An artist painting in the dark

Feminist artist Canan shines a light on Turkey’s troubles through her work. Alan Philps meets her in Istanbul

The World Today Published 26 May 2016 Updated 27 November 2020 3 minute READ

Alan Philps

Former Editor, The World Today, Communications and Publishing

Turkey’s foremost feminist artist uses only her first name, Canan. She dropped her surname in protest at a law that gives her ex-husband the right to stop her using it. There is much else she has dropped: she often appears in her works naked as a challenge to Turkish society as it becomes increasingly conservative.

These are turbulent times for Turkey – a raging conflict in Syria, a rekindled civil war between Kurds and the state in the southeast, bombs going off in major cities and a huge migration crisis. At the same time the government is cracking down on dissent, with journalists and lecturers arrested regularly on terrorism charges.

So it’s probably a difficult time for an outspoken social rebel. I find the artist in the Rampa gallery, a discreet Istanbul basement next to an underground car park, which is showing her latest work.

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