Art at the “Avantgarde” Hotels: Interview with İsmet Öztanık
Art at the “Avantgarde” Hotels: Interview with İsmet Öztanık
Interview: Yasemin Elçi
Translation: İpek Yeğinsü
İsmet Öztanık, the creator of the Avantgarde brand visible in many areas of Istanbul with its hotels, has 25 years of experience in hotel management. He also adds an artistic element to his family business by sponsoring various important contemporary art events and artists and thus sets a unique example for all emerging collectors.
On July 17, while the exhibition “Celebrities | Ünlüler” organized in collaboration with Art50.net continues at the Avantgarde Hotel Yalıkavak, we talked to him about how he supports art as an institution and as an individual, the place of art in his life and his collection.
Can you inform us a little bit about your history in hotel management? When did art become part of your hotels first?
We have a 25-year history of hotel management as a family. We are both investors and managers, it started in Taksim and continued in Levent, Şişli and Bodrum. We always operated in the four-star sector until 2010. Due to harsh competition and difficult market conditions, and also to the level of development in Turkish hospitality sector, the art element at our hotels did not develop until 2009. This side of ours first manifested itself at the first branch of Avantgarde Hotels in Levent.
Where does your personal interest in art come from? Did you receive any education in this field? Does your family have a collectorship history?
After I studied Political Science at Koç University I did my master’s education in England and returned to Turkey in 2009. But in my entire curriculum I selected some courses in art history, drama, and the impact of art on individuals and society. In other words in my personal life art has always had a place. There was no one in my family interested in art before me. The private and institutional collections were born with my initiative.
How does the Avantgarde brand identify itself with art?
I personally conducted the emergence of the Avantgarde brand. Elif Özsezen and Bera Ertürk created the chaos within harmony sculpture for our Levent branch. Our logo design was also inspired by that sculpture.
How did you start collecting and organizing exhibitions?
At our inaugural opening we collaborated with Lebriz Art and in the beginning we particularly focused on collecting works by female artists.This was a laboratory for us. We generally operated in line with recommendations. We tried to have a living city hotel and not a business hotel. In our rooms we used some canvas prints by the Turkish photographer Derin Özsezen who lives in the USA.
Do you have an art consultant?
Selin Yurtbilir, my old friend who is also Galeri Kuad’s partner became our art consultant. We continued our collaboration at our Taksim branch as well.
How did your interest in art contribute to your hotel business? Do you support art outside the hotels?
We want our guests to prefer us again once they come back and our aim is to offer them a home-like comfort. Consequently we wanted to carry this spark that was born in Levent into the other hotels as well.
We also support art by supporting Contemporary İstanbul, Art International and some temporary exhibitions. We try to position our name in the right places in this art scene.We sponsor the right organizations by providing them with our spaces so that they can communicate themselves more accurately to their audiences. As a collector I emphasize their contribution both in my intimate circles and as an institutional representative, in social gatherings and sectoral meetings.
Who are the other artists featured in your collection?
We acquired works by important artists including Burhan Doğançay, Suat Akdemir, Saba Barlas, Ardan Özmenoğlu, Ramazan Bayrakoğlu, Maide Bulak, Fatma Tülin Öztürk and Pınar Du Pre. We even acquired a sculpture piece by Ozan Oganer today, and it has the same height as me.
At your Bodrum, Yalıkavak branch you have inaugurated an exhibition titled “Celebrities | Ünlüler” in collaboration with Art50.net. Who are the featured artists? Have you ever done such a project in Bodrum before?
As we do in Istanbul, also in Yalıkavak we wanted to support some local artists first. In addition we hosted Kezban Arca Batıbeki.
On the other hand, we have currently inaugurated the “Celebrities | Ünlüler”exhibition in collaboration with Güliz Özbek Collini, the founder of art50.net who has valuable contributions in contemporary art scene and who, in my opinion, took the affordability and accessibility of art as a holy mission. Thus we aim at bringing together the right audiences and contemporary art in Yalıkavak. We will both reach the people living there and those travelling there during the summer.
How did you first meet Güliz Özbek Collini?
We met during an event at the Soho House. But her husband is a colleague of mine as well. Later I purchased a pop-art piece from them. I followed the artists they represented and their contributions to affordable art with respect and admiration. We will continue our collaboration in the investments to come.
Do you consider investment value when purchasing art?
Absolutely. But my number one rule is to buy works that I will hang on my wall at home and that I will enjoy looking at. I would never buy works to be left at a corner or forgotten in storage. I think the acquired work must be visible. I prefer investing in the future by selecting artists the exciting career ups and downs of whom I can personally witness rather than the established ones. I’m a young collector and I prefer those young people to become part of my own memories.
Have you ever thought of exhibiting your private collection?
I haven’t yet, but this year I may collaborate with Contemporary Istanbul to organize a gathering and exhibit my collection.
Your suggestions to a beginner contemporary art collector? How would these suggestions change for an institutional beginner?
My number one suggestion which I also follow in my practice is to definitely buy art if they go above their regular monthly income. On the other hand, institutions should, in the light of qualified experts’ advice, prefer names that will grow and blossom with them, so that their office, shopping center or hotel spaces become liveable and constantly preferable. This is a must both from the perspective of social responsibility and to build the right legacy.
“Celebrities | Ünlüler” continues at the Avantgarde Hotel Yalıkavak in collaboration with art50.net until September 30.
Görsel 1: İsmet Öztanık portrait
Görsel 2: Genco Gülan, “Four-Eyed Marilyn”, digital print on canvas, 95 x 95 cm, 2015 (from the exhibition “Celebrities”)
Görsel 3: Genco Gülan, “Four-Eyed Vincent”, acrylic on canvas, 80 x 120 cm, 2015 (from the exhibition “Celebrities”)
Görsel 4: Ayna, “Sun of Art”, photography, 5 editions, 70 x 100 cm, 2012 (from the exhibition “Celebrities”)
Görsel 5: Hadra Tanrıverdi Birecik, “Inner Flow 3” & “Inner Flow 2”, mixed media on canvas, 2014 (from the exhibition “Celebrities”)
The interview is taken from Sanatonline.net.