Jose Sancho Exhibition: a tale of art and friendship

Last week I shared with you my role as the Costa Rica Honorary Consulate and whether ‘I’d stay or go’ and stressed that I won’t ever cut ties with this country that has blended well with the ‘Pura Vida’ culture. This week, this enthusiastic, peaceful and positive culture was represented by one of its most important artists, Jose Sancho, who came and met with our country’s art lovers, which I’d like to share with you.

They always ask me how I became the Costa Rica Honorary Consulate. And I always answer in the same way as per below, which is also found in my blog piece that I wrote about this earlier in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section, question 10.

“I have no information or connection about Costa Rica. Becoming the Honorary Consulate was purely by coincidence. I can say it happened on behalf of my father. My Costa Rican adventure started while my father was in Houston for treatment for his cancer and the chance meeting with a high level Costa Rican bureaucrat and her visit to us later in Istanbul. After meeting her, she started introducing me to her close network of friends. Afterwards, not completely comprehending it, this lady turned out to be the head consultant for the Costa Rican President and invited me to their country. And I had thought that during one of my visits to America, that I’d visit Costa Rica for 2-3 days purely out of curiosity.

I followed this thought and the first night I visited Costa Rica, I was invited to the Presidents house for an event. That night when the President said to me “we need someone to actively represent us in Turkey, would you be that person for us?”, I replied “It would be an honour for me” and I accepted his offer. On top of that, an important Latin American and someone who fought the guerrillas of Central America, who was then awarded a Nobel Peace a prize, President Oscar Arias consulted with our then Prime Minister, Abdullah Gul to get the process started”.


An exhibition idea was born

As I stated above, the head consultant for the old President, Oscar Arias is Ana Maria Herrera. When she introduced me to Oscar Arias on my first visit, she also introduced me to Jose Sancho. It was 10 years ago, the year was 2007. During our conversation, Ana Maria said “Serhan I will introduce you to an important Costa Rican artist”. And I said that I would be glad. Two days later, we went to Jose Sancho’s home as a family. I am saying as a family because with her was her Swedish partner and their daughter. When we went to Jose Sancho’s city of San Jose, to a neighbouring city Escazu, I was in awe of the house that was found in a forest area. His studio, which hosts pleasant conversations, was blended with nature, which also displays his work of art. That night we had a nice meal at his home. Jose Sancho is a person who gives out calm and positive energy. He actually has an introvert personality but if he becomes fond of you, he opens up his heart and feeds you his knowledge and experience.

That first night we met, Ana Herrera and her family, Jose Sancho and I had a very entertaining evening with conversation. At that time, I wasn’t speaking Spanish. Jose Sancho could actually understand and speak English and would speak a little English, but would prefer not to. With translation, I told him this: “I can feel the Pura Vida culture in your studio, which gave me a lot of good feeling. I wish the same positivity for my country. I’d like to bring someone like you to our country. How about an exhibition in Turkey?” And he said, with his eyes glowing “It would be fantastic, I’d love to come to Turkey”. Later on he showed me the pieces he made from Afyon marble. After an unforgettable night, I bought the below piece. This piece has been placed in my lounge room in my home for almost 10 years:


At that time, the psychology of me buying a pregnant woman figure is to be argued :) the thing that got me the most was the lines on the statue


Trials at Istanbul Modern

A year after, in 2008 when we went to Costa Rica again, this time Jose Sancho, Ana Maria Herrera and her family altogether went to, which I believe is Costa Rica’s most amazing place being Guanacaste, a bronze cove which has the hotel Punta Islita, which we flew to. He was happy that I had started to learn Spanish. After 2008, all he did was speak Spanish to me. Afterwards, from time to time when I visited Costa Rica, I visited him. I used to remember every word and then the words “hopefully see you in Turkey one day”.

2.5 years later, I received an email from Ana Maria “Surprise, Jose Sancho and his family are coming to Turkey. Would you be of help?” and I said “Of course, of much delight”.

Jose Sancho and his family came. When I mean his family, it was his daughter, son, daughter-in law and grandchild. As I had planned previously, I got an appointment from Pera Museum and Istanbul Modern. First, we went to Istanbul Modern with Jose Sancho and his family. As I was already a supporter of Istanbul Modern and had previously organised a film exhibition of Costa Rica’s producer Hilda Hidalgo ‘Del Amor y Otros Demonios’, I was easily able to get an appointment. After a really good conversation with them, he asked “what can we possibly do together?” and the atmosphere suddenly changed. I insisted that Turkey needed the ‘Pura Vida’ culture and that Latin Americans most important artist Jose Sancho could hold an exhibition, which would help these cultures build a bridge between them. With some negative feedback, they said “actually this is not our style”. And not holding back, I asked “what is your style?”. I didn’t receive a satisfying answer. What they said sounded ridiculous. I didn’t want to go further, so I ended the conversation.

Truth be told, as in every sector and industry in Turkey, people who are labelled as curators are at the forefront. They can act subjectively. Anyway, it’s not important.


Pera Museum and the Ozalp Birol difference

I believe it was time to give Pera Museum a go, as it was another alternative for us. I already knew the General Manager of Pera Museum, Mr Ozalp, so I got an appointment and visited him with Jose Sancho and his family.

Mr Ozalp greeted us with much knowledge, as always. After a great viewing of the museum, he said they would come back to us. The negotiations continued. The required information was exchanged. In a couple of months, we got a positive answer.


Pera Museum


After this positive response, we were preparing full pace ahead. After an analysis period, Begum Akkoyunlu of the Pera Museum, visited Costa Rica. She visited Jose Sancho at his place and they formed the concept and details together. They gave the exhibition its name ‘Erotik Doga’ (Erotic Nature).

In terms of logistics, instead of spending time looking for a sponsor, we used our firms renewable energy company EkoRE. As this is a company that deals with climate change and renewable energy being the biggest fight against it, it seemed appropriate for EkoRE to sponsor this event, as their mission is also related with nature. EkoRE organised for the transportation of all the pieces of art by using Bergen Nakliye, who are experts in this field. They completed the move without any issues.

The positive energy from the very beginning continued to increase. A communication plan was made. All the written and digital materials were ready for the press and bulletins.

Here is the prepared exhibition catalogue and the contents of the inside:






Jose Sancho’s biography

“Costa Rica’s most important artist being Jose Sancho, has used a wide theme for his pieces, one being nature as his main focal point. Creating works of art of pure conceptual tone, on a local and global level, and a dialogue formed between particular and universal grounds are examples of his work.

Inspired by artists like Picasso and Brancusi, he focuses less on abstract design and more on imagery originating from nature and places of nature as his constant focus. Most of his pieces flourish from their roots and remind us of the universe and the connection us as individuals have with the universe.

He has been effected from the soils he was born on, Hispanic and Colombia, and therefore has presented this effect by other means of mastery, by using tools and materials like: wood, granite, marble, bronze, steal plaques and antique objects, and also animal formations along with the uncountable amounts of women used in this theme, which are created.

Jose Sancho was born in Costa Rica, in Puntaneras on 12th April, 1935. He graduated from Costa Rica university from the Faculty of Economics and Administration. From 1962, he took many positions in Central America, Europe and the USA in the economy and community management sectors and his art and sculpture interests made way for a professional interest in the 1970s. In 1974, he chose sculpturing and formed an amazing bond with it. In order to develop his techniques, he worked in many studios in Italy, Romania, Mexico, Argentina and Spain. He presented his works of art in America, Europe and Middle East and won many awards. His monumental sculptures in Costa Rica were exhibited in public areas, and in his studio in Escazu, where he also lives, and is also creating an unstoppable amount of work”.


Trialling ‘Erotik Doga’ on the 6th of August

A night before the exhibition being the 24th of May, I took Jose Sancho and his family and all the others to dinner. Ninoska and her husband Ercan, whom I work with at the consulate, also joined us. As a total of 15 people, we had a very comforting and enjoyable dinner at Duble Meze. We talked about the past. We shared our thoughts about the big day, which was the next day. We ended the night on a good note.


A photo taken from our dinner. The Costa Ricans and us, as the hosts, are all in good spirits


The grand opening day had come. At 9.30am in the morning, after enjoying the treats from the Pera Café, we moved into the Pera Museum Auditorium at 10am, when the press conference for the exhibition started.


A photo taken from the morning cafe gathering


First, I spoke and afterwards Mr Ozalp invited the Costa rican ambassador stand to make a short speech. Then in order, Jose Sancho, Jose Sancho's foundation General Manager, Leonardo Sancho, curator Maria Enriqueta Guardia Yglesias and other exhibition curators (Ciftdusun: Ciftgoru Exhibition) made a speech.


A photo taken from the press conference at the grand opening


I’d also like to share the speeches both Jose Sancho’s foundation General Manager, Leonardo Sancho and I made:

After the speeches, we walked around the exhibition till 12pm. And at night, the opening for guests to visit started from 6.30pm onwards. The exhibition was toured by many guests. At 8.30pm that night, we organised a dinner at Divan Brasserie in Istiklal Street for all the people who put their efforts into this exhibition.

The next day at 6.30pm, Jose Sancho, his art consultant and curator, Maria Enriqueta Guardia Yglesias made detailed speeches. Beyond his art, Jose Sancho gave a good outlook for Latin American art. The event which went on till 7.30pm had participants from university, who were students and faculty managers from Arts Faculty’s.

After this event, everyone farewelled each other and said their goodbyes. The professionals at Pera Museum, who also internalised this event, also bid farewell to Jose Sancho, which made me so happy.

I also want to note that the Pera Museum’s General Manager, Mr Ozalp Birol had clearly reflected his character, knowledge and experience onto his staff. In order to work in a co-operative way, we worked positively together to enable this. All of them were very professional and worked well for such an effortless project.

With this opportunity, I’d like to thank from the bottom of my heart, firstly Mr Ozalp Birol, Begum Akkoyunlu, Tania Bahar, Fatma Colakoglu, Busra Mutlu, Irmak Wober and Zeynep Ogel and the names of those at the Pera Museum I haven’t already mentioned here.

I’d also like to share with you some photos from the well prepared exhibition.

The works of art:







A photo we took altogether


If you’d like to visit the exhibition, which opened on the 25th of May, you have until the 6th of August. There has been a lot of positive reflections about this exhibition in the press. The weekend before the exhibition, there was also a full page of the exhibition to take place in Turkey in the Costa Rican ‘La Nacion’ newspaper. I’d like to share some of these reflections from our country:

Pera Museum


Hurriyet Daily News:



İstanbul Art News:

If you’d like inspiration, I'd recommend you to visit the exhibition.

Pura Vida!


A memorable photo we took with Jose Sancho from the exhibition




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