Butterfly Effect is a retrospective analysis of the oeuvre of Kadri Özayten. Spanning from the 1970s to the beginning of 2000, and exemplary presenting drawings, prints, paintings, as well as collages and videos, the exhibition gives an insight into the work of a remarkable artist who knew how to relate art to politics through a brilliant balancing of aesthetic and intellectual matters.

The show at Milli Reasürans as well as the accompanying catalogue are structured according to a chronological order. Starting in the early 1970s, Kadri Özayten’s work is characterized by paintings and prints that are mainly based on his own biography. Here, emotionally driven figurative pieces reflect on his personal life. Also during this time, the artist’s interest in Anatolian iconography can be recognized through the combination of traditional motives with modern aesthetics. Later, the works of the 1980s are characterized by personal traumata caused by socio-political incidents. Here, besides a rather dark range of colors, nameless blindfolded figures often appear in vast and anonymous landscapes. Özayten’s notion of composition and the painterly treatment of his protagonists aim towards simplification, minimalization and abstraction. This phase can also be understood as an interstation between the early pieces and the later, often interdisciplinary works of the 1990s, in which the artist directly reacts to the wars of the Balkan and the Gulf Area as well as to social and political national conflicts. It is also this time, when Kadri Özayten besides his paintings focuses on collages, time- and site-specific installations as well as on pieces that were influenced by Fluxus and its process-oriented production methods. Also experiments with non-objective art and video art can be found during this period. The 1990s mean also the phase, where the main symbols of Özayten’s oeuvre appear: Butterflies, pebble stones, paper airplanes and camouflage textures became then his personal icons of hope and anti-war. Indeed, in this highly tensed period, when wars and crisis are shaking the world around him, a strong socio-political interest and sincere humanist engagement becomes the main forces that propels his work. After 2000, the artist again shifts his focus onto painting, and creates an important series of large pieces, in which he summarizes the artistic efforts of 40 years of intensive research and hard work.

For my curatorial research, besides doing an extensive archival investigation, I also spoke with many artists and colleagues who knew Kadri Özayten. All exposed three characteristics about him: Besides being a very kind man, and a very good teacher at the academy, Özayten was an intelligent and hard-working artist who was open to innovation and knew the importance of research. His critical yet humanist attitude towards life and art, compared with a constant curiosity and love of experimentation give his oeuvre an extraordinary importance in the history of contemporary art in Turkey.

Marcus Graf

“Art is a need, a way of understanding the world by the humans and how they transcend themselves, contribute to the making of a more meaningful context. That humans can relate to the world, their wish to become whole does not develop only through mind or reason but also through emotions and intuition.”*

Kadri Özayten influenced a generation of artists raised in the 1990s and still active in their artistic practices today not only with his identity as an artist but also as an innovative academic; he introduced them to contemporary art practices, and encouraged them toward postmodern thinking, producing in contemporary, conceptual and critical practices. Kadri Özayten, who preferred to produce modestly by staying away from a ‘careerist’ attitude in his individual artistic practice, continued his illuminating support to his students not only during his academic years but also for the rest of his life. As Kadri Ozayten frequently reiterated to his students that “the artist is, in the most general terms, a witness of his era”. The contemporary artist, on the other hand, is and have to be in a political and social consciousness that is much more advanced than in the past. However, in today’s ‘now’ how free is human, how brave is art? The souls of the butterflies, free but died ahead of their time, in Kadri Ozayten’s paintings are still flying knowing that those who come after them will also have fleeting freedom... Because life is short and art long.

Derya Yücel

*Kadri Özayten, from the seminar notes prepared for the students of MÜGSF Painting Department, 1996




Yayınlayan Millî Reasürans T.A.Ş

1.Baskı, 1000 adet

ISBN 978-605-2391-11-2

Organizasyon Millî Reasürans Sanat Galerisi

Küratör Marcus Graf

Yardımcı Küratör Melike Bayık

Asistan Küratör Öykü Demirci, Beyza Demircioğlu

Metin Derya Yücel

Röportaj Evrim Altuğ

Çeviri Ezgi Ceren Kayırıcı

Fotoğraf Studio Majo / Engin Gerçek

Grafik Tasarım Timuçin Unan + Crew

Baskı Öncesi ve Baskı Mas Mataacılık San. Ve Tic. A.Ş.


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