Perhaps the decreasing confidence in the art market can be salvaged—at least Sotheby’s clearly hopes so. In a decision which has many people buzzing, the auction house has introduced a new sales category: Contemporary Turkish Art. This new category was tested in an inaugural sale today at Sotheby’s in London. Seventy-three works by fifty-three artists make up a catalog which was expected to see more than one million pounds in sales. The lots are composed of photographs, paintings, sculptures, and works on paper which together hope to override the slump of the current market. The Turkish sale will no doubt prove to be a litmus test for the current contemporary market. Depending on tomorrow’s results, it may be clear to see if there is enough confidence in contemporary art sales to justify the introduction of a new sales category. The sale may also test the strengths of Middle Eastern buyers and the myth of their dominance in the auction rooms of the recession. Many auction houses are combining sales categories, not creating new ones, so another question may be “Why Turkish art?” What are the strengths of contemporary Turkish art that would call for a major experiment like this? After attending a preview of the sale yesterday, I can say that a few of these artists are true pioneers, and a good number of intensely original works were up for sale in the auction today. I was moved by Bulent Sangar’s untitled silkscreen, a large image printed on two canvases in black and white depicting a man lying peacefully in a ditch, recalling traditional Ophelia imagery. If Ophelia, the feminine, is submerged in water, then perhaps Hamlet, the masculine, is devoured by the land. It’s a moving, large-scale work which invites its viewer to participate in the active dialogue of what is a hazy and mysterious image. Ahmet Oran’s untitled large-scale canvas is an active experiment in the physical abilities of paint. He makes his medium speak in a way that recalls the work of Rothko or Pollock. His canvas gives the paint both a personality and the sole responsibility for invoking something in its imagery. Taner Ceylan’s painting “Spiritual,” (the catalog cover image for the sale) is an incredible achievement in figurative art. He paints a boxer near the boiling point of the fight’s action, blood bubbling from his mouth, the hairs sticking up on the back of his neck. Ceylan meets the challenges of painting photorealistically by surpassing even the abilities of photography. And lastly, my favorite work is perhaps Semiha Berksoy’s painting/ collage “My Mother and Me.” It’s a simple and sweet picture, both figures on a flat ground looking straight ahead at their viewer, their heads poking curiously out of the confines of the canvas. The sentiment and layout recalls Arshille Gorky’s portrait with his mother, painted from a photograph years after it was taken. Berksoy’s picture has the same sweetness one seldom finds outside of an old, treasured family photograph.