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Öktem Aykut Art Gallery: Doğa Öktem & Tankut Aykut

In the 6th episode of Bil’s Talk, we visited Doğa Öktem & Tankut Aykut, the founders of Öktem Aykut gallery. We talked about their private life and their future plans…

In the 6th episode of Bil’s Talk, we visited Doğa Öktem & Tankut Aykut, the founders of Öktem Aykut gallery. We talked about their private life and their future plans…

Photos: Elif Kahveci (@elifkahveci)


1) Tankut Doğa Hello! Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself? Who are you, where did you study, and what are your future plans?

Doğa: I came to Istanbul from Izmir in 2004. I studied Industrial Product Design at ITU. I knew I wanted a life revolving around art but it was not very clear in which field I wanted to specialize. Today I own an art gallery, although it may seem unreal to me it makes me also very proud and fulfilled (he laughed).

Tankut: I studied Computers and Cultural Studies at Sabancı University then had my MA degree at Jacobs University Bremen. I also wanted a life intertwined with art, active in Istanbul and at home, and definitely independent; For this reason, I have decided to open an art gallery. We have been managing Öktem Aykut together with Doğa for 8 years. We are a team of four representing approximately 25 artists. And we attend at least five international fairs a year.

2) We know that you work at your gallery in Şişhane, but where do you live and what do you spend most of your time doing these days?

Tankut: I live in Teşvikiye. I discovered an app called Pocket Paint, and nowadays I mostly make small drawings with it on my mobile phone.

Doğa: I live in Cihangir. I usually spend my time watching sports, reading articles about art and hanging out with my friends.

3) How did you guys meet? Where did the idea of opening an art gallery come from? Can you tell us about your first exhibition?

Doğa: I worked at Dirimart between 2010 and 2014 for 3 years. And I had the chance to work there with Tankut for about 9 months. Tankut opened his own gallery at the beginning of 2014, that summer we decided to become partners so I joined him. We consider our first exhibition together to be the Bora Başkan exhibition in November 2014.

4) How do you choose the artists you represent or exhibit at Öktem & Aykut Gallery?

Tankut: We bring together artists who work in different area, share different point of view and engage with different communities. Our goal is to put forward their work and reveal their unique perception by uniting them under Öktem Aykut’s roof.

5) Currently Renee Levi has 2 exhibitions happening simultaneously in your gallery in Akaretler. We also saw you at the 17th CI Fair. You are a gallery that actively participates in international fairs. In which fairs and venue collaborations will we be able to see the works of Öktem & Aykut artists in the near future?

Doğa: We have a busy autumn schedule. We will participate in 3 international fairs in November. Artissima, Abu Dhabi and Art Cologne in Turin, respectively. Burhan Kum at the gallery on November 11th ; we will open Selim Birsel’s solo exhibitions at Ark Kültür on the 10th of December.

6) What are your thoughts on Bil’s and the products? How do you find the Oslo shirt jacket you wore today? Where do you plan to wear it?

Tankut: I love my Oslo shirt jacket. Next week I am visiting a friend’s exhibition in Geneva then I am going to Lyon for the biennial. I will be staying also in Paris for five days to stroll around the city. This will be a perfect occasion to bring my Oslo shirt jacket with me!

7) Last but not least, can you recommend us a book and a song or album you like to listen to or read?

Tankut: In August I read Isaac Bashevis Singer stories in one fell swoop, YKY published his short stories in three volumes I was surprised and kind of angry at myself for not knowing him before. Just as I was about to start reading his novel ‘Meshugah’, Istanbul’s busy art calendar turned our daily rhythm upside down. I can’t wait to find some quiet time and read ‘Meshugah’. Kaan Tangöze’s magnificent ‘Aşık Mahzuni’ renditions and Eric Clapton’s The ‘Lady In The Balcony’ are the albums I’ve listened the most this year. And finally, for several years I’ve been streaming Jakob Bro and Palle Mikkelborg’s Jazz Baltica concert on Youtube when I couldn’t decide what to watch or listen.

Doğa: Before Renee exhibitions, I’ve read Kundera’s book ‘Slowness’, written in the 90s, and I really liked it. It’s between an essay and a novel that conveys thoughts on intellectual issues in a fictional way. Tonight we’re going to the Morrissey concert and I am pretty excited. On this occasion, let me recommend The Smiths’ first album, it is one of the records I listen to the most. I love the fact that the first song of their debut album in their early 20s was ‘Reel Around the Fountain’ sounds weird and amazing.

Öktem Aykut: @oktemaykut

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