Artist Visit | Ahmet Ertuğ in Istanbul

When visiting a foreign city, having a personal connection or invitation gives dimension to the place and adds heart to the experience of it. When in Istanbul, I had the opportunity to visit the incredibly talented Ahmet Ertuğ in his studio, an experience that elevated my comprehension of the city – and beyond.


The thing that struck me about this profoundly thoughtful and passionate artist was the sense of presence and beauty in every aspect of the visit . Describing his studio merely as such doesn’t do it any justice – it’s more like a personal gallery, with his virtuosity un-self-consciously on exhibit. It was an unforgettable experience, from the moment I walked through the ornate iron gates of his villa and was greeted by the voice of Maria Callas cascading down from an invisible stage.


Everywhere I looked were objects of fascination – paintings, sculpture, tapestries, objects, mirrors, chandeliers, iconic furnishings… and of course Ertuğ’s renowned photographs and books. Textures esconced me: from soft leather to velvet, linen and crystal, handmade paper. Each object had its place and purpose – none of it competitively jarring. Instead, the configuration was a sumptuous and unpretentious installation, allowing a curious eye to be endlessly intrigued: a feather, a marble figure, a Murano chandelier, a hand-bound book, a baroque mirror.


It is no surprise that Ahmet Ertuğ was once an architect. Printed in the largest format possible for a photo in the world, his “portraits” of architectural wonders are immersive experiences. He captures the soul of an interior, while cataloging its every detail with journalistic scrutiny. Like his own space, the works are at once inviting and yet utterly dripping with stately beauty. I felt awed by the immense, iconic spaces his captured – while humored that I was standing before a photographic print that allowed me to encompass them as opposed to their overpowering my dimension.

Often in the art world now, aberrations of beauty, riffs and dares are the most prized. Here instead, the artist puts forth images documenting historically gorgeous works built by masters, and in doing so, creates a genre of its experience. While I have stood in some of the places depicted, I have never experienced them as from Ertuğ’s lens– an impossibility.


I left his studio and let myself come back to the day … and the mundane. As I closed my eyes in the taxi amidst the choatic Istanbul traffic, I could hear opera again and found myself sunken in an Italian leather sofa inside a a glimmering, wondrous world.