Balkan Naci İslimyeli was born in Adapazarı in 1947. In 1967, he entered the Painting department of the State School of Applied and Fine Art. He graduated from the same school in 1972. In 1975-1977, he studied lithography in Salzburg with an Austrian Government scholarship and submitted his thesis “Structure as an element of expression in the visual arts”. He received Italian Government Scholarship and studied in the Painting department of the Florence Academy of Fine Arts in 1980-82. He received his doctorate in 1983. He became an associate professor at the academy in 1986. In 1989-1990, he went to New York to wok on the subject of contemporary art at New York University upon the invitation of that institution’s Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies. He won a Fulbright scholarship and continued his work at the NYU school of Fine Arts. In 1995, he worked at Hartford Trinity College as a guest artist in the United States upon the invitation of that school. He became a full professor in 1996. In 1996-2003, he engaged in brief periods of work upon invitations received from other countries. Prof. Balkan Naci İslimyeli has prepared five art books: “Suç”, “Söz”, “Suret”, “Déja vu”, “Matah”. His poems and short stories have been published in magazines such as Dost, Oluşum, Yazı, Gösteri, Argos and Kitaplık. He also has worked as a cinema art director. He has served as a consultant on a number of culture oriented television shows. He has had many exhibitions not only in Turkey but also in abroad. He has taught at Bilgi University.
Using such diverse media as photography, text, painting, found object sculpture, installations and performance, Balkan Naci İslimyeli explores fundamental issues such as gender, folk customs, memory, communication, and personal and cultural identity in Turkey. Since the late 1970s, his interest in cinema has led him to explore issues of simultaneity, editing and the dynamic organization of space. İslimyeli often incorporates his own portrait or handwriting into his work, two aspects of individual identity that represent the human condition on a broader scale. As the artist explores his own position between past and present, East and West, he also enables his viewers to consider their own positions in the complex cultural web represented by modern Turkey and its place in the contemporary world.
(Reference: Modern Experiences 2007-2008 Permanent Exhibition, Istanbul: Istanbul Modern, 2007, p.324-331)