around the world, the ‘Your Unexpected Encounter’ exhibition begins with the artist’s site-specific permanent installation, ‘Your Unexpected Journey,’ a custom design for the new museum building made of reflective circular surfaces that contrasts with the sharp angles of the architecture, creating surprises that transform infinitely.

The works in the Temporary Exhibition Hall on the museum’s second floor reveal the artist’s interest in current global affairs and the subjects on which he has built his career. Including installations, sculptures, and photographs, the works in ‘Your Unexpected Encounter’ might be laid out thematically in the exhibition hall; however, the artist’s works that incorporate multiple subjects and concepts are a striking demonstration of interdisciplinary relationships and permeability. Produced specifically for the exhibition, ‘From Sunset to Dawn, Bosporus,’ brings the ever-changing colors of the Bosporus indoors and acts as an introduction to the rest of the exhibition, which proceeds to color experiments and watercolors. The work using blown glass panels arranged on driftwood at the exhibition’s entrance combines Eliasson’s interest in color and light with water. Another prominent theme in the exhibition is light and the nature of light. The lenses, reflective surfaces, projections, colored glasses, and kaleidoscopes allow Eliasson to experiment with perception, space, and geometry.

Known for his large-scale installations on sustainability and the climate crisis, Olafur Eliasson’s ‘Your unexpected encounter’ exhibition also coincides with a particular time as the artist celebrates his 30th year in art, and Istanbul Modern celebrates its 20th year. The exhibition, curated by Öykü Özsoy Sağnak, Nilay Dursun, and Ümit Mesci from Istanbul Modern, will be open until 9 February 2025. istanbulmodern.org