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Galeri MCRD participates in Contemporary Istanbul's 15th Edition (A1-407) with a presentation of sculptures by Yücel Kale, paintings by Yasemin Cengiz Cagatay and a film poster by the young film maker Alp Cagatay. The gallery’s presentation features a number of new works, on view for the first time at CI'21, with a strong emphasis on surrealism. Created especially for the fair, new work by YC Cagatay continues her spirited enquiry into the potential of surrealist vistas, pivoting between spontaneity, improvisation and reflection. Shaped from semi-precious gems such agate, along with carved wood and glass, Yücel Kale’s sculptures present us with symbolic figures from the past, from myth and fiction. 

Contemporary Istanbul

15th Edition


Istanbul Lütfi Kırdar International

Exhibition and Convention Center 

VIP Preview

June 1-2 , 2021

Public Days

June 3-6, 2021

About the Artists

Gallery co-founder Yasemin Cengiz Cagatay reflects on  the themes and motifs of Yücel Kale's and her own work, and the context in which they were made: A personal selection, made by the young artist Alp Cagatay, this presentation brings together futuristic, colorful works with a focus on surrealism. All three artists' work gestures towards the incalculable process of art, which is  beginning with, ‘a very intuitive dance in the dark of brushes and colors', and is a poetic meditation on the life.They invite us to journey across terrain in which  the utopian leads the way.


Most of the time  aiming for a sense of the sublime, YC Cagatay also seeks to create a reflection of her individual psyche. Valuing spontaneity and improvisation, in these series the artist employs  color emotionally and the paintings evoke the artists' enduring fascination with color as a reminder of the mystery of perception itself, exploring the aesthetic possibilities of color and space and their relations.Oscillating between abstraction and figuration, geometry and free form, the artist's compositions are intricate, dense, multi-colored, and literally full of layers — of colors, paints and meanings.  On the constant verge between figuration and abstraction, Cagatay’s multilayered works saturated with an array of references on a scale from Baroque to Vrubel to Delaunay's , feature delicate and visually immersive compositions. Her swaths of vibrant color hug the picture plane with energy and her use of highly intense color corresponds to her own exuberant nature. Approaching painting as an experience in immersive subjectivity, she uses stylizing gesture as a propulsive mark.

The dynamics of her compositions include dramatic movements and dancing rhythms, overflowing structures. In doing so, she continually reshapes, differentiates and reinterprets her individual visual language.  Jazz music found congenial artistic expression in her early paintings. Swept along from one note to the next by the frantic  pace and rhythm of free improvisation, accelerating into frenetic sequences of notes, modern jazz is similar to her working style in its pace and putting improvisation first. Influenced also by the Surrealists, her works feature organic forms with vibrant color accents. YC Cagatay is interested in powerful images that strike chords embedded deep in the reservoirs of our unconscious. Like most artists  she trusts her intuition. The unforeseeable is what turns out to be interesting: Her richly orchestrated paintings in inks and acrylics are full of very intricate details and in this,  they reflect how much intense and protracted is the ‘work’ of painting for the artist. Changing her paintings innumerable times to come up with a satisfactory composition, the artist makes and destroys her canvases so many times due to her perfectionist character.Cagatay's works explode in  patterns that appear to grow organically across her compositions.

Although not a futurologist who systematically explores predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present, YC Cagatay has a predilection for anything futuristic, unseen; and paints futuristic vistas intuitively. From the Futurist movement Cagatay took the dynamic style which captured speed and movement as if in time-lapse, she juxtaposed colors of various densities and temperatures, repeating vertical, transparent brushstrokes;she lined rolls of paper in sublime fields of vibrant color.

The paintings record Cagatay's ongoing reflections on color, density, and velocity.In these canvases, Sui Generis forms migrate from one painting to another, appearing in new layers or fusing into clusters that advance and retreat.

Teetering on the cusp of ordinary perception, Yücel Kale’s sculptures present a world where the natural and supernatural go hand in hand. Drawing his fancy into play, the artist employs  age-old symbols and fanciful myth, irrational beliefs, traditional genres like portrait, and wonder at the natural world. His women and other supernatural creatures find echoes in the fairy painting of the Victorian era British painting, his artist sensibility creating an interest in otherworldliness.His richly detailed polychrome sculptures are also characterized by their engagement with art history, from Byzantine and Ottoman colored works to French surrealistic works. By interweaving these different elements, Yücel Kale opens up a wide field of associations, from the metaphor of the goddesses symbolizing the power of  women to  humorous biomorphic  animal forms. His anthropomorphic creatures engaging play and speculation create a phantasmagoria.

Both thematically and formally, his works are a fusion of the various strands of art making. Kale chisels masses of wood to create an anecdotal narrative of his love of nature.His long-held fascination with the arboreal is still prevalent in his work today, displayed in his current tree works. The animal and plant life represents  eternal knowledge.They embody  nature's wisdom and life-force.The artist's fantastical creations such as the technicolor-surfaced, leather covered Lucky in the form of a supernatural leopard gecko are wryly ambiguous in meaning. His wood- carved,  hand painted  'Art Bags' reflect also an ambiguous materiality.They evoke hand bags but are surreal portraits. Kale makes use of conceptual constructs—including the ancient and the sublime—creating luxurious icons and elaborate works, which, beneath their captivating exteriors, engage the viewer in a metaphysical dialogue with cultural history.

The artist works hard to revivify the discipline of sculpture he reveres. The sheer pleasure he takes from the physical and mental rhythm of carving is evidenced in the quality of his draftsmanship. He carves wood, stone, gemstones and the glass.Kale shares the older artists' commitment to manual skill, since he thinks the human hand is still infinitely more complex than any multi axis CNC machine; and his mastery of the craft allows him to be spontaneous. His hand-carved work has sleek forms and clean lines, subtle color and graceful curves.

Yücel Kale is an Istanbul based established artist,  who began his artistic career two decades ago studying sculpture at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts  University, Istanbul (1993-2000).Merging ancient and contemporary vocabularies is his way of art making. Being a master sculptor, Yücel Kale is not interested in the readymades.He conceives of himself in the classical sensuality of the 'alchemist' sculptor.His work is about pure emotion and imagination, suggesting a poetics of sublime. Kale makes use of conceptual constructs—including the ancient and the sublime—creating luxurious icons and elaborate works; which, beneath their captivating exteriors, engage the viewer in a metaphysical dialogue with cultural history, while his fantastic creatures teleport the viewer to the world of dreams.  In 1997 Kale had his first large-scale solo presentation with C.A.M Art Gallery. His work has been exhibited  solo or as part of group exhibitions internationally at fairs -Art New York 2017 , Aqua Art Miami 2017, SOFA Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design, New York (2008), ST-ART Strasbourg Contemporary Art Fair, France (2009), Frankfurt Book Fair, Germany (2008), Asia Pacific Leather Fair Hong Kong (2014), Contemporary Istanbul (2006,2012, 2013,2021)-; at museums, -Museum Der Arbeit in Hamburg, Germany (2009) and Santa Maria della Scala Museum, Siena, Italy (2008); at Portside Gallery in Yokohama, and at Youkobo, Japan (2004). The artist had also many solo exhibitions nationally,  at many established galleries including Galeri Apel, C.A.M. Art Gallery, Galeri Selvin, Imoga Art Space and Siyah Beyaz Art Gallery in Ankara. His works are held in private collections.



Yasemin Cengiz Cagatay began painting at a very early age in İstanbul with an art teacher mother .Surrounded with paintings and art history books, she fell in love with color. She learned painting as a child, this leading her to national art prizes - including a first prize in a nation wide art competition when she was a high school senior. She has studied from 11 to 19 years old in Lycée de Galatasaray, a major establishment having formed the politicians and artists of the country. The French influence she received in this centuries old school with a blend of French and Turkish curricula reflects in her paintings. She has  studied at Bosphorus University Business School; which curriculum included  a rich humanities program. The artist pursued a management career working as a management committee member for multinational companies, and quit to indulge in her passion for art. She gave herself a tailored, profound art education rigorously pursued in art centers - Paris, London and New York - and also studied contemporary art at the programs of IESA Paris, Sotheby’s Institute of Art London and New York. Cagatay’s yearning to wed the eternal with the coming day, and her devotion to constant questioning pushed her to paint for a long time before exhibiting her work: her preoccupation with analogue and digital painting in relation to representational iconographies spans a decade. She preferred to have her inaugural exhibition with the gallery she co-founded; and starting with All Arts Istanbul fair in 2013, she had exhibited her work both solo or in group at Galeri MCRD at Contemporary Istanbul 2014- 2019, Virtual CI'20 and in Scope New York 2020.


Turning his back to naturalism, the young filmmaker Alp Cagatay explores bold shapes and rich effects of texture and design. These communicate an intense vision of nature of psychological resonance. Being an artist who held the world of the imagination to be more important than that of observation, he did not hesitate to unleash  his imagination to come up with highly surrealistic landscapes populated with cartoon characters or, at the opposite end, the likes of the the angel of death, appearing in Destiny, a relatively naturalistic work, or Standoff a film poster. A recent graduate of New York University Tisch School of the Arts'  Film &TV  Production department (Class of 2020), the young artist Alp Cagatay aims to examine complex intersections of narrative, fact and fiction through digital painting, photography, animation, film and installation. He has graduated from Koc High School, Istanbul in 2016 and participated to the Spectacular exhibition of Galeri MCRD in 2015 and now participates in the 15th edition of Contemporary Istanbul with Galeri MCRD.

Selected Works

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Arif Alp Cagatay, Standoff, 2020 

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Yasemin Cengiz Cagatay, Paradise in Blue,2020 


Yücel Kale, Mesmerized, carved glass, 2019

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Yasemin Cengiz Cagatay, Dante's Inferno, 2021

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Yasemin Cengiz Cagatay, Paramount Dreams, 2020

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Yücel Kale, Birth, carved wood, fluorescent paint,2020

 Yücel Kale, Sealed Past, mixed technique ,2018

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Yasemin Cengiz Cagatay, Crystal Falling, 2021

Yücel Kale, Odysseus, carved agathe, 2018 

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Yasemin Cengiz Cagatay, Sunrise in Utopia, 2020

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Yücel Kale, Ultimate Decision, 2018


Yücel Kale, Chevalier, carved glass, 2020


Yasemin Cengiz Cagatay,Metamorphoses, 2021

Exhibition View

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