The Cultural Awareness Foundation (CAF) carried out the project for the restoration of the artist Kuzgun Acar’s (1928-1976) work “Abstract Composition” (Birds) which he had created and had it installed at the Istanbul Manifaturacılar Bazaar (İMÇ) forty years ago. 

In 2008 CAF had completed its project for cleaning the works of art at İMÇ which were created during the Republican period of Türkiye. The project was implemented by CAF volunteers with the support of Yapı Kredi Tangram Team and Private Sector Volunteers Association. At that time it was only Kuzgun Acar’s Abstract Composition (Birds) which could not be cleaned.     

In 2013 we resumed the work left unfinished and started seeking a source for funding and a a-specialised restorator to achieve what we aspired. First, we set up a Scientific and Advisory Board comprising art historians, restorators and sculptors, while at the same time we were obtaining expert views from academics specialised in this field from the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University and the Istanbul University. Financial support came from our CAF friends Op. Dr. Oya Bayrı and the artist Canan Bozbağ, followed by the contribution of Faruk Pekin, the Honorary President of CAF and close friend of Kuzgun Acar. Therequired funding was thus raised, and with the support of the İMÇ Management and the Fatih Municipality the sculpture was dismounted from the wall, to be transported to a workshop at Mecidiyeköy.

Following a process of researches, inquiries and reporting we entrusted the Abstract Composition to Assoc. Prof. Özer Aktimur, a lecturer at the Restoration Department of the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University (MSFAU). However, a detailed examination revealed that the sculpture had sustained a damage far greater than anticipated due to exposure to adverse effects of open air for nearly 40 years. Pieces of material falling apart when touched, old layers of paint, intertwined bird nests, waste materials, pieces of yarn and the like inevitably resulted in the development of a new restoration and conservation scheme by our Advisory Board and Assoc. Prof. Aktimur. 

A period of arduous work carried out day and night, and series of meetings one after another, throughout which a deep emotional bond was built, gave rise to delays in the original time scheme planned, and the need to employ different techniques, all of which generated rumours that the art work was “stolen”, or “destructed”. At long last, after one and a half year the restoration and conservation process was successfully completed and Kuzgun Acar’s masterpiece regained its original powerful, magnificent image.   

Now it was time to present this great work of art and the meticulous work done to the public. CAF executives and the managers of several reputable museums of Istanbul held meetings and decided to bring Kuzgun Acar’s masterpiece together with art lovers before its reinstallation at İMC, in order to enable the viewers to get closer to the sculpture and see the magic done by the artist’s fingers, as well as to raise public awareness of the importance of great artworks’ existence in public areas. The final major support came from Sakıp Sabancı Museum for this inspiring project, and on June 24, 2016 Kuzgun Acar’s Abstract Composition was opened up to public view in the Museum garden, accompanied by a panel discussion and a spectacular ceremony.    

The panel discussion which attracted great public attention was moderated by Nazan Ölçer with such significant speakers as Prof. Dr. Doğan Tekeli, one of the architects of the İMÇ; Faruk Pekin, our Honourary President and close friend of Kuzgun Acar; Assoc. Prof. Özer Aktimur who conducted the restoration and conservation work; and Metin Deniz, a close friend of Kuzgun Acar and an art director.  

The sculpture which was exhibited in the Museum’s garden between June-October 2016, before its reinstallation at İMÇ, the place where it belonged to, inspired the staging of a mask play created by artists coming together at the invitation by Emre Koyuncuoğlu, Sibel Horada and Yasemin Nur. The play “Punta Atmak” (Welding Up) was a creation derived from the street movements which Kuzgun Acar was part of in the 1970s and collective production practices specific to that period. The play was staged at the Museum garden with a magnificent view of the Bosphorus for three nights on October 13, 14, and 15, 2016.

Following its exhibition at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum’s garden for nearly five months, on November 20, 2016 the sculpture was taken to İMÇ and mounted on its original place, Block 1 wall, thanks to the work done with great care by the expert Simurg team and Fatih Municipality’s logistics support. This last move restored this masterpeace to its rightfully deserved place in the memory of Istanbulites.  

To share with the public the successive stages of this significant restoration and conservation project, we set up the web site www.kuzgununkuslari.com.