She is after new pursuits in the world of art and presents new approaches for artists and collectors with her own hinterland. When this is the case, formations addressing each actor in the market make a difference. We talked about her consultancy company, activity fields, breaking points in the art and time with Sevil Dolmacı who has brought a breath of fresh air in terms of the institutionalization of art in Turkey.
Interview by Dilek Öztürk
Photographed by Göhkan Polat
Could you describe an ordinary day of yours?
I get up early in the morning. After a walk and a breakfast in Maçka Park, I go to my office and have a cup of Turkish coffee. I generally have meetings and lunches within the day. The rush goes on and on. Sometimes a glass of wine accompany this. Exhibitions openings and dinners are a part of my work in the evenings.
How would you define time?
Salvador Dali defined time with his painting “La persistencia de la memoria” very well. It is exactly the same for me; I cannot keep it, it just goes by, melts and goes away, a day is definitely not enough for me. It ends with the rush of reaching some places.
What does icon or being an icon mean to you?
Professionalism, being strong and leading.
You have established the first international art consultancy company in Turkey. Let’s speed up then talking about this. What kind of a need have you determined in the market after serving as an art consultancy at huge companies and this journey has started?
It was a natural consequence of such a long process and experience. I have an international team. I studied art history and have a master and doctorate degree on contemporary art. I studied abroad and worked at museums and galleries there. Having returned to Turkey, I served as a consultant at institutional collections such as Kabakçı Collection, Demsa Collection, Demirören Collection etc. My business relations with abroad have been quite intense for the last four years. There has been a significant interest in art in recent years in Turkey and concerning people opt for receiving advices from experts. And there are foreign companies that entered into the Turkish market. They started to look for art consultancy companies with teams for their art investments and couldn’t find any. I happened to have a regular client portfolio since they have been consulting me since 2009. I believed that this area should have been institutionalized because I witnessed closely how this evolved abroad and I established a company for the first time under this name. Taking into account all of these, I started to carry out this work which I had been carrying out myself with a team under my company. This is the story in short…
You brought all of the actors about art under a single roof. How do you manage the process?
As I have just mentioned, this point is a consequence of a long experience. I have extended cooperations with artists, my close friends and collectors. I work with art professionals such as authors, academicians and dealers working in this field. I have a long time cooperation with galleries. Artists, collectors, gallery operators, business world, publishing houses… I am bringing all these under a single roof and I determine those that need each other and gather them. What I sort of do what a “matchmaker” do. If you know the market well, you know those that should be brought together.
Is a new era starting in the art community?
We are living in an era when technology develops really fast, trends are constantly being renewed and everything is being consumed quickly. Even though we cannot trace back to the history of art in Turkey for very long in terms of both application and institutionalization; new, practical and professional searches in the present system draw attention and are in demand. I believe that this process will be very beneficial for Turkey where the new attempts required to institutionalize the art are at the stage of evolving. The structuring that I am trying to form is also a very important step. It is for sure that there will be new perceptions and demands which will require professional teams and technology and new and practical systems will be preferred. This may mean a new era in terms of art.
Then, what makes you strong and shine in this field which is that tough and rarifies competition?
That I have been doing this with a background. I come from academia and have been working with leading persons in Turkey for many years. I managed significant projects. I had the opportunities which would not easily be provided for any art historian in Turkey. Working with important people in Turkey and in the world contributed to me a lot and allowed to shine out among other people engaged in this business.
How is your academic identity is effective while working with young artists?
Most of them are my students. So I am familiar with the education and development process of all of them. Working like this makes everything easier and more beneficial. I know the what, how and why they do things. Their trust in me (for being their teacher) is also very important because they surrender completely without any hesitations.
Who do you have in your team?
Our general coordinator, Rüya Arıman studied art history in Brussels and concentrated especially on the war and post-war period. She worked at Christie’s Auction House and served as a coordinator at Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat, Vedat Nedim Tör Museum and Kazım Taşkent Art Gallery. She is quite experienced in her field. Nimet Şahingiray is an art consultant in our team. She studied in Switzerland and worked at Portakal Auction House and Demsa Collection for long years. She currently supports us for auction relations. She is an art professional in charge of fairs, museums and galleries in London. Lars Malmberg in an influencial person in art networks in Europe, especially in cities such as Zurich, Basel and Geneva. He is the owner Proart Gallery and has a background of 30 years. He organized more than 200 exhibitions with important people such as Sam Francis, Jim Dine. And Thomas Arnold provides consultancy services for contemporary art in the USA. He was the director of Asia Contemporary Art Fair NY and served as a manager at Mary Boone Gallery for fourteen years. Finally, he supported Leila Heller Gallery as a manager.
As far as I know you like being in a metropolis and reflecting metropolis. Could you explain the contribution of metropolis to you and what it takes away from you as a person representing the productive world?
I live in Nişantaşı, which means I am in a neighborhood which is preferred by a segment dealing with productive works such as authors, painters, collectors, fashion designer and so on. This is something that develops me. I also believe that the cosmopolitan structure feeds me. My lifestyle and occupation are so nested that both of them can only exist in a metropolis.
We are in Narmanlı Apartment Building right now. This is a significant architectural element having an important place in the urban remembrance of Istanbul. How did the story of the building bind you here?
Narmanlı Apartment Building is one of the important structures of 20th century urban architecture. Its story begins with the passion of Hacı Mustafa Bey from Erzurum for corner buildings. Mustafa Bey had three children, two of whom were males and the other one was female. His daughter got crossed with him after he left the apartment building for his sons. Then he had a new apartment building built next to the two adjacent apartment houses to soften her. People who resided here are quite interesting. Mithat Cemal Kuntay and Ayşe Kulin are one of them… It is a ravishing space which hasn’t lost the historical fabric with its inner architecture such as high ceilings, ceiling kerbs and columns. My dream since I moved to Istanbul has been to open a space in relation to contemporary art here and it came true. Finding a place in such buildings are pretty tough. Our building hosts three contemporary art galleries with its historical fabric.
Do you think are art activities in Turkey sufficient?
It is actually getting better day by day. Istanbul Modern and Sabancı Museum have an important role in this regard. For instance, the latest Zero Exhibition at Sabancı Museum is a significant exhibition for Turkey. However, there is an insufficiency in terms of institutions other than museums and galleries. Tightness of sponsors prevents being more active. There are few independent platforms. There are deficiencies but we have to keep going.
Who are the artists and designers you follow and why do you follow them?
I am especially into minimal drawings and abstract forms. Artists that I follow in Turkey are Haluk Akakçe, Kemal Önsoy, Ekrem Yalçındağ, Gülay Semercioğlu, Seyhun Topuz, Koray Ariş. The foreign ones that I like are Frank Stella, Gerhard Richter, Ian Davenport, Anselm Reyle. I find the designs of Alev Ebuziyya very strong. Faruk Malhan and Derin Sarıyer are other people that I can say. My favorite from abroad is absolutely Philippe Starck. Following them are Karim Rashid and Arik Levy. Undoubtedly, I like Zaha Hadid very much in terms of architecture and I am also acquainted with him because we worked together.
As you know transdisciplinary cooperations are becoming intense. What do you thinj about the points where the art intersects architecture and design?
Right on mark. Especially digital and neon works have lately been nested with architecture and design. Works in which neon is integrated with architecture are my interest. I follow Daniel Firman’s neon works and Jenny Holzer’s projection works redounding on the city as much as possible.
Can you talk about the means you utilize to follow the agenda?
I frequently travel abroad, see museums and visit galleries. New restaurants and trendy places are necessarily in my list. I attend auctions and fairs abroad. This allows me to exist in the international art market, update myself and to be incorporated into the world. I use Instagram as a social media tool very actively and I share the art activities in Turkey and in the world and follow active posts very closely.
Do you take the positive or negative sides of time?
I have always been a person focusing on the positive sides of things. This is why, definitely the positive sides of time outweigh. Time has always allowed me to perform things that I like in the best way.
How does it make you feel to wear an IWC watch?
A watch is an absolute must for me since I spend my life looking at the time. And wearing IWC is a privileged feeling.