Stepping stones

Richard Bartle

14.09 - 10.10.2022
Part of 17th Istanbul Biennial

Collect Gallery bringing three series of English artist Richard Bartle’s solo exhibition “Steppingstones”.The exhibition is consisting of  artist’s recent period work and macro and micro scale paintings, sculptures and installations, the foundations of which the artist built onto philological, historical, and cultural research going back 18 years, is combined here with his overcoming the tension arising from his encounters with İstanbul’s enchanting and astonishing urban fabric.

The artist’s works, inspired by scenes he came across while running along the man-made rocky shore in Kadıköy, tell not only the stories of his own journey and of the rocks themselves, but also those of the locals who occupy those spaces, the traces of which are found between these rocks and cracks, or through the citizens’ dissenting interventions in the form of graffiti on the surfaces of these rocks.

The main concept behind Bartle’s large-scale installations – which were inspired by his experiences living and working in İstanbul, as well as the works of miniature painters in the Ottoman and Persian imperial courts – focuses on the methods and styles on miniature artists, and the unique limitations and hierarchies within the crafts workshops of the period. The works themselves use İstanbul’s landscape and architecture as their source material, referencing the city’s fabric, street art, and folk narratives. They take the audience along for a gripping and sincere journey through the streets of İstanbul while taking in the sights along the city and the shore through various points of view.


The debris that the artist collects during his walks in the city each carry the potential to become a piece of art, the process of discovering, documenting, and ruminating about which becomes the context that constitutes each work.  Observations about İstanbul, the streets, characters, and encounters make up the focal point of the series. The artist seeks at the root of each work the historicity between the city’s layers as he strolls along the surface in an instinctual act tied to the materialism of the urban environment – setting out with his found objects, their associations, and the narrative possibilities of simulacra.

Richard Bartle

Richard Bartle is a contemporary visual artist and curator, with over 28 years of exhibitions and experience within the arts. He currently works between the UK and Istanbul. Bartle works in a variety of contemporary media including, painting, sculpture, installation, and video. His semi-autobiographical works are inspired by ideas around being immersed in a place or culture and are often informed by underlaying issues around political, social, and environmental concerns.

Bartle cites the works of many of the post-war German artists as having a significant influence over him, particularly within ideas of process and cultural appropriation. This has informed in him a theoretical and visual enquiry into the language and nature of material, in conjunction with an obsessive curiosity around media imagery and iconography. The resulting art works are an assemblage of styles, ideas, and images that engage with the issues of the world, whilst simultaneously appropriating from more aesthetic concepts within design, street art, and art itself.

Bartle works in a variety of media. His paintings are prominently made in acrylic and spray paints, which for him imitate the vibrant immediacy of graphic design and graffiti. Bartle also uses photography and collage within his work as an objectifying tool, as well as surfaces that simulate the texture of real world. His sculptures tend towards a reduced expression of reality and often take the form of maquettes or miniaturised worlds. At the core of all his work though, is an enquiry into the very nature of making and materiality, and the perfecting of the making process.

Bartle is a regular recipient of Arts Council England funding. His resume includes several museum level exhibitions, international residencies and biennials, as well as solo and group exhibitions at both commercial and artist-led galleries.

Bartle says about his life in Istanbul, “I’ve always sought to reflect something global through my practice, appropriating heavily from universal concepts and iconography, but I have never been able to shake of my own personal position in the world. In Istanbul I encountered a crossroads of ideas that spans the millennia. Here, one need only scratch at the street to find the past or look at the walls of the modern city to find the concerns of the present, here I am inspired by something deep rooted, that feeds my curiosity, something that feels immediate, shared, and visceral”