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Fusun Onur

Füsun Onur

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Füsun Onur (born 1938, Kuzguncuk, Istanbul) is one of Turkey's pioneering contemporary artists. In her work, Onur uses everyday materials to reflect on the potentials of space, time, rhythm and form. The artist explores the boundaries of painting and sculpture. She lives and works in Istanbul.

Onur attended the Department of Sculpture at the Istanbul Academy of Fine Arts, where she was a student of Ali Hadi Bara. Rewarded a Fulbright scholarship, she continued her master's degree in sculpture at Maryland College of Art, Department of Sculpture.

Her work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions at Maçka Sanat Galerisi (1987, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2012), Istanbul Modern (2011), Augarten Contemporary, Vienna (2010), Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2005), ZKM, Karlsruhe (2004), and the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2001). She has participated in dOCUMENTA(13), the Istanbul Biennial (2011, 1999, 1995, 1987) and the Moscow Biennale (2007).

ARTER in Istanbul hosted her first comprehensive survey exhibition entitled Through the Looking Glass in 2014. Curated by ARTER's Exhibitions Director Emre Baykal, the exhibition brought together more than forty works, ranging from early abstract geometric drawings to installations that employ daily objects such as toys, textiles, and furniture.

In a 1987 artist talk at Maçka Sanat Galerisi, Onur said, “The artwork ends with the explanation of the artist.” The artist however wrote texts on exhibitions at Taksim Art Gallery. In her writing on a 1976 artwork by Cengiz Çekil, Onur also criticizes critics for their "irresponsible, effortless, arbitrary habit of appreciation or lack thereof."

Onur's work has been part of public collections, including Tate Modern in London, MAK in Vienna, and Van Abbemuseum, among others.

In a conversation with curator Özge Ersoy, collector Agah Uğur states that Musical Chair, a 1976 work by Onur is the pivotal work for his collection. Emblematic of the artist's intention to challenge traditional sculpting materials in the 1970s, the work consists of a wooden box with a tiny red chair on top. Uğur says that the work's exhibition history is crucial, as the work was rejected from the State Art and Sculpture Exhibition in 1976, with an Academy painting department tutor calling it “a child’s toy.”

In a conversation with curators Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Hans Ulrich Obrist, published in conjunction with dOCUMENTA(13), Onur states, “I forget, İlhan [her sister] remembers and asks.” Onur's sister Ilhan plays a major role in the preservation of her artworks, "If Ilhan was not involved, there would not even be the photographs. There would be nothing."

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