Shop the Show: Turkish Artist Sarp Kerem Yavuz’s Mesmerizing Works Speak to the Complexity of Masculine Identity

The Anna Laudel gallery in Düsseldorf has brought together a powerful selection of the artist's works made since 2010.

Sarp Kerem Yavuz, Dua (2016). Courtesy of Anna Laudel.
Sarp Kerem Yavuz, Dua (2016). Courtesy of Anna Laudel.

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What You Need to Know: Curated by Sena Çakırkaya, “The Last Orientalist” at Anna Laudel in Düsseldorf showcases the multifaceted, mixed-media work of young Turkish artist Sarp Kerem Yavuz. From beguiling, intimate photographic portraits of young men, to luridly colorful neon-and-LED lightbox sculptures, Kerem Yavuz’s diverse practice creates a mesmerizing world that reveals rarely seen aspects of Turkish culture. The artist and the curator, who first collaborated in 2013 for a photography exhibition at Istanbul Modern Museum titled “Close Quarters,” have now joined to present this carefully curated survey of Yavuz’s oeuvre since 2010.

Why We Like It: Kerem Yavuz’s work manages to be visually alluring while simultaneously addressing the political and cultural shifts happening in Turkey and around the world. His works explore the many aspects that form an identity—be it gender, sex, or culture—and how these identities can contradict one another and become confused within a patriarchal culture. The artist’s singular vision is one in which the East and the West blend hypnotically into a disorienting world that forces viewers to question their own assumptions. For one series, “In the Closet,” the artist took large-format photographs in locker rooms used by varsity sports teams while he was studying at Oberlin College and continued the series with new photographs staged in men’s Turkish baths, reflecting on the similarities and contrasts in male camaraderie between two different geographical locations and societies.

What the Gallery Says: With the ironic meaning hidden in the title, ‘The Last Orientalist’ features the 10-year creative journey of the artist, who, throughout his career, questioned representations of masculinity in the East and the West based on his own homosexual identity. Putting forward an ideological perspective on the art history of both territories, Yavuz reverses the language and techniques used in orientalist paintings of the Western world, where painters would portray the East the way they imagined it to be. Sarp Kerem Yavuz explores his culture, gender, and history based on his personal history, as well as the individual stories of others, with the ‘Substitutes For My Father’, ‘In the Closet’, ‘Maşallah’ and ‘Curse of the Forever Sultan’ series, and he critically, boldly and ironically examines his surroundings.”

 

Sarp Kerem Yavuz
Sütun (2015)
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Sarp Kerem Yavuz, Sütun (2015). Courtesy of Anna Laudel.

Sarp Kerem Yavuz, Sütun (2015). Courtesy of Anna Laudel.

 

Sarp Kerem Yavuz
Dua (2016)
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Sarp Kerem Yavuz, Dua (2016). Courtesy of Anna Laudel.

Sarp Kerem Yavuz, Dua (2016). Courtesy of Anna Laudel.

 

Sarp Kerem Yavuz
Nick (2012)
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Sarp Kerem Yavuz, Nick (2012). Courtesy of Anna Laudel.

Sarp Kerem Yavuz, Nick (2012). Courtesy of Anna Laudel.

 

Sarp Kerem Yavuz
Umur (2012)
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Sarp Kerem Yavuz, Umur (2012). Courtesy of Anna Laudel.

Sarp Kerem Yavuz, Umur (2012). Courtesy of Anna Laudel.

 

Sarp Kerem Yavuz
Fortune (2019)
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Sarp Kerem Yavuz, Fortune (2019). Courtesy of Anna Laudel.

Sarp Kerem Yavuz, Fortune (2019). Courtesy of Anna Laudel.

Sarp Kerem Yavuz: The Last Orientalist” is on view at Anna Laudel through July 2, 2021.


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