Introduction to İsmail Saray’s Leonardo da Vinci

Aiming to contextualize Turkish artist İsmail Saray’s artist book Leonardo da Vinci (1976), this text centers around the artist’s educational formation and the early years of his artistic practice between the years of 1973–1980, when he was based in Turkey. Tracing key moments in this period including his participation in the Paris Biennial of 1977, the Yeni Eğilimler [New Trends in Art] exhibition of 1979 in Istanbul as well as his guest appearance in the exhibition Sanat Olarak Betik [Book as Art] organized by the conceptualist artist collective Sanat Tanım Topluluğu. This essay also gives a glimpse of the conditions under which artists were operating at the time, heavily influenced by the political developments in Turkey. The dematerialization of Saray’s practice is traced through the artist books and his production on paper, including correspondence that led to the production of his artworks by fellow artists elsewhere, a phenomenon that awaits further investigation.

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