Ahu Akgün is a painter based in Istanbul. She graduated from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in 2009 and travelled to Germany to earn a Master’s degree in Painting and Textile at Burg Giebichenstein Hochschule für Kunst und Design in 2010. In 2018, she received a Master’s degree in Visual Arts and Communication from Sabançı University, in Istanbul.
Akgün’s paintings ask us to stop and contemplate. She is a painter’s painter, often focusing on her immediate surroundings. Whether it is her friends, objects, or flowers, all receive the same meticulous attention when becoming her subjects. Ahu‘s work addresses mundane events, which she infuses with the mystic air of moments suspended in time. The masterful rendering of the figures and the paint on the surface seduces us first, yet beyond the surface, longing begins to permeate our viewing experience. With a mood more akin to reverie rather than anguish or despair, Ahu’s work moves into a realm akin to the still-lives of Giorgio Morandi, and reminiscent of early works by Lucien Freud, demonstrating that figuration and sustained observation are still very much relevant today.
Words are important to Ahu Akgün, who writes as she paints and is often inspired by literature as well. Her self-portrait My Closed Eye, My Sighted Eye, which she will present through In the Flesh, is inspired by the biographic book Miraculous Mandarin by Aslı Erdoğan. Both, Erdoğan and Ahu, suffer from an eye condition that limits their physical vision, while palpably expanding their perception of the world.
Akgün’s compositions capture our gaze and push us to focus on the unspoken tensions of small details. She reveals the instant, like in Home Home, a portrait of her artist friend Ayça Telgeren, standing off-center, exposing the vulnerability of her shoe-less feet, and hollow heart. Ahu’s bodies tell stories as large as life in nearly full-scale canvases, which she paints in close proximity to the surface with very small brushes, translating intimacy into the very act of painting.
Ahu Akgun exhibits regularly, as part of solo and group shows in museums and contemporary art spaces in Turkey and New York since 2012. She was the recipient of the Akbank 37th Contemporary Artists Prize for her Underdog series, part of which is currently exhibited in In the Flesh.
2022 “Voids”, solo exhibition,Mixer
2020 “A Reason To Visit”, Mixer,solo exhibition, Istanbul
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2022 “Rounded by Sleep”, group exhibition, curated by Eda Berkmen, ARTER
2021 “Wizard and the Garden”, group exhibition, curated by Can Akgümüş, Erimtan Archaeology and Arts Museum
2021 “Past.Present.İstanbul”, group exhibition, curated by Murat Germen, Sakıp Sabancı Museum
2021 “Atış Serbest - Mecmu”, group exhibition, Barın Inn
2021 “Olympos Exhibitions II-Landscape”, group exhibition, curated by Taner Ceylan, Zulfaris Synagogue
2020 “Us Actually”, group exhibition, curated by director Can Kilcioglu, Mixer, Istanbul
2019 Akbank Contemporary ArtistPrize Exhibition, Akbank Art Center, Istanbul
2019 “Digestion Programme: Processor”, invited by Birbuçuk Kolektif, 16th Istanbul Biennial, Mimar, Sinan Fine Arts University Museum of Painting and Sculpture
2019 “Atış Serbest -5”, group exhibition, MSGSU Tophane-i AmireCulture and Art Center, Cistern Galleries,Istanbul
2018 “Over and Over”, group exhibition, Mixer, Istanbul
2018 “Atış Serbest -4”, group exhibition, MSGSU Tophane-i Amire Culture and Art Center, Cistern Galleries, Istanbul
2018 “There is AnotherPossibility: About Open Space and Artist Collectives”, Kasa Gallery
2017 “Maybe, We will Benefitfrom Our Neighbor's Good Fortune”, group exhibition, Halka Sanat Project
2017 “Vesile”, group exhibition, HAH members together with Etem Şahin, Lara Ögel, Selim Birsel, HAH Mekan
2016 Mamut Art Project, group exhibition, Istanbul
2015 “Nuri Iyem Painting Awards2015” Exhibition, Evin Art Gallery, Istanbul
2013 “Memories of the Forgotten”, curated by Artshift, Adahan, Istanbul
2009 “Sakip Sabanci Art Awards”exhibition, Sakip Sabanci Museum, Istanbul
SELECTED PUBLICATIONS AND CATALOGUES
2022 “Voids”, ExhibitionCatalogue, published by Mixer
2022 “Rounded by Sleep”,Exhibition Catalogue, published by ARTER, (pp. 6-8)
2021 “Tell Me Your Story”,published by Paper Street Co. With the contribution of the Consulate General of Israel and Gnat Micro Press.(pp. 114-123)
2021 “Tuhaf Duygular, Tuhaf Diyaloglar”, Book Cover, Author: Ebru Ceylan, Doğan Kitap
2021 “Past.Present.İstanbul”, Exhibition Catalogue (pp. 38-43)
2021 Moero Fanzine, 3rd Issue(Home), http://www.moero.org/ev-duvardir-biraz/
2021 Olympus Exhibitions II -Landscape, Exhibition Catalogue (pp. 86-93)
2020 Mangal Media, anillustration for the article entitled “The First Pop Song I Remember” by Sezgin İnceel and İlker Hepkaner
2019 37th Akbank Contemporary Artists Prize, Exhibition Catalogue, (pp. 22-27)
2018 HAH Calendar, published by Art Unlimited.
2017 “Vesile” ExhibitionCatalogue, published by HAH.