Gencay Kasapçı

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Born in Ankara in 1933, Gencay Kasapçi first approached the art world at the tender age of three when, during classes, she would pose as a model for the art teacher.

In 1947, during her last year of high school, one of her paintings was selected among the first twenty to be displayed at the national exhibition of the Ankara Faculty of Letters, winning her a full scholarship for seven years at the University of Gazi. She was however forced to decline because of her father’s disagreement; she enrolled at the Istanbul women’s institute, which she concluded in 1950, and then matriculated at the Academy of Fine Arts. Here she graduated with honors in 1954 and then settled in Ankara, where in 1957 she inaugurated her first individual exhibition. In this period she also followed classical archeology lectures held by prof. Ekrem Akurgal.

In 1959 she went to Florence on a scholarship awarded by the Italian Government to study frescos and mosaic art with Prof. Collacichi . The following year she moved to Rome where she established her first studio and, for a short while, she illustrated books and periodicals for publishing houses such as Mondadori and Vallechi, designing the cover for “Barca Di Noè”, a book by Gianna Manzini published by Mondadori.

Meanwhile, she started to attend the studio of Japanese Artist Nobuya Abe together with Serbian artists Mira Brtka and Milena Cubrakovic. The studio shortly became a meeting point for collectors and contemporary artists, a moment that marked a real transition in Gencay’s artworks. She held her first solo exhibition outside Turkey at Fondazione Ernesto Besso in Rome. She was then invited to take part in various art competitions in Rome, Avezzano and Gubbio, and was one of the participants displaying at Galleria Rotta in Genova. In 1961 she participated at the Premio Gubbio international competition, placing second in the Painting section and first in the Design section. She was later invited to Premio Europa in Ascona.

In 1962 she met Carlo Cardazzo in Venice and held a solo exhibition at the Galleria del Cavallino. Her works were also displayed in Milan, side by side with the paintings of Abe, Colombo, Mondrian, Picasso, Twombly and Fontana, and, always in Milan, she was invited to take part in the Mostra dei Contrasti at the Galleria Cadario.

In 1963 she showcased in a solo exhibition at the Gallery La Salita of Liverani and she joined the group of Rotella, Dorazio, Consagra, Conte, Pommodoro, Castellani and Fontana. The following year she participated in “Seconda Mostra Mercato Nazionale d’Arte Contemporanea” at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence.

Between 1964 and 1965 her works, along with those made by other fellow countrymen, were selected to be exhibited at the “IV-V Rassegna d’Arte Figurative Roma e del Lazio” organized at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni. During the same period she was invited, as a Turkish Artist, to take part in a congress in Rimini, the “Convegno Internazionale di Artisti, Critici e Studiosi d’Arte”. Furthermore, she was among the 33 artists invited by Italy at the “Deuxième Festival des Arts Plastiques de la Côte d’azur” along with Abe, Carla Accardi, Pietro Consagra, Novelli and Dorazio. She then opened an exhibition at the Scorpio Gallery in Rome together with artists Brtka and Franchini.

In 1966 her works were displayed, along with those by Abe, Fontana, Uecker, Burri, Afro, Arp, Kandinsky, Chagall and Braque, at the gallery Il Segno in Rome, and she was also invited to take part in the international exhibition “Zero Avantgarde” at the Lucio Fontana Atelier. In the same year she moved back to Turkey, and had to cut off all her international links due to the Country’s internal economic and political conditions. It is here that she married Abdullah Kasapçı.

Between 1963 and 1968 she dedicated herself to the creation of artpieces produced with ceramics and mosaics on large walls  for the Faculty of Architecture at the Middle East Technical University and the Kızılay Branches of Ziraat Bank and Şekerbank in Ankara. She also made some artworks for the Etap Marmara and Divan Hotels in Istanbul and for the İş Bank Headquarters in Ankara, utilizing Nazar beads she herself produced by collaborating with local furnaces. Unfortunately, except for the one at the aforementioned Department of Architecture, all these other artworks were lost, sometimes due to the renovation of the buildings like the table produced for the Divan Hotel. Gencay Kasapçı later became the consultant and director at the Vakko Art Gallery in Ankara, where she helped many young talents to emerge.

In 1983 she founded the Mi-Ge art gallery, always in Ankara. The years 1994-1995 saw her monumental works ‘Liberty’ and ‘Orange Tree’ come to light, and successively, she worked as an art consultant in the “Replica Art Gallery” in Istanbul, a collaboration that lasted until the year 2000.

Gencay is the first artist that used Nazar glass beads in her artistic productions: the table she produced using these “evil eye” beads in 1958 was purchased by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to be displayed at the Turkish Stand in the Brussels Expo. Today Gencay’s works figure on the postcards of UNICEF, TEMA and TAP.

Between 1995 and 2010 Gencay held over 30 personal exhibitions on Turkish territory and was invited to showcase in the United States on multiple occasions. She continued her activity in her atelier until 2017, when she passed away in her husband’s hometown, Mersin.