Baku Issue 10

Page 1

art. culture. azerbaijan.

a conde nast publication WINTER 2013/2014 ISSUE TEN

wild at heart Winter fashion takes flight

le Corbusier lives!

The battle over the great architect’s legacy


art + travel zones

Go mad. Be creative. See the world

uk/international ÂŁ5


Francesco Vezzoli Undercover Seoul Art Jewellery




Keeper of the Flame

Divine Artist

On Song


p98 p54

From Russia With Love

Wild Thing

Action Heroine

leyla aliyeva, photographed by Frederic aranda.

Editor’s letter

alking along the Boulevard, the wide, tree-lined esplanade that sweeps the length of Baku’s Caspian seafront, on a winter’s day is probably quite similar to walking along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice during the cooler months. When the sun shines it is mild enough to sit outside and drink tea, but when the clouds come scudding in from the north, you take shelter in the Old Town. Up in the mountains, just an hour or two’s drive away, it’s a different story: winters can be spectacularly wet or snowy, although they don’t last too long, thanks to our fortuitous location on the southern – sunny - side of the Caucasus mountains. You can really get a taste of the seasons in the fashion shoot for this issue, shot in Qax where streams, forests and mountains collide above Baku; I think it makes the weather look rather evocative. Full-on fun in the snow, meanwhile, is displayed in our guide to the ski resort of Shahdag, where skiers will likely be carving their way down the mountainside as you read this. A million miles away metaphorically, in the centre of Baku, we are celebrating the opening of the spectacular Port Baku complex, which includes shopping, beautiful residences and some of the world’s most high-tech offices; and, simultaneously, the coming-of-age of the iconic Flame Towers, which have gained a global image as a cutting-edge symbol of the city despite only being completed in 2013. You can read about both in this issue. Speaking of the cutting-edge, at Baku magazine we are proud of the reputation we have gained for being at the forefront of developments in art and culture, all around the world. And we have a rather special story in this issue, something of a global scoop about Le Corbusier, the greatest architect of the 20th century, and a museum that is his greatest legacy, being fought for by his dear friend and gallerist Heidi Weber, in Zurich. We also outline the VIP experience at art fairs, interview Russia’s greatest contemporary art figure Olga Sviblova, and photograph Azerbaijan’s prodigy violinist Nazrin Rashidova, among many other things. Enjoy your winter tea, on the Boulevard or wherever you are in the world, and see you in the spring, when the warm winds will usher in the Azerbaijan New Year.

Leyla Aliyeva Editor-in-Chief

11 Baku.

In the heart of London’s Mayfair, moments from Bond Street and Hyde Park, Claridge’s hotel embodies the essence of English style. BROOK STREET, MAYFAIR, LONDON W1K 4HR TEL +44 (0)20 7107 8842 RESERVATIONS@CLARIDGES.CO.UK CLARIDGES.CO.UK

Winter Issue

emil khalilov.

** ** **

His star shines bright Watch the video I love the rain Can I see your pass? An evanescent past Keeping your standards high

Contents sketches from the heart Philanthropist Andrea Dibelius is spearheading the trend for charitable foundations helping young artists.


staying on the edge Discover art in unexpected places with our pick of destinations making a mark on the cultural map.


With flying colours Fashion designer Sandra Mansour has had a meteoric rise to success. No wonder she says there’s gold at the rainbow’s end.


baku rocks International jewellers are finding inspiration in Baku’s unique mix of old and new. dark arts Influential member of the YBAs Mat Collishaw tells us why age has not lessened his ability to shock.



vips only


Wild thing


on song


keeper of the flame

The greatest architect of the 20th century, his confidante and an epic battle over Le Corbusier’s legacy.

from russia With love Russia’s restaurant king Arkady Novikov has conquered Moscow: now he’s taking over London.

blue sky thinking Restaurant designer Henry Chebaane brings his considerable talents to new developments in Baku.


baku eye

Baku’s cultural barometer of cutting-edge trends on the international art scene.

destination: shahdag Introducing Azerbaijan’s first ski resort.


the artist In the studio with Baku-based artist Rashad Mehdiyev.


history lesson Russian poet Sergei Yesenin’s travels in Azerbaijan.


culture Matthew Corbin Bishop puts his stamp on the art world.


the illustrator Leyla Aliyeva creates a winter dreamscape. maven We get snap-happy among the collectors at Frieze.


my art Model Liberty Ross reveals a penchant for photography.


the buzz The arrival of the Fairmont in Baku’s Flame Towers.


neW baku The second International Dolls Biennale.

82 142 94

exposure Photojournalist Reza Deghati’s portraits of tolerance.


54 135

factory Works A unique art exhibition held in the disused Baku Air Conditioning Plant was a breath of fresh air. From child prodigy to adult artist, Azerbaijani violinist Nazrin Rashidova chooses purity over profit.


35 122

divine artist Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli says he seeks inspiration in celebrities, churches and culture.

Metallics cut a dash as winter’s muted colour palette blends into the epic backdrop of Qax in northern Azerbaijan.

action heroine Olga Sviblova’s impressive stamina makes her the driving force behind Russia’s contemporary arts movement.



We lift the lid on the exclusive world of invite-only art fair events around the globe.



the circuit People, places and parties around the world. tabula rasa Fashion designer Kristian Aadnevik is inspired by Baku.

COVER. Photographed by miChaEl hauptman. Styled by maRy fEllOwEs. Hat by gilEs. Jumper by paul smith.

art. culture. azerbaijan. a conde nast publication WINTER 2013/2014


Leyla Aliyeva Darius Sanai Daren Ellis Maria Webster Laura Archer Caroline Davies


Simon de Pury


Mary Fellowes






Anna Blundy Michael Idov Natalie Livingstone Emin Mammadov Hervé Mikaeloff Claire Wrathall Mark Hudson Liz Leahy Andrew Lindesay Dawn Crosby Polly Anderson, Laura Cameron, Jessica Cusack, Victoria Gucci-Losio, Jasmin Hadfield, Hallie Swanson Tamilla Akhmedova Hannah Pawlby Khayyam Abdinov +994 50 286 8661; Matanet Bagieva

Albert Read Nicholas Coleridge

BAKU magazine has taken all reasonable efforts to trace the copyright owners of all works and images and obtain permissions for the works and images reproduced in this magazine. In the event that any of the untraceable copyright owners come forward after publication, BAKU magazine will endeavour to rectify the position accordingly. BAKU magazine is distributed globally by COMAG Specialist, Tavistock Works, Tavistock Road, West Drayton, Middlesex, UB7 7QX; tel +44 1895 433800. © 2013/2014 The Condé Nast Publications Ltd. BAKU magazine is published quarterly by The Condé Nast Publications Ltd, Vogue House, Hanover Square, London W1S 1JU; tel +44 20 7499 9080; fax +44 20 7493 1469. Colour origination by CLX Europe Media Solutions Ltd. Printed by Taylor Bloxham Limited, Leicester. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited. 16 Baku.

Vernissage | Wednesday, May 14, 2014 | By invitation only | |

Contributors GreG White

Photographer, father, traveller and observer. Do you escape or embrace winter? I’d miss winter if I escaped it, so therefore embrace it. First memory of snow? Feeling the uncomfortable chill when snow gets under your clothes. Where will you be in February? Who knows – hopefully not stuck in one place. Is Shakespeare overrated? No, the works of Shakespeare should not be dismissed.

hervÉ mikaeloff

michael hauPtman

Paris-based curator. Do you escape or embrace winter? I love cold and dry winter. I love the fog in the Venice Lagoon or walking in the Forbidden City in Beijing. I love to make a fire at home and read books. I think winter could be romantic. What is your first memory of snow? I have been coming to the Alps since I was a child and my parents would bring me. I was conceived in a ski resort! Where will you be in February? Chamonix. Is Shakespeare overrated? Shakespeare was, is and will never be overrated.

Snowboarder, New Yorker, photographer. Do you escape or embrace winter? I try to embrace but prefer to escape. First memory of snow? I grew up in Iowa so I was in the snow for as long as I can remember - but some of my fondest memories of snow are from when I was 12, snowboarding with my dad. Where will you be in February? Most likely NYC but I would like to be in Costa Rica. Is Shakespeare overrated? No.

avril Groom

Writer on fashion and luxuries. Do you escape or embrace winter? I embrace it when I get to go skiing. First memory of snow? Spinning plates on icy snowdrifts in the winter of 1962. Where will you be in February? At the international fashion shows – London, Paris and Milan. Is Shakespeare overrated? No – we all need educating to understand his universality.

marina GalPerina

Writer, curator, Brooklynite. Do you escape or embrace winter? I don’t escape it. I deal with it. First memory of snow? My memory is snowy. I mean, fuzzy, sorry. Where will you be in February? Berlin. Is Shakespeare overrated? What kind of question is that?

18 Baku.

Peter ter PoPham

Buddhist dhist architecture architecture nut a turned ed bi biographer. biographer Do you ou escape or embr embrace ace winter? After er y years in ttorrid climes, I love it. First memory of sno snow? Tobog Tobogganing gganin in Richmond park, aged 7. Where will y you be in February? In Burma urma a and Sri Lanka, on fascina fascinating ascina assignments. Is Shakespeare o overrated? No, h N he doth bestride the narrow wor world like a Colossus.


t a dinner during the week of the 2013 Frieze art fair in London, Austrian art collector and philanthropist Andrea Dibelius found herself talking about her charitable foundation, Emdash. At the other end of the table she noticed a young artist from Berlin listening intently and ‘becoming bright-eyed’, as Dibelius recalls when we speak on the phone, her voice alive with excitement. The artist piped up, ‘Emdash is amazing’, she said. Dibelius was surprised. Her foundation had only been associated with Frieze – sponsoring Frieze Projects and an annual award for an emerging artist – since 2010, the year the foundation was set up. It was still a new initiative and little known, or so Dibelius had thought. ‘I said, “Do you know Emdash?” and she said, “Yes, among artists it is so well known,” which I had no idea about. Among my collector friends it is not so well known… I was so surprised! This showed me that [artists] embrace it. It made me happy and,’ she pauses, ‘also a little proud.’ Dibelius has a right to be proud. Emdash has, in its short life so far, enabled young artists to create works that might otherwise have remained dreams. The foundation is named after the printer’s em dash, a long typographic dash that, as Emdash’s stated mission describes it, indicates ‘a pause to reflect and to review – before a clear statement, often taking a new direction, follows’. Her foundation, in imitation of this punctuation mark, ‘facilitates new ideas, new impulses and new thoughts’. The purpose of both the Emdash Award and Frieze Projects – a programme which funds artists working outside the UK to create a non-commercial piece of work of their choice – is to enable emerging artists to work on projects beyond the demands of the market. With an award of up to £10,000 for artist’s fee and project costs, the works can be what the artist wishes them to be, rather than catering to collectors or galleries, so ‘fulfilling their ideas and dreams’, as Dibelius says. This freedom perhaps explains why the award is so popular and the results so diverse. Dibelius, whose philanthropy is born of a personal artistic passion, loves the variety and originality of the work she has supported. Born in Saalfelden in Austria to parents who owned a string of hotels and restaurants, she went on to study law in Salzburg and then marketing in Berlin. She later became a marketing executive at DaimlerChrysler Bank, but always had an entrepreneurial streak and now, having been based in London since early 2012, invests in and consults for businesses ranging from catering to logistics. Dibelius began collecting at a relatively young age, thanks to the artist Dieter Mammel who she met in Berlin, and she now owns pieces by Jake and Dinos Chapman and Ai Weiwei, among others. Her first foray into the art world as a curator started locally. In 2008, she moved into her new home in Munich, which was on the site of the German author

20 Baku.

Portrait by anna bauEr


The right support at the start of an artist’s career can make all the difference. Collector and philanthropist Andrea Dibelius set up her Foundation to do just that – with a dash of passion, says Sophie Elmhirst.



From the Heart

21 Baku.

extra edge. The artist gets financial support and the chance to exhibit at one of the world’s leading art fairs and so also gaining the attention of collectors and galleries. In this respect, Emdash is similar to the Baloise Art Prize, given at Art Basel. Every year two young artists are awarded CHF30,000, and in addition, sponsors The Baloise Group purchase works by them to donate to two European museums. Like the Emdash Award, the presence of this prize at Art Basel gives the artists vital exposure. The concept is evidently catching on. In another award-art fair relationship, EFG Bank has recently linked up with ArtNexus magazine at Art Basel Miami Beach to launch the Latin American Acquisition Award. A shortlist of artists is drawn up from Latin American art fairs and a winner is announced at the fair. Then there is the new Asia-wide Multitude Art Prize, launched in 2013 by the Hong Kong-based charitable Previous page: Multitude Foundation. Every Andrea Dibelius at year, $100,000 is distributed to her home in Munich. five artists and the prize-giving This page: (top and and accompanying exhibition above right) visitors are held in a different Asian at Frieze London city, helping to spread the using Cécile B Evans’s word about contemporary ‘This is your Audio Asian art. The prize’s director, Guide’ (2012); (above Beijing-based artist and curator left) Pilvi Takala Colin Chinnery, explains: and ‘the committee’ ‘The prize is a platform for of schoolchildren in discussion; (right) ‘Roof meaningful dialogue and unique exhibitions, to open up Piece, Tehran’ (2011) new potential for artists and by Anahita Razmi, at audiences alike.’ Frieze London. 22 Baku.

And the winners are … 1. AnAhitA RAzmi

All these privately-supported awards reveal a trend for providing a more international platform for artists. Of course, the sponsors benefit too – their brands are associated positively with supporting the arts, and so gain profile among high net worth collectors. But for Dibelius, her motivation comes from the artist and the effect on their careers, she says. For example, Dibelius says the award acted as a ‘driver’ for Cécile B Evans, the 2012 winner. She is now working on an online art project with the Serpentine Galleries in London – ‘I can see she got something really good out of Emdash and it really helped her career’. After three years, the contract with Frieze is coming to an end, though Dibelius hopes to go on working with the fair in some capacity. In the meantime, her generosity to young artists will continue in other forms – she plans to fund children’s creative projects and to support young performance artists through a collaboration with an institution – possibly the Serpentine Galleries or the ICA in London. Again, it is the ability of Dibelius to forge links between an artist early in their career and these high-profile institutions that makes all the difference. Or as Dibelius says, humbly, ‘It is easier if somebody makes the introduction, sets it all up, and the artist can then focus on their ideas and their artwork.’ It is, surely, every artist’s dream.

The first winner in 2011 was Anahita Razmi (below), a German artist with an Iranian father. Her video of a dance work ‘Roof Piece Tehran’ was inspired by the Iranian election rooftop protests and recalls American choreographer Trisha Brown’s 1971 ‘Roof Piece’, set in New York.

2. CéCile B evAns

Evans (below) is a Belgian American artist based in Berlin and London. She won in 2012 with a holographic audio-visual guide to Frieze London. She filmed Simon Schama talking to a range of guests, such as Sophie Dahl and Patrick Moore, rather than art insiders, about the works on show.


her desire was simply to allow artists to create work that comes ‘from the bottom of the heart’. 3. Pilvi tAkAlA

Finnish artist Takala (below) was 2013’s winner. She gave most of her prize fund to children from Bow, East London to see what they would come up with. The result was a bouncy house, a huge inflatable construction designed and managed by the children.

lewis ronald, courtesy Frieze. photos polly braden, courtesy polly braden and Frieze. courtesy the artists. photo ahmet Ögüt.




Thomas Mann’s house. Not long after she invited 12 young artists to create work reflecting on Mann and his writings. She relished the experience and soon after met Amelie von Wedel, a London-based art consultant, who helped shape her idea for a personally-funded foundation to help young artists. From the start, Emdash’s brief was refreshingly broad – or as Dibelius puts it, rather more romantically, her desire was to allow artists to create work that comes ‘from the bottom of the heart’. In an intensely commercialised art market, opportunities to simply create for creating’s sake seem rare and invaluable. Emdash is, of course, not alone. Private foundations have been supporting artists for years. The Paul Hamlyn Foundation in the UK, for example, has been providing artists with financial aid since 1987. Nor is Emdash unique in supporting young and emerging artists: the annual Catlin prize recognizes 40 of the top new graduates from British art schools, and gives a shortlist of finalists the opportunity to exhibit new work (the winner receives £5,000). But it is Emdash’s link to Frieze that gives it an


hobart, tasmania

From top: Cradle MountainLake St Clair National Park in Tasmania; events at the Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival, in Launceston, Tasmania with (left) Tasmania Action Day film panel discussion and (right) the photographer Delly Carr; French DJ David Guetta in performance; MONA in Hobart. 24 Baku.

© Radius images/alamy. BoFa/tasmania. RedFeRns via getty. © PhiliP game/alamy.

Perfect for: Highbrow wilderness lovers. Don’t miss: MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. Set up by professional gambler and art patron David Walsh, the museum in Hobart is his idea of a ‘subversive adult Disneyland’. travel scene: 2014 sees the opening of Pumphouse Point, a luxury wilderness lodge on Lake St Clair, part of a Unesco World Heritage-listed National Park. Go on walkabout, but keep your five-star comforts. Local view: ‘There’s been an influx of creative young people opening cool, experimental businesses with radically good ethics,’ says Kirsha Kaechele, contemporary art curator. ‘There is endless art energy in Hobart. Find tiny artist-run initiatives alongside massive undertakings like MONA, the Mercury Building – old newspaper offices, now being transformed into restaurants and art galleries – and the new performing arts centre.’ Flash point: Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival, held in early November, offers four days of documentaries and dinners. Who goes? DJ David Guetta and JK Rowling, who has reportedly purchased a holiday home there.

© RoB CRandell/alamy; matthew miCah wRight. © JJm stoCk PhotogRaPhy/alamy. © Jon aRnold images ltd/alamy. getty.




Staying on the Edge

Some of the most exciting art is being made in the world’s farflung corners. Go. Discover. Have a ball, says Caroline Davies.


Panama City Perfect for: The want-it-all traveller. Don’t miss: The street art, particularly in Casco Viejo neighbourhood. Rainforest animals and witty cartoons, all in neon colours, are scrawled over the walls around the colonial buildings. travel scene: Panama may be small but it packs a lot in. You can travel from the Pacific to Caribbean coast in an hour, from the city to rainforest in 20 minutes and take a short boat trip from the urban centre to beautiful islands still populated by local tribes. Indigenous art has influenced Panama’s artistic heritage. The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Panama city is one of Latin America’s leading contemporary art galleries, earning plaudits for their 2013 show ‘Fotoseptiembre’. Local view: ‘Panama is a multicultural country with Latino charm and safe streets,’ says Jess Oritz, owner of Panama City store The Boutique. ‘Visitors should try the best bakery in town, Athanasius. It serves amazing Greek desserts and bread.’ Flash point: Join the celebrations for the Panama Canal’s 100th birthday next year. Who goes? Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have just bought a penthouse here, while Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey and Enrique Iglesias have all been seen scouting for properties.

From top: vibrant street art in the Casco Viejo and Cinto Costera neighbourhoods of Panama City includes witty sculptures, murals and graffiti; the diversity of the city, and its idyllic setting within easy reach of islands and rainforest, appeals to celebrities including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. 25 Baku.



( ChiCago Perfect for: Foodies who like a good view. Don’t miss: MANA, an art institute on the lower west side where you can see exhibitions at MANA Contemporary, attend a lecture or simply have a wander around their on-site artist’s studios. Travel scene: Chicago’s art community is booming. Whatever your level the city has it covered, from Anish Kapoor’s giant silver bean in Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago’s programme of exhibitions – including a 2014 retrospective of post-conceptual artist Christopher Wool – to the art district in East Pilsen, teeming with artistic activity. Chicago is well-known for its Art Deco architecture and skyline – the world’s first

26 Baku.

skyscraper was built here in 1884 – but its gastronomy is reaching new heights, too. From Michelin-starred restaurants down to humble diners and taverns, chefs are pushing the boundaries when it comes to culinary creativity. Local view: ‘The foodie scene has changed dramatically in the past 13 years,’ says Curtis Duffy, chef at Grace, recently awarded two Michelin stars. The art scene has developed too, agrees Cynthia Noble, who runs her own private art tours in the city. ‘But it has retained a wonderful contemporary edginess,’ she says. Flash point: Chicago Blues Festival, 13–15 June 2014. Who goes? Carey Mulligan, Lady Gaga and Tiger Woods have all been spotted enjoying Chicago’s best restaurants.

© RichaRd cummins/cORBis. GETTY. © RadEk hOfman/alamY. REX. WiREimaGE.


Clockwise from top left: MANA Contemporary in a disused tobacco factory; the city in lights; British artist Martin Creed’s ‘Work No. 1357, Mothers’ (2012) outside the Museum of Contemporary Art; the city skyline; the Jaume Plensa Crown Fountain in the Millennium Park; Chicago’s food scene ranges from taverns to fine dining; Lady Gaga performing in Chicago.


5 From top right: Nelson Mandela with Thabo Mbeki at an ANC rally; the graffiti-covered cooling towers of the Orlando Power Station; Mandela House on Vilakazi Street; the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg; the sun rising over the old town of Tallinn; the popular F-hoone bar; and Hurts in performance.

28 Baku.

tALLinn, eStoniA Perfect for: Techno kids with a penchant for the medieval. Don’t miss: the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design hidden away in a 17th-century storehouse in the Old Town. travel scene: Tallinn might resemble a chocolate box city, but it has hidden creative depths. A group called Art Container occupies a studio-cum-gallery which hosts performances with names like ‘Which way is your ass?’ You can also visit Tallinn’s Fotomuuseum in the bowels of a 14th-century prison. Tallinn is the (alleged) birthplace of marzipan and Skype; part cafe culture, part digital powerhouse. If all the talk of technology wears you out, step back in time in one of Tallinn’s retro bars like Must Puudel or F-hoone. Skip the tourist cafes in the Town Hall Square and explore the mesh of small cobbled streets in the Old Town, stopping off at Josephine cafe for a steaming bowl of hot chocolate. Local view: ‘It seems like everyone in Tallinn is working for a start-up,’ says TransferWise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus. ‘It has changed Tallinn’s vibe; its stag party days are over.’ flash point: Jazzkaar, the biggest jazz festival in the Baltics, 18–27 April 2014. who goes? Robbie Williams and synthpop band Hurts.

Soweto, South AfricA Perfect for: Channelling the peace. Don’t miss: Soweto Theatre; consisting of bright red, blue and yellow cube-like buildings, it is the district’s cultural hub. travel scene: With a population of 1m, Soweto is large enough to have an identity distinct from neighbouring Johannesburg. Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu have both lived on Vilakazi Street, the only street in the world to have been home to two Nobel Peace Prize winners. Soweto’s past as the centre of the struggle against white minority rule is gone but not forgotten; bike tours include visits to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg as well as local galleries. Soweto Fine Art Gallery was established in 1985 and represents prominent artists from across sub-Saharan Africa. The founder, Martin G Britz (‘Marty’), will give you his own art tour, which regularly culminates in a BBQ at his home. Other spots en route include Credo Mutwa Cultural Village in the heart of Soweto. Named after a respected local painter, sculptor, herbalist, author and prophet, Credo is nestled in the public park, the Oppenheimer Gardens. Or try the bungee jumping at Orlando Power Station. Local view: ‘Soweto is the cradle of democracy in Africa,’ says Marty. ‘When you walk into Soweto the vibrant cosmopolitan atmosphere is unlike anything else in the world. It is like a different country.’ flash point: 27 April 2014 marks 20 years since Nelson Mandela was elected to power. Expect big parties across the country. who goes? Shakira and Barack Obama. Kylie sang with Soweto’s Gospel Choir when she visited South Africa.

© Jonny white/alamy. aFP/Getty. © aFrica media online/alamy. reX. © euGene SerGeev/alamy. © Peter ForSberG/alamy.





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Sandra Mansour, photographed in her showroom on rue Saint Honoré, Paris.

With Flying Colours For Lebanese fashion designer Sandra Mansour, there are pots of gold to be found at the end of the rainbow, as she tells Dolly Jones. Portraits by Ed Alcock

andra Mansour’s sunny demeanour belies a steely personality that has seen her, at the tender age of 29, engage a global following and forge a place among the foremost female Lebanese designers. Born in Geneva, her parents having escaped the civil war in Beirut before she was born, she relocated back to her father’s hometown when she was 12, a culture shock that she says fuelled her determination to succeed as well as her creative eye. ‘It was intimidating at first – I had to adapt totally. I think of it as a transformation in colour,’ she explains. ‘In Geneva life is beige, white, black and

navy blue and by 8pm you can hear the crickets. In Beirut it’s electric blue and fuchsia and it comes alive at 8pm.’ Slight, smiling and modest, she is the perfect poster girl for a label finding increasing success with red carpet celebrities and bright young things. But Mansour admits to being a childhood fashion diva. ‘I was late for school most days because I was deciding what to wear,’ she laughs. 31 Baku.




Desperate to study fine art, her determination didn’t lead her directly to the creative career she wanted, however. Her father, a businessman who brought Zara and Massimo Dutti to Beirut, didn’t regard drawing as ‘a real job’ and she was consequently three-line whipped into studying business at Webster University in Geneva. ‘But once I graduated I enrolled at the Beaux Arts in Geneva to study art,’ she says. ‘I’d done what my parents wanted so it was time to satisfy myself.’ Inspired by the simplicity of American artists such as Alex Katz, she says working with colour felt like finding the end of the rainbow – but it wasn’t to last. Shortly after starting the course she returned to Beirut for the holidays and met Elie Saab at one of her father’s dinner parties. ‘I told him I needed a summer job and the next day I started a four-month placement with him.’ It was, she says, ‘a slap in the face to realise I wanted to design’. So after some soul searching she gave up on the Beaux

Designs from Sandra Mansour’s autumn/ winter 2013 collection (above); celebrity fans include Nicole Scherzinger (right).

Arts and enrolled instead in the Istituto Marangoni in Paris. ‘I knew fashion wasn’t all sparkle and I needed to learn how to develop a collection and pattern cut. I’ve always been told that to succeed you have to know your business from A to Z.’ Mansour’s tenacity comes to the fore again when she admits that she turned down a job with Saab once she’d finished the course. ‘I was 25 and Lebanese culture is all about marrying young – taking the job felt like settling down,’ she explains, adding that her parents were on board this time. ‘There is no pressure from them to marry,’ she says. ‘They understand my priorities – for now I’m married to my dresses.’ Instead, she set about going it alone – breaking even for the first time this year. ‘I started with a £5k loan from my father to make my first three dresses,’ she says. ‘I paid it back 12 weeks later because I did a cousin’s wedding dress and the next day three of her guests called and bought the originals. After that I had the confidence to go to the bank for a loan.’ If her own romantic aspirations come second to her ambition, it doesn’t show in Mansour’s work, which has resulted in dream-come-true bridal gowns for women all over the world. ‘All women are romantic and soft but fierce inside. Like my dresses – on the surface they are feminine but the

32 Baku.

cut is edgy; the mix of fabrics is surprising. It’s a celebration of women,’ she says. ‘In French there is a saying that you have a hand of steel and a glove of silk.’ Mansour comes across as something of a workaholic and admits her recent trip to Marrakech with her aunt was her first holiday in four years. At home, she prefers ‘the artsy scene to crazy Lebanese parties’ but doesn’t mind playing the fashion game when needed. ‘In this industry you have to – it’s all about playing dress up: who is the funniest, who is the coolest? That little girl in me can still come out sometimes.’ While Elie Saab remains a mentor, she cites designers like Haider Ackermann and Peter Pilotto as alternative inspirations. ‘Elie taught me all about femininity and romance and I think I’ve maintained that but added a grungier attitude.’ She’d also love to collaborate with Mary Katrantzou, given the opportunity: ‘With my fabric work and embroidery and her pattern, we’d do some crazy stuff together.’ Like so many successful designers, Mansour relies on a sound business mind – her brother’s – to run the commercial side of the business while she gets on with wooing women all over the world, boasting private clients and 16 stockists internationally. ‘In Azerbaijan we’re stocked in Paparazzi, while the Harvey Nichols buyers came to our Paris showroom on rue Saint Honoré this season,’ she says, adding

that she would love eventually to open stores in all the fashion capitals of the world. But no matter where her success takes the business, she’s staying in Beirut. ‘It’s inspiring to be there because of the disorder that so shocked me when I first arrived,’ she says. ‘It’s full of colour and action and it turns everything upside down.’


jonathan hordle/thames/rex.

All women Are romAntic And soft but fierce inside – like my dresses. there is A french sAying thAt you hAve A hAnd of steel And A glove of silk.

20/22 Khojaly Avenue 路 Baku, Azerbaijan 994 12 480 21 12 路

Getty. Rex.

Rihanna (above centre) is a fan of Wilfredo Rosado’s designs, which include these bracelets from his Honeycomb collection (top) and his Bloom range (above). Above right: Michelle Obama wears jewels by Loree Rodkin, who is best known for her huge rings.

beautiful mix of the modern and old,’ she confirms, adding, ‘as an up-and-coming market, it will be quite a power centre’. Based in California, Rodkin is one of the leaders of the new breed of American high-end jewellers being championed by Michelle Obama, who has worn her pieces to a number of public events, including her husband’s inauguration. But Rodkin’s more Gothic-style pieces have a rock star sensibility that has m the led to commissions from

the pressur pressures of big commercial brands, their th individual vision can mature matur to become the unique style st that is eventually sought after aft around the world. Nothing illustrates ill this better than the designers d whose work recen exhibited at was recently Emporium in Ba Baku. Carefully th individuality, chosen for their and all at diff different stages of their careers, each ea designer has a very different differ approach to their art yet a all subscribe to the same ideals o of high-quality craft, ft, have have a p ha passionate interest in intriguing g gemstones and a willingness to p push the What they also boundaries. Wha have ha hav e in common is tha that none had visited the cit city before but all ca came away inspired both by the place and the knowledgeable clients they met there. ‘Modern Medieval’ is a term many have applied to Baku and it is also a fitting description of Loree Rodkin’s work. ‘Baku is a

likes of Cher, Madonna onna and Elton John. ‘That’s the fun un part,’ she says, ‘when en Cher comes to look at a piece e and says “make it bigger and longer”, or Madonna tells me she needs something special for an album cover.’ She has been described as the world’s best-connected jewellery designer and many of those star clients are also her friends. Despite having made her own jewellery since she was 12, Rodkin initially worked as an interior designer and then managed a number of actors before finally making a career out of gems. When she did, she made sure to put quality first, learning ‘from a man who did all Cartier’s vintage repairs in Beverly Hills and now I have craftsmen who have worked by hand for 50 years’. She is best known for huge rings that run right down the finger or, bondage style, across several,


othing helps you to stand out from the crowd more than a piece of statement jewellery. A few well-chosen gems – from bijou trinkets to knockout sparklers – can often say more about someone’s personality than their clothes. Small wonder, then, that customers prize individuality over almost every other aspect of jewellery design. Most designers establish their early reputations while still working in independently, when, without


International jewellery designers are finding inspiration in Azerbaijan’s mix of old and new, as seen in a recent exhibition at a concept store on Baku’s seafront, says Avril Groom.


Baku Rocks

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Designs by Roberto Faraone Mennella and Amedeo Scognamiglio (above left), such as this Bullet bracelet (top), are loved by celebrities including actress Rosario Dawson and fashion editor Anna Dello Russo (far right). Luis Morais (above, with Kate Hudson) creates jewellery for everyday wear, like these rosegold cuffs (above).

I travel to a different country, it’s reflected in my jewellery’. So expect to see aspects of Baku’s architecture showing up in her next collection. Another designer at the Emporium show who started out in a different career was American Wilfredo Rosado. He worked with Giorgio Armani, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat before launching his jewellery brand three years ago, and now his work adorns stars such as Julia Roberts and Rihanna. His blend of high glamour and street style gives his designs an intriguing edge – he mixes materials such as gold-framed charred wood with coloured sapphires, or cut leather with diamonds, or gold and gems with delicate feathers from Parisian house Lemarié. Everything is crafted in France and Italy and his stated aim is to create ‘modern heirlooms’.

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none had visited the city before but all came away inspired both by the place and the knowledgeable clients they met there. Luis Morais’s jewels are also A-list favourites but in a very different way. He uses familiar motifs – skulls, crosses, angel wings – but sees them as only someone self-taught can. Born in Brazil, he trained as an engineer, gained a business degree and worked in the textile industry before he moved to Miami where he began collecting jewellery. ‘I was obsessed with a particular bracelet I couldn’t find so I made my own version,’ he recalls. Friends asked him for ones like it and 12 years ago he launched his first collection for men, though women love it too. ‘My work is for people who know about jewellery but who want something different. My idea is precious jewellery that is fun and can be worn every day,’ he says of jewels that use gold and diamonds with leather, rubber and plastic. ‘Pieces evolve as they are made. I love to experiment.’ His inspiration comes from ‘watching life on the street in Miami’ and he enjoyed similar people-watching opportunities in Baku. ‘It is very beautiful but quite

contradictory, with amazing new buildings, the narrow streets of the Old Town and a thriving contemporary art scene,’ he says. ‘The more Azerbaijan opens up, the more we will know about it and how it works. It’s great that tourists are going there now – I went into a rug shop and I was the second Brazilian customer that day.’ Reflecting this international side is Emporium’s final choice of designer, Faraone Mennella. The brand was founded in New York by Roberto Faraone Mennella and Amedeo Scognamiglio, both steeped in the traditions of their respective longestablished Italian jeweller families. Amedeo is also a master cameo carver. The brand takes its inspiration from the dolce vita lifestyle of Capri in the 1960s to make bold, modern gold pieces with rare stones such as their favourite blue opals from Australia. Their collection took off 10 years ago when Sarah Jessica Parker was filming an episode of Sex and the City near their studio, spotted their jewels and became a keen customer. They, too, loved Baku. ‘The city is great because it’s been so well planned and respects the old parts,’ says Scognamiglio. ‘The clients are so sophisticated and innately elegant. And they’re reaching out too, supporting young artists with exhibitions. We feel Baku will become a capital for the entire region, a focus for business, energy and the arts.’ No wonder jewellers love to visit, not only to sell but also to be inspired.


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often beautifully set with pavé diamonds or unusual coloured gemstones amid a complex tracery of oxidised precious metal. ‘I am influenced by the most ornamental periods in history, in particular Gothic and Art Nouveau, and also very deeply by architecture,’ she says. Unsurprisingly, Zaha Hadid’s new Heydar Aliyev Centre caught her eye while in Baku – that, and the view of the Caspian, were, she enthuses, ‘unparalleled. Every time

Lalla Essaydi Beyond Time and Beauty Museum of Modern Art Baku 14 Nov 2013 — 14 Jan 2014 Curated by Dina Nasser-Khadivi

Lalla Essaydi, Harem #18, 20 09 (detail)

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Mat Collishaw, self-portrait in his Camberwell studio, London.

Dark Arts

One of the original Young British Artists, Mat Collishaw has never shied away from shock value. And, as Alastair Smart discovers, age has definitely not withered him. Self-portrait by mAt ColliShAw

visit the artist Mat Collishaw on a glorious, late summer’s day in Camberwell, south-east London. I try ringing the bell, then knocking on the door, but no sound can be heard above the cacophony of building works taking place inside. Collishaw has bought a defunct 1930s pub and is in the final throes of converting it into a four-floor home and studio. After a short while, presumably prompted by one of

his builders, he answers the door. Sporting three-day stubble and a black shirt open almost to the waist, Collishaw apologizes, in a voice hoarse from smoking, for keeping me waiting. As we negotiate the building chaos on our way upstairs to his apartment, I ask if all this construction reminds him of the show with which he and his fellow Young British Artists (YBAs) first made their name, the ‘Freeze’ exhibition in 1988. This was one of the seminal moments in British art, in which 16 art students from Goldsmiths took over a dingy, empty warehouse in London’s Docklands. Spearheaded by Damien Hirst, the participants included now-familiar names Gary Hume, Michael Landy and Sarah Lucas. ‘There was a real sense of wanting to make things

happen, of not sitting around college waiting for a gallery to find you, but of being proactive and getting our work out there,’ Collishaw recalls. ‘Freeze’ was held in the summer holidays after the second year of Collishaw’s Fine Arts degree and he remembers it being a particularly hands-on experience. ‘We did everything ourselves, from finding the venue to designing the invitation cards. I personally 39 Baku.

horror, all unmade beds and bisected cattle. A good friend of Hirst’s to this day, as well as the longterm lover of Tracey Emin (until 2003), Collishaw embraced the YBAs’ hard-partying, heavydrinking ethos wholeheartedly. In such a context, Bullet Hole, on the surface, seemed entirely typical. Yet, over time, his work revealed surprisingly hidden depths, as well as disturbingly dark visions. His art has taken inspiration, variously, from Victorian child prostitution, suicidal Nazis, and mass starvation in Sudan. ‘My idea of shocking has never been about vomiting on the street and making the front page of the papers,’ says Collishaw. His attraction to the truly shocking is one reason he’s not quite as well known to the public at large as his YBA peers. Perhaps my favourite of his works – if favourite is the right word – is Deliverance (2008), a devastating photographic installation inspired by the Beslan school massacre in 2004. In a dark space, images of children running or being carried from a disaster are projected randomly around the walls, appearing abruptly with a

phosphorescent flash and then slowly fading like ghosts. In part, this is Collishaw’s contribution to a long, artistic tradition – from Caravaggio to Scorsese – of aestheticizing violence. Yet, it’s also his way of highlighting how the modern media abets a morbid fascination with the suffering of others. ‘In the 24-hour age of Internet and rolling news, one atrocity streams into our living rooms after another – and you start to ask yourself, “Am I engaging with this in genuine humanitarian concern for other people or like a Roman watching slaves being ripped apart in the Colosseum?”’ Not that Collishaw means this judgementally. ‘I don’t take a moral position. It’s more an observation, really – in terms of the whole history of human existence, we’ve only very recently evolved into civilized people, and there’s still a tension within us from our caveman instincts.’ Collishaw grew up in Nottingham where he was brought up by his Christadelphian

parents with the strict moral standards that this small Christian sect espoused. ‘My parents loved us, but it was hardly idyllic,’ says Collishaw – he used to sneak art books into the house from the library and read them illicitly at bedtime instead of the Bible. One doesn’t have to be an expert Freudian to imagine a link between his repressed childhood and unfettered artistic vision. On the day we meet, he seems very attached to his coffee cup. He’s tired but, he insists, from over-work rather than

We’ve only recently evolved into civilized people. there’s still tension Within us from our caveman instincts. taken him to Azerbaijan, albeit for pleasure rather than work. ‘I was curious to visit Baku, to experience the extraordinary coexistence of the modern with the medieval,’ he says. ‘Some buildings in the Old Town date from the 12th century, and they’re still visible as you look at the Flame Towers, those shimmering 21st-century monuments to bling that celebrate the city’s vast energy resources. I found the city fascinatingly surreal, a postmodern Mecca.’ Collishaw is 47 now, and the YBA days are a distant memory. The artists from those days are all still good friends, he says, though work and family commitments mean get-togethers are far less frequent. In the past few years, he’s seen his old pals Hirst (Tate Modern, 2012), Emin (Hayward, 2011), Hume (Tate Britain, 2013) and Lucas (Whitechapel, 2013) garlanded with retrospectives at the UK’s major public institutions. Is he expecting a call himself any time soon? ‘Not really. It’s not necessarily something I’d entirely welcome, either. Recognition on that level kind of means you’ve peaked, whereas I’m working hard on new projects. Always looking for fresh mountains to climb.’


© Mat Collishaw, Courtesy of the artist and blaine|southern. riChard young/rex.




From top: Collishaw’s ‘Last Meal on Death Row, Allen Lee Davies’ (2012); ‘Bullet Hole’ (1988); Collishaw with (left to right) Dinos Chapman, Tiphaine Chapman and Polly Morgan at London Collections, 2013.

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over-drinking. During 2013 Collishaw has had six solo shows around the world, from Istanbul to Miami. His bestreceived work has been Last Meal on Death Row (2010–12), a set of photographs inspired by the final meals of real Death Row inmates in Texas, set up in the manner of 17th-century Dutch still-life painting. In one, amidst deep shadow, a pink lobster rests on a glistening metal platter, surrounded by an appetizing assortment of shrimps and clams. ‘I’ve always been fascinated by an artist like Caravaggio, who, out of very dark subject matter, managed to create works of great beauty,’ Collishaw says. ‘It’s a potent cocktail,’ and one that he has tried to emulate. His travels have also recently

recall fixing lights, angle grinding radiators, and ripping up old carpet from concrete floors.’ So well-built is Collishaw one can see why he took on the heftier tasks. The whole ‘Freeze’ operation encapsulated a bold, go-get-’em attitude with which the YBAs became associated. Before long, the collector and galleryowner Charles Saatchi visited the exhibition, cheque book at the ready, famously launching a whole new generation of British artists. Collishaw’s work for ‘Freeze’, Bullet Hole, was perhaps the most emblematic. Sourced from a forensic pathology textbook, it’s a blown-up photograph, divided into a grid of 15 light boxes, of a deep wound in the back of a man’s head. There may, of course, be an iconographic reference in such imagery to the stigmata of Christ as depicted in the numerous paintings of the Passion, but YBA art was not best known for such subtlety. It was brash and in-yer-face, the stuff of headline-grabbing, tabloid-goading shock-


Amid a whirlwind of retrospectives, Francesco Vezzoli – the artist who makes the A-list cry – reveals his three guiding principles: art, religion and culture. Interview by francesca gavin

This page: Portrait of Francesco Vezzoli. Opposite: (top) ‘Portrait of Paulina Porizkova as a Renaissance Madonna with Holy Child Crying Salvador Dali’s Jewels (after Lorenzo Lotto)’ (2011), detail, and (below) ‘Portrait of Lady Gaga as Pierrot with Rainbow Tears’ (2009), detail.

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Photo Matteo Piazza, courtesy the artist. courtesy GaGosian Gallery.


rancesco Vezzoli couldn’t be more quintessentially Italian. His art may be very contemporary, but it is made from a language brimming with glamour, sex, power, hysteria, politics and emotion. Speaking on the phone from his base in Milan, Vezzoli has had not one, not two, but four retrospective exhibitions opening internationally in 2013. Yet despite such a mammoth task, Vezzoli remains a charming, enthusiastic and engaging figure, wherein lies the key to his spectacularly successful career so far.

His career took off when he was still young. He was born in Brescia, Italy, in 1971, and as a teenager he studied classical art and literature. In 1992 he moved to London to study art at Central St Martin’s School of Art and fell in love with what the Young British Artists (YBAs) were doing at that time: ‘I was looking at the work of Sarah Lucas and Damien Hirst, [work] that was not a denial of the past but certainly pays no reference to any of that. Everything was working class.’ By his mid-twenties, Vezzoli was showing with Anthony D’Offay, the most successful and influential dealer in London in the 1990s. Vezzoli had been introduced to D’Offay by his friend Lorcan O’Neill, the gallerist based in Rome who has since gone on to represent artists such as Tracey Emin and Martin Creed. Vezzoli is fully aware of his good fortune: ‘I was so lucky and that gave me access very early to a lot of people I’ve always wanted to meet. I used all that access to its maximum potential,’ he enthuses. Vezzoli first gained attention by creating works using an unexpected medium – embroidery. He hand-stitched embroideries representing artworks by Mark Rothko and Josef Albers among others, and later added needlepoint tears to pictures of women. Vezzoli recounts how he came to be interested in this surprisingly intimate technique: ‘My best friend at school taught me how to do needlework. He was recreating wall graffiti; I was recreating prostitute cards from phone booths. The idea was that we were taking mundane topics and representing them with a technique that was ancient and homey and female, and had nothing to do with the conceptual nature of those images,’ he recalls in his richly accented English. It was while making these needlepoint works that he began to study the biographies of actresses and their public and private identities, which lead to a wider examination of cinema, the media and fiction. 43 Baku.

discourse of film-making. I’m not trying to say anything about cinema; I’m saying something about art. I’m here as an artist. As an artwork Caligula speaks like a mirror to the art world,’ he argues passionately. Vezzoli’s art is inhabited by glamorous, beautiful, powerful and often very famous women. This is a theme he is drawn to naturally. ‘It really just comes from the depths of my stomach,’ he shrugs. ‘But you know there is nothing rational about it. I love women. I love strong women. I love the fact that they are engaged in a battle and I love the way they handle power and I love their grace. For me, they are the answers to all the bad things in the world.’ He has persuaded famous actresses, including Helen Mirren, Eva Mendes, Courtney Love, Lauren Bacall, Karen Black, Sharon Stone and Marisa Berenson, to star in his video works. It’s a list that would be the envy of most Hollywood producers. How he secures such A-list participation in his projects is something Vezzoli can’t really explain. ‘That’s the only secret I cannot share, because I don’t know what the secret is!’ he exclaims, seeming genuinely baffled. There is no doubt, however, that his openness and charm – as well as these women’s desire to be involved – has to be part of how he can achieve this. His relationship to fame and recognition was unexpectedly transformed when he opened his show, ‘Francesco Vezzoli: Museum of Crying Women’, at the Qatar Museums Authority in Doha in October 2013. ‘I’ve used iconic women for my videos because I am making art, so I need the meaning of my work to be very clear,’ he explains. ‘But I was all of a sudden in a country in the world where 95 per cent of those faces, all these icons that I have considered beyond representation, beyond obvious, meant absolutely nothing. It was so fascinating, so terrifying [to find] myself in a place where the iconography was completely different,’ he recalls. ‘It was such a challenge. I had to change everything. I had to make it even more universal.’ As a result, the emphasis of the exhibition’s subject matter became the evolving identity of women and was accompanied by an online project inviting women to tell their stories of pain or happiness. Clockwise from above: ‘You Who Enjoyed My Tears (Oum Kalthoum’s Hall of Fame)’ (2013), detail; still from ‘A Love Trilogy: Self-portrait with Marisa Berenson as Edith Piaf’ (1999); still from ‘Greed, a New Fragrance by Francesco Vezzoli’ (2009).

Vezzoli has a genius for deconstructing the media by adopting its hyperbolic gloss into his own video pieces, installations and photo-collage works. One of his best-known works is Trailer for the Remake of Gore Vidal’s Caligula (2005), a camp, fake ad for an imaginary remake of the 1979 classic film Caligula, which its writer Vidal had originally intended as a metaphor for power leading to violence and excess. A couple of years later, Vezzoli’s video installation Democrazy (2007), which was exhibited at the Venice Biennale that year, pulled apart the American political media to expose how entertainment and seduction are exploited during US presidential campaigns (in fact, Vezzoli produced these fictional political broadcasts in collaboration with former media advisers to George W Bush and Bill Clinton). In 2009, Vezzoli

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worked with the film director Roman Polanski on a glossy commercial starring Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams for a fake perfume called Greed. In all these works, Vezzoli dismantles our relationship with fame, with icons, with film, with politics – yet the main subject at the heart of this work is the deconstruction of the art world itself. Explaining his intentions, Vezzoli says: ‘I never wanted to make a movie. I never really wanted to make a pop video. I don’t think Caligula has much to say within the

Opposite from top: ‘Self-portrait with Vera Lehndorff as Veruschka’ (2001), in collaboration with Vera Lehndorff and Gianpaolo Barbieri; still from ‘Democrazy’ (2007).

Vezzoli is going to do one of his tears portraits for the most interesting story. The Qatar show was held at the same time as the central celebration of all things Vezzoli – ‘The Trinity’. This three-part retrospective of the artist’s work kicked off at the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo (MAXXI) in Rome in May 2013, opened at the Museum of Modern Art PS1 (MoMA PS1) in New York in October and is due to be launched at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in Los Angeles this winter. This trio of exhibitions focussed respectively on the three main themes at the heart of Vezzoli’s work – art, religion and glamour. Religion is perhaps the least immediately apparent facet of his output, but his show at MoMA PS1, at which he is rebuilding, brick by brick, a small church from Southern Italy in the museum’s

Courtesy the artist. Courtesy MoCa, Los angeLes. photo guy Ferrandis, Courtesy gagosian gaLLery. photo Matthias Vriens, Courtesy MaXXi – Museo nazionaLe deLLe arti de XXi seCoLo, roMe.

To be honest I prefer truth to fiction, that’s why I am ridiculing fiction in my work. I am basically trying to deconstruct faith. I am trying to deconstruct all the lies beneath the commercial mechanism.

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Vezzoli grew up with a Catholic background, though he was not a practising believer. ‘I refused communion when I was very young [but] I did not refuse religion… I praise all the artistic leftovers we have from hundreds and hundreds of years of beautiful paintings and sculptures and buildings commissioned by the church. The church has been the most glamorous patron ever.’ There is no doubt that Vezzoli’s aesthetic is rooted in the senses and he is acutely

Photo sebastiano Pellion di Persano, courtesy galleria franco noero, turin. courtesy QMa gallery, Katara, doha. courtesy the artist.

between all these fields. Whether you are looking at an image of a saint, a Rothko painting or the face of Greta Garbo – there is nothing objective. This emotion is brought to you by the fact that you believe that this face and these images are the vehicle for something higher or more important.’ He pauses before adding with a flourish: ‘Hollywood is the church of celebrity, Rome is the church of churches, and New York is the church of culture.’

Clockwise from above: ‘Portrait of Sophia Loren as the Muse of Antiquity (after Giorgio de Chirico)’ (2011); installation shots of ‘Museum of Crying Women’ at QMA Gallery, Doha; ‘Jane & Gloria’ (2013), detail.

courtyard to house his works, will make clear how important it is to his thinking. In fact, this show is something of a continuation of his project at the ‘Sacrilegio’ exhibition in New York in 2011, at which he transformed a gallery into a private chapel. For Vezzoli, there is fundamental common ground to his disparate themes. As he explains: ‘The element of religion is very important because I think whether it’s art, whether it’s glamour, whether it’s religion – it’s about belief. This is the emotional link

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aware of his Italian cultural history. Ancient classical art has been a focus for him in recent years – he has been buying pieces of ancient Roman and Greek sculpture to incorporate into his own work, often reinterpreting them by superimposing his own face on the work. Bringing historical art into the present is important for Vezzoli: ‘I feel that the system of contemporary art [is] facing a wall. We’ve been running very fast toward the future and not really looking back enough,’ he laments. ‘All these elements of desire, of pleasure, have been there and I think we should just really look at the past for a little while – to make a better edit of our future,’ he says firmly. Then, almost as a kind of manifesto, he adds, ‘If I want to find something that is really, really new, first I have to study my past really, really well.’ His use of classical sculpture is not just about antiquity, however, it is an extension

courtesy gagosian gallery. courtesy galerie yvon lambert, Paris. Photo PhilliPe D. PhotograPhy, courtesy FunDación almine y bernarD ruiz-Picasso Para el arte + almine rech gallery.

I love women. I love strong women. I love the fact that they are engaged in a battle and I love the way they handle power and I love their grace. For me, they are the answers to all the bad things in the world.

of Vezzoli’s sense of self-portraiture. ‘Honestly, there is so much going on in the world, there are so many levels of knowledge and creativity, that unless it’s about yourself, why should people bother?’ The face of the artist – attractive with big brown eyes and a touch of the young Andy Garcia about him – is one of the recurring images in his work. Popping up in his film pieces and turned to marble in his sculptures, the artist’s presence is often funny but also a serious reminder about the roles of fact, fiction and meaning. ‘To be honest I prefer truth to fiction, that’s why I am ridiculing fiction in my work. I am basically trying to deconstruct faith. I am trying to deconstruct all the lies beneath the commercial mechanism. I think my presence is a kind of anchor and it says, “this is my world, this is my universe, these are my fantasies, that’s why you should look at them”’. Indeed, people should make the effort to see Vezzoli’s work in real life, especially for his engaging use of installation. He sets his work in decadent halls, at parties, in private chapels. The staging transforms the work and makes the blurry line between reality and

Clockwise from left: ‘Silvana Mangano as Mary Magdalene’ (1999–2009), detail; ‘Madonna of the Bauhaus’ (2012); ‘Olga Forever (Olga Picasso, bal des Beaumont, 1924)’ (2012), detail.

fiction even more tenuous. ‘I have a friend, Stefano Tonchi [the editor of W magazine], who said these days an exhibition can be seen on an iPad. Most people can experience those artworks in a magazine, on a website. They can google my name and see them on YouTube. I’m just [making these installations] out of sheer necessity to give to the audience something special.’ The lighting and spatial arrangement of his installations also bring out the humour of his work, making things even more over the top, shiny and playful. After this hat-trick of major shows Vezzoli intends to take a year off – though he hasn’t found looking back over his

20-year career melancholic. ‘It’s such a big task to make this exhibition a reality,’ he says. ‘I don’t have time to think about [the artworks] in conceptual or emotional terms. I just want to get the job done. I leave it to others to get angry or happy or moody or melancholic.’ He has now moved to Milan to take a step away from the international art merry-go-round of the past two decades. ‘I’m enjoying a lot of stanziale, as we say in Italy. I’m enjoying a period where I am happy to be near my roots. I’ve been to MoMA 500 times. I’ve been to Tate a billion times. D’Offay took us to see the ground breaking at Tate Modern. A friend took me to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim before it opened there, when it was still empty,’ he recalls. And staying true to his vision of the past and how it shapes the future, he adds: ‘I’ve seen all these great cathedrals of art growing, and now I’m happy to go back to Giotto.’


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VIPS Clockwise from top left: Art Basel Miami Beach attracts celebrities including (top left) actor Adrien Brody; VIPs at a preview during Art Dubai; the actress Noomi Rapace in Miami; Frieze Art Fair in London draws highprofile names including Anita Zabludowicz and Jonathan Yeo; private events in Dubai and Miami. Background: Barbara Kruger works at Art Basel Miami Beach. 48 Baku.

© AlAmy celebrity/AlAmy. Getty. © briAn cAhn/ZUmA Press/corbis. wireimAGe. PAtrick lAZic. richArd yoUnG/rex.

ONLY The art fair experience for those with access to the inner sanctum of deal-making and events is very different to the experience of the general public. And the gap is widening. Words by REBECCA ROSE


ut I’m on the guest list too!’ was not something one used to hear at art fairs, but VIP access has become so fetishized that artists Elmgreen & Dragset chose this refrain for the title of their piece in the sculpture park at the latest Frieze Art Fair in London. The work itself is a mirrored door slightly ajar within its frame; engraved with the letters V.I.P., the door promises a world through the looking glass. Its position outside the UK’s most influential contemporary art fair is a bold statement that cocks a snook at the perceived exclusivity of the art world. Over recent years the larger contemporary art fairs have evolved into unmissable social occasions that are enjoyed by an audience that now includes families, students and tourists. At the heart of this global art fair calendar lies a passwordprotected sanctum through which VIPs – collectors, museum directors, advisers and curators – are given exclusive access to a city’s art scene via its patrons and institutions. The scale of these events can feel overwhelming, an issue which fair organizers realize may dampen the spirits of the select group of buyers in the exhibitors’ crosshairs. The solution comes in the form of a gilded invitation, usually 49 Baku.

containing a credit-card-sized pass, that tempts visitors into a world of limitedaccess talks, studio visits and guided tours. VIP guests are requested to register their interest online and then sign up for a selection of activities. The art fair experience then truly begins with the thud of a custom-made diary landing on the doormat. These are often designed to resemble miniature artworks themselves – the VIP programme for the latest Vienna Art, for example, was packaged in a striking Art Deco-print envelope, which opened like an attaché case to reveal a golden brochure of events, restaurant recommendations and blank pages at the end intended as ‘space for your thoughts’. As art fair organizers compete to capture our attention, the invitations must reflect the experience ahead. A plain white card simply won’t do. Once an art fair is established, its influence can reach across an entire city, such as Frieze Art Fair in London’s Regent’s Park, already in its 10th year, which inspires a huge variety of satellite cultural events throughout the capital. A meticulously composed programme of events for VIPs can encourage collectors and industry professionals to connect with a city’s art scene on a profound level. ‘The museum events are the backbone of our VIP programme, encouraging a certain level of potential donor to go to these venues,’ explains Kristina McLean, head of VIP events at Frieze. ‘We also include private collection visits – I would that say that is the part people get most excited about. Seeing what other people collect is very inspiring for our guests. The element of discovery is important – friendships form through a shared passion and it’s a great atmosphere.’ A highlight of one VIP programme at Frieze was a visit to see works from the government art collection at No. 10 Downing Street, with a personal appearance from the Prime Minister himself.

This page, clockwise from below left: Elmgreen & Dragset’s ‘But I’m on the guest list too!’ (2012) examines the art VIP experience; Tracey Emin, Catherine Opre and Patrick Li at Frieze London; a talk at Art Basel Miami Beach chaired by Hans Ulrich Obrist, co-director of London’s Serpentine Gallery; Art Basel Miami Beach A-listers Owen Wilson, Uma Thurman and Pharrell Williams. Background picture: ‘Safety Cones (After Richard Serra)’ (2013) by Rob Pruitt.

A meticulously composed programme of events for VIPs encourages collectors to connect with a city’s art scene on a profound level.

Such is the cultural, not to mention economic, clout of the art fair. Yet VIP programmes vary greatly from region to region: ‘Something we realized over the years is that so many of the collectors who come to the fair also want to discover the region, because it is completely new to them,’ says Lela Csáky, VIP co-ordinator of Art Dubai. ‘Our VIP programme includes visits within Qatar, Doha, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi, and in 2012 we included a new emirate called Al Ain. They are all so 50 Baku.

different yet complement one another very well – Sharjah is more curatorial, for example, and Dubai is more a commercial hub,’ she says. ‘Our studio visits are also very different to those on other art fair programmes such as in New York, where you see the artist in these vast warehouse spaces. Here, many artists work from home, and we are seeing others coming from Syria and Tehran and making Dubai their creative base. Visitors get a real insight into the region.’

DaviD Owens. getty. wireimage. © anastasia mishenkO/DemOtix/cOrbis. cOurtesy mOunir fatmi anD LOmnarD frieD gaLLery.

And who are these visitors? The art professionals consist mainly of museum groups, who often bring their staff and a select group of patrons. ‘There is quite a big shift in how museums are supported so they have to get more creative about how they acquire funding,’ McLean points out. ‘A great way to do that is through a museum’s patrons programme where curators are on hand to advise them with any purchases. Some collectors are very daring and open to discovery, yet others who are perhaps younger really do value the opinion of an academic source, such as a curator they know and trust.’ One collector who has experienced both sides of the art fair VIP programme, as guest and host, is Anita Zabludowicz, who exhibits works from the Zabludowicz Collection as well as new commissions in her project space in a 19th-century Methodist chapel in Camden, London. ‘There are many strangers arriving into town [for the art fair],’ she explains, ‘and some of them are very serious collectors or museum directors so it’s important that we look after them. I invite 40 VIPs from the Frieze programme to our home for lunch

This page, clockwise from top left: gallerist Maureen Paley, Florence Welch and Kate Moss attend a private dinner during Frieze London; ‘Sacred Heart’ (1994-2007) by Jeff Koons on display in London; ‘I Like America’ (2007) by Mounir Fatmi at Art Dubai.

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I invite 40 Frieze VIPs to our home for lunch every year. The best experiences are down to hospitality and a more personal level of service.

every year. I find the best experiences are down to the hospitality and a more personal level of service.’ Marc Spiegler, director of Art Basel, agrees: ‘It is as much about inspiring collectors as offering a platform to make new contacts,’ he observes. ‘Visits to the home of a collector are always sought after, because people find it so interesting and inspiring to see how these patrons have integrated major works into their daily lives.’ Yet it’s not always possible to offer an intimate environment. Art Basel Miami Beach is almost as famous for its party atmosphere as for the fair itself. ‘There are hundreds of people,’ warns Anita. ‘If you just want to party that’s great, but to have serious conversations… I’m not sure that’s the best place. You may be a VIP collector but that doesn’t put you in the A-crowd in Miami – you need to be a celebrity. I have a great time there and it’s always interesting, but it does feel a bit strange.’ To be familiar with both sides of the velvet rope is rarer still for artists, who often shun art fairs, comparing the experience to bursting in on one’s parents’ bedroom, but there are exceptions. In 2010 champagne house Ruinart commissioned artist Gideon Rubin to produce a series of portraits based on historical figures from the Maison. The paintings and the artist occupied an elegant stand next to gallery booths at art

the concept of involving the artist as well as his work at an art fair is unusual. Rubin, an Israeli-born painter based in London, recalls: ‘I attended the opening and held interviews with the press – the Maison was incredibly well-organized and a joy to work with. Not only did I bump into old collectors of mine, but I also gained new ones. One evening I met [author and curator] RoseLee Goldberg – that was like meeting one of my art history books.’ It can be a challenge for artists to be involved in more commercial collaborations, but Rubin enjoyed a liberating partnership with Ruinart. ‘This is a company that has such a long tradition of quality, and understanding of art and aesthetic,’ says Rubin. ‘They definitely “get it” and gave me

fairs in Basel, London, Mexico City and Hong Kong. Guests were invited to sample Ruinart’s prestige cuvée and look at the art. The champagne house has a long history of collaborations with artists and designers, yet

creative freedom, and I think that is how it works best with artists. When someone like Ruinart is behind you, things move very quickly, which is not something one sees very often in the art world.’ One word in particular connects each guest, host and speaker on a VIP

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programme, and that’s ‘discovery’. McLean points out that one of the most popular parts of the Frieze VIP programme is called Talks on Collecting, at which prominent art collectors recount their experiences. ‘They talk about the mistakes they made, what they collect and why, and what drives them. Younger people in

This page, clockwise from top: Yudi Noor’s ‘Forgotten in Quantum’ (2013) at Art Dubai; Naomi Campbell spotted at Art Basel Miami Beach; Nick Rhodes and Mark Hix were guests at a Frieze London preview; work by GT Pellizzi at Untitled, a satellite fair of Art Basel Miami Beach.

Siddarth Siva. richard young/rex. © chriS gordon/corbiS. © brian cahn/ZuMa PreSS/corbiS. getty. geoff Pugh/rex. Patrick LaZic.

particular really enjoy listening to somebody else’s journey’. Speakers have included collector Uli Sigg, design critic Alice Rawsthorn and curator Alison M. Gingeras, with themes ranging from the psychology of collecting to the question of taste. ‘We enjoy introducing people, art lovers from all over the world,’ McLean adds. ‘Not just collectors but museum directors and curators, advisers and galleries all come together and that makes the fair really exciting. They become “art circuit friends” – it’s very social.’ For most the appeal of fairs goes beyond schmoozing at the vernissage. Both social and professional networks may be strengthened as a result of moving within VIP circles but underneath the chat lies a shared passion for art. Visual art has the power to take the viewer into a new reality, an unregulated world with no template for beauty. It is perhaps the esoteric nature of this attraction that draws visitors to connect through ‘discoveries’: the thrill of mapping the unknown with the reassurance of peer approval. Mirrored doors may exist for many, yet the best VIP programmes can provide a revealing portal to a city’s culture and hospitality. When souvenir hunting is this expensive, it helps to have the right support system in place.


Above: Artist Gideon Rubin for Ruinart. VIPs enjoy a preview of Ron Mueck’s sculpture ‘Woman with Shopping’ (2013) at Frieze London (main), and attend exclusive events such as the Cartier lunch at Art Dubai (left). 53 Baku.

Metallics cut a dash as winter’s muted colour palette blends into the epic backdrop of Qax in northern Azerbaijan. Photographs by michael hauptman Styling by mary fellowes

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previous page. Jumper by sass & bide. Cardigan by max mara. Skirt by vivienne westwood. this page. Jumper by paul smith. Skirt shorts by vivienne westwood. Blanket by hermĂˆs. Socks by falke. Boots by chanel. opposite page. Coat by max mara.

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this page. Dress by veronica beard. Boots by carvela. opposite. Coat by max mara.

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this page. Dress by vivienne westwood. Cardigan (around waist) by prada. Socks by falke. Boots by carvela. opposite. Dress by sass & bide. Jumper by max mara. Vintage trousers by versace. Boots by carvela.

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this page and opposite. Coat by Max Mara. Dress by cleMents ribeiro. Boots stylist’s own.

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above, clockwise from top left. Cardigan by vivienne westwood; Headbands by rachel black (T-shirt model’s own); Top by vivienne westwood; Jumper dress by pringle of scotland, rain cape by mountain warehouse. opposite. Coat and jumper by paul smith. Vintage trousers by versace. Boots by carvela.

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this page. Jumper by Maison Martin Margiela. Jumper (over shoulders) by paul sMith. Skirt by vivienne westwood. opposite. Dress by vivienne westwood. Boots by carvela.

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this page. Top by zoe jordan. Skirt by vivienne westwood. Socks by falke. opposite. Hat by giles. Rain cape by trespass. Dress by ashish. Socks by falke. Boots by chanel.

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Hat by giles. Jumper by paul smith. Body (just seen) by american apparel. Skirt by max mara. Boots by carvela.

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Hair by Jose QuiJano. Make-up by nicky Weir. Model claire collins at iMG. Fashion Assistant Francesca Prudente. Producer Maria Webster.


olythene strips suspended in space like vapours; a video of a hot summer’s day at the beach playing on a loop; a room seemingly empty but charged with oxygen… The winter 2013 exhibition ‘Zavod’, from Baku contemporary art organization YARAT, tackled themes ranging from technical progress to the very air we breathe, inspired by its setting in a former airconditioning factory. YARAT often transforms edgy, alternative spaces into platforms for art. For ‘Zavod’, 29 emerging Azerbaijani artists were invited by curator Faig Ahmed to create artworks inspired by a visit to the disused Baku Air Conditioning Works, a victim of the economic crisis following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The results are startling. There is a poignancy to those pieces which point to absence – silent reminders of the human face of the economic crash. Other installations employ humour, playing with our preconceptions of factory labour. Some look forward to the future, imagining a rebirth for this derelict place; others take a historic approach, seeking to reflect that nowobsolete way of life. All engage with and deconstruct their setting in surprising and often unsettling ways. Housing these new artworks, the old factory is once more imbued with a sense of purpose.


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Habid Saher

Always Here

Saher’s disquieting light installation brings past and present together into one moment, putting the visitor in the shoes of the workers who once laboured here. The effect is of being in a room full of people yet entirely alone; the neon tubes shine like chalk outlines marking where bodies once lay.

factory Contemporary art exhibition ‘Zavod’ brought a breath of fresh air to the derelict Baku Air Conditioning Plant. Words by laura arcHer Photography by fakHriyya mammadova

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Elvin Nabizada Chance

This brightly lit Rubik’s Cube is the only space in the exhibition to be cooled by an air-conditioning unit produced at the factory, and this is the only opportunity to experience what this factory once created. It seems to signify the random nature of history, the arbitrary events leading to this point, like the endless configurations of a Rubik’s Cube.

Ayna Musayeva The Beginning

Air conditioning today is synonymous with keeping people cool, but its original purpose was to keep the paper dry in the humid printing presses of New York. Returning to the industry’s roots, Musayeva has draped sheets of paper from the factory’s ceiling, fashioned to seem as if they are running with liquid gold.

Anar Samsiyev and Ruslan A´gazada Copy

If you’re looking for a sign to guide you, here are several – but which one is real? What is merely illusion? The artists play with our perceptions, photographing objects, making slight colour changes to the prints and hanging the images next to the originals – can you spot the difference?


Zamir Süleymanov Changli and His Army

Meet your fans – dozens of them, marching across the floor. In a wry nod to the idea of progress, Süleymanov has filled an area in the factory with air-conditioning’s predecessor: the humble fan. The point, however, is the number of fans required to have the same cooling effect as one airconditioning unit.


Lala Qasim Workers

From literature to cinema, the rise of the machines has always been a potent theme, symbolizing mankind’s fear of being replaced by our own inventions. What price will we pay for progress? Here, Qasim brings this anxiety to life, turning his workforce into machines – human-shaped but transforming into metal and wire before our eyes.


Emin Azizbayli 26 Metronom

If ever there was a reminder that time is running out, Azizbayli’s installation is it. As you stand and look at the clocks, all collected from the abandoned factory, the sound of György Ligeti’s famous composition for 100 metronomes fills the air. Time is, quite literally, ticking away in front of you.

Fidan Abdullazada

New Candy Canes in the Old Factory

Appearances can be deceptive, as Abdullazada sets out to prove with his installation, which takes familiar building parts and factory tools and renders them unrecognizable with paints, tapes and lights.

Nazrin Rashidova performing at a live concert in Cairo, 1992 (aged 4).

Former child prodigy Nazrin Rashidova could have been another Vanessa Mae. But the Azerbaijan-born violin virtuoso has chosen a purer path. Interview by james lachno Portraits by can evgin Styling by melina nicolaide 76 Baku.

Top by BALENCIAGA. Earrings by GIVENCHY.

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This page Dress by PETER PILOTTO. Opposite Dress by CHRISTOPHER KANE. Headpiece by BENOIT MISSOLIN.

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azrin Rashidova groans. ‘I still cringe to this day,’ she says, her cheeks turning pink with embarrassment. ‘I was followed everywhere: on the tube, in my classes at the Royal Academy. It was quite a surreal experience.’ The 25-year-old Azerbaijan-born violinist is recalling how, nine years ago, she was one of the subjects of a series of documentary shorts aired by British broadcaster Channel 4, entitled Don’t Hate Me Because… One episode followed an extremely tall man, another an implausibly beautiful teen. Rashidova’s, meanwhile, labelled her a child prodigy. ‘Music came to me before I opened my mouth to speak,’ she tells me when we meet in a hotel in central London. So, what’s it like having a gift? ‘I wouldn’t want to call it that,’ she says, brushing a lock of wavy mahogany hair aside as she searches for a diplomatic reply. ‘Music is inbuilt in you, it’s just about developing it.’ One wonders how she can be so modest, given her accomplishments and her precocious talent. Dressed in a cream jumper, skinny blue jeans and boots, she could easily blend in with her fellow 20-something Londoners. Yet her story is a remarkable one. Born in Baku in 1988, the only child of two professional violinists, Rashidova had music in her blood. ‘My parents tell me I’d react to sad and happy music at the age of one.’ Her father brought home her first violin when she was two and, aged three, the young Rashidova made her concert debut at Baku’s Heydar Aliyev Palace. She was so young that she can’t even remember that occasion, but she’s arrived today armed with photographs detailing her fledgling steps as a performer. One shows a smiling child of four with violin in hand, standing barely taller than a trumpet. In another, Rashidova is hugging the late Azerbaijani President, Heydar Aliyev. It was taken after a performance in Cairo, where her family had relocated in 1991. ‘I had just given the President a miniature violin statue to remember me by,’ she says. Another memento she produces is a programme, listing her as ‘The Child Nazrin Rashidova’, for a recital at Cairo Opera House in 1994 – one of her earliest memories. ‘It was over one hour of music, and all executed by heart,’ she recalls. ‘Afterwards, members of the public approached my father and said “wonderful concert, just wondered why your daughter kept looking at the floor?” Father had drawn a circle around me and said, “you have to stay in here”, like a game, in case I was afraid and ran away.’ It was a performance that won her the opera house’s Gold Medal at the age of six, making her the first child

ever to receive the honour. ‘It wasn’t daunting to me – it just felt natural,’ she says. And this unruffled streak remains part of her character. ‘Even now, when I go on stage, people always say: “you look so calm”. Nerves are there, but it’s about control.’ After four happy years in Cairo, in 1995 Rashidova was given a place at the Purcell School of Music, a specialist music academy for children in London. She’d only been in the UK for a few months before she was asked to perform for Prince Charles, a patron of the school, at Buckingham Palace. Then, in 1998, aged 10, she became the youngest ever semi-finalist at the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition for young musicians. Yet the move to London was not a seamless one. Her father had to stay behind in Cairo for work, and could see his family only twice a year. Rashidova

Rashidova took up her place at the Royal Academy at 15, heralded by thenprincipal Sir Curtis Price as "one of the most talented musicians to have walked through our doors in 40 years".

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Popular music is like jewellery. Classical music is like diamonds – clean and pure. Somehow we should be able to do things purely. missed him dearly. ‘It was a very tough four years [until he joined us].’ It’s clear that her close relationship with her parents is important. ‘They have really sacrificed [a lot for me],’ she admits. She rejects the idea that they were ever the archetypal pushy parents – quite the opposite, in fact. When, at 12, Radishova was offered a place at London’s esteemed Royal Academy of Music some six years ahead of most entrants, her parents told her to wait so that she’d be better able to socialize with other students. ‘That’s what I love about my parents – they’ve been so supportive but not really pushed me,’ she says. Rashidova eventually took up her place at the Royal Academy at 15, heralded by thenprincipal Sir Curtis Price as ‘one of the most talented musicians to have walked through [our] doors in 40 years’. While there, she was taught by renowned violinists

From left: a three-year-old Rashidova rehearsing before her debut solo concert in 1991, in Baku; FeMusa performing at the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall in June 2013; Rashidova meeting HM Queen Rania of Jordan in 2001, following a concert in aid of Medical Aid for Iraqi Children.

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such as Lydia Mordkovitch, performed with Maxim Vengerov and Lewis Kaplan, and was the first student to enjoy a two-year loan of a violin made by the great Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari – ‘a huge privilege’. She graduated with a Master of Music degree in 2009. ‘It was a true musical home,’ she says. It was there that she founded FeMusa String Ensemble, in 2008. Made up of fellow college students, it is Britain’s first allfemale chamber orchestra since the 1950s. She may be modest about her own achievements but she's passionate about FeMusa. ‘It’s a beautiful thing,’ she gushes. ‘There aren’t enough female orchestras in the world today. As women we’re very emotional and can dig into repertoire that showcases that nature.’ Better than the boys? ‘Perhaps!’ she chuckles. In June this year she returned to Baku with the group. ‘It was a wonderful experience to travel back home with an ensemble and be greeted with such warmth. One of the girls from Scotland was even photographed with an “I love Baku” t-shirt!’ While Rashidova is keen to play down any overt feminist mission, after performing at the Omani Women’s Day celebration

concert in Muscat in 2012, she admits she’s very happy for FeMusa to ‘show a voice’ for women in Middle Eastern countries. The long view is key, though: Rashidova sees the orchestra not as a gimmick, but rather as her lifework. ‘We have something new to offer and a special place in the industry. I really feel that commercially FeMusa can have a future.’ This raises an interesting dilemma for any young classical artist – how does one try and make classical music as commercially viable as, say, its sexier cousin, pop? ‘Classical and pop are very different industries,’ she ponders. ‘You can compare popular music to jewellery, and classical music to diamonds. The diamond is clean and pure – and that’s what classical music is. Somehow we should be able to do things purely.’ But what about another child prodigy violinist, Vanessa Mae, whose glamorous image and crossover classical style have led to album sales in the millions – is Rashidova tempted to do the same? Her answer is typically diplomatic. ‘Every artist speaks for themselves, and I admire their achievements.’ There’s a pause as she seems to consider, just for a moment, the fame and fortune that could be had. But then she concludes, ‘It’s not necessarily something that would interest me.’ For now, she’s got more pressing matters to attend to – such as two new albums. The first, released in June, is a recording of Polish-American composer Leopold Godowsky’s music for piano and violin, in which she is

accompanied by Roderick Chadwick. The main work on the album is Twelve Impressions, which Godowsky dedicated in 1916 to Austrian violin maestro Fritz Kreisler, one of Rashidova’s heroes. ‘I really look up to him, his distinctive golden sound,’ she says. If the Godowsky release invokes her musical icons, then Rashidova’s other album is a love letter to her roots. Dreams is a collaboration between

Rashidova and Bulgarian guitarist Stanislav Hvartchilkov, featuring the pair's arrangements of Azerbaijani songs written for films. ‘Play these songs to any Azerbaijani, and they will sing along,’ she beams. ‘They were very popular during Soviet times, and I’ve always been very fond of them.’ Dreams is a gorgeous, sultry listen, imbued with the fiery spirit of the Caucasus. ‘It’s a different approach to classical playing,’ Rashidova explains. ‘Listen to it with a glass of red wine.’ With so much on, I wonder how Rashidova ever has time to unwind. ‘I don’t practise so much now,’ she laughs. ‘I love reading the classics – Austen is my favourite – and I enjoy yoga, in the stronger Ashtanga form, which involves a lot of painful stretching. But it’s fun.’ She likes to travel, and her work has taken her across Europe, to America, and Japan. She’d love to see more of Asia, but it’s the violin that takes priority. ‘It’s always been my great passion,’ she shrugs. ‘And to be able to have that combined with making a living is a great thing.’ As we both contemplate this, I’m reminded of a comment left under the YouTube video of the three-year-old Rashidova playing: ‘Was she born for the violin, or the violin for her?’ This child prodigy may have grown up, but she’s only just getting started.


Nazrin Rashidova is a cultural ambassador for BP.

Dress by EMMA COOK. Necklace by GIVENCHY. Hair by TEIjI UTsUMI. Make-up by ArIEl YEH. Manicurist sAbrINA GAYlE. Fashion assistant GHYlEs OUAHMEd.

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Words by Peter PoPham Photography by GreG WhIte

Le Corbusier and Heidi Weber in 1960.

Š Rene BuRRi/MagnuM photos.

keeper of the flame 82 Baku.

The most influential architect of modern times, his closest confidante, and a curiously recalcitrant city authority. The true story of Le Corbusier’s greatest legacy is about to reach its denouement.

urely the greatest architect of the 20th century deserves no less: a museum dedicated to his life’s work, designed by himself, executed precisely according to his wishes, and occupying a prime site in the biggest city in his homeland. Yet the history of the museum, which Le Corbusier called La Maison d’Homme, has been a long and bitter struggle between the woman who conceived it and brought it to completion after his death – a designer and collector called Heidi Weber – and the Zurich city authorities. Where one would have expected a happy collaboration with the shared goal of honouring one of the most remarkable men in modern history, instead there have been decades of conflict, bad feelings and attrition. The museum still stands today, immaculately maintained and a fitting tribute to its architect; but except on special occasions its doors are closed to the public. The failure to make the most of what should be a major asset for the city is baffling. What went wrong? 83 Baku.

© Rene BuRRi/MagnuM photos.

Le Corbusier was the man who redefined the urban landscape around the world. From São Paulo to Moscow via Paris and London, the utopian modernism visible in sweeping cityscapes of tower blocks, concrete and glass walkways all owe their genesis to the revolution Le Corbusier begat in architecture. When he met Heidi Weber on the French Riviera in 1958, he was already the most famous – infamous in some circles – and influential architect in the world, unmistakable in his striped bow tie and owlish black spectacles. Weber was a furniture designer with her own modernist atelier in central Zurich; she ‘discovered Corbusier through his writings,’ she says, and fell in love with his paintings and graphic work, his furniture and his architecture. Her single-minded devotion to his legacy for the past half-century leads many to suppose that they must have been lovers. One year after the death of Yvonne, his

rather wild, alcoholic wife of 35 years, there was certainly a vacancy in his life, and Weber’s own marriage had ended in divorce many years before. But Weber firmly denies the gossip. ‘People always talk,’ she says. ‘If I had been his lover I would have said it, I would not have been ashamed. But it would have been a lie. The problem of people saying that is that society wants to undermine the work of a woman: to say that they are

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only capable through the bed, no? We had a friendship and a working relationship.’ The relationship began with his paintings, which she greatly admired, and progressed to his four revolutionary tubular steel chairs, which she displayed in her Zurich atelier, Mezzanin. But its consummation came with her idea of building a museum dedicated to his work on a prime piece of Zurich real estate, on the shores of the city’s lake. The architect took some convincing. Though Swiss by birth, like her, he had taken French citizenship many years before. Despite being world famous, with many buildings realized from Paris to Chandigarh in India to Tokyo, his stature was slow to be recognized in Switzerland: ‘No man is a prophet in his own land,’ as Weber remarks. Four plans for buildings in Zurich during the 1930s had come to

nothing, leaving him frustrated and bitter. So his response to Weber’s museum proposal was tart. ‘No, I won’t do anything more for the Swiss,’ he told her. ‘They have never been nice to me.’ When she persisted, he warned her: ‘You are going to have problems with your Swiss.’ No truer word was spoken. Yet at the beginning, Weber’s determination swept all before it. The city’s social democrat mayor, Emil Landolt, wrote to her enthusiastically soon after the project was conceived. ‘I want to inform you that I strongly approve of your idea of building a Corbusier structure [on the lakeshore],’ he declared. In 1963 Weber signed a contract with the city of Zurich, granting her a lease on the planned building for 50 years, after which ownership would revert to the city on payment of 70 per cent of the investment costs, which at the beginning were to be borne entirely by her. The contract came into force in 1964. But the first of many shadows to fall on the museum was already present. Next to the site allotted for the museum was a white-painted clapboard structure called the Haller Atelier, containing works and the archives of Hermann Haller, a Zurich

Opposite, from top: Le Corbusier, 1960; artworks by Le Corbusier on display in the house; the canopy-like roof. This page: Heidi Weber in the basement of La Maison d’Homme.

Her steely determination had been vital in bringing the building to fruition, and her refusal to tolerate the slightest deviation from Le Corbusier’s intentions means that it remains a faithful example of his work.

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sculptor. In his plans, Le Corbusier required that building to be removed, making space for a visitors’ car park and allowing the museum’s approach path to arrive directly at the front door. The demand did not seem unreasonable: the atelier was only a recent and provisional occupant of the site, having moved from another location. According to Weber, ‘Le Corbusier was verbally assured by the city councillors… that the rental agreement… would be terminated, and the studio relocated or demolished.’ This undertaking was repeated in a letter to her from the city in 1966. But after influential figures in Zurich’s cultural life, including the legendary novelist Hermann Hesse, signed a petition in 1967 demanding that the atelier be preserved, the city backed down. That U-turn set the tone for the dysfunctional relationship between Weber and the Zurich authorities which has prevailed ever since. Le Corbusier died of a heart attack while swimming in the sea in 1965, aged 78. Two years later, after bruising disagreements with the architects appointed to finish the job, three of whom Weber sacked after they tried to modify details of the original design, the Centre Le Corbusier was officially opened by Weber before a distinguished audience of architects and friends. She had sold her home and practically everything she possessed to bring it to completion; when money and credit finally ran out, she rescued it by auctioning some of her Le Corbusier paintings at Sotheby’s. But its initial success justified all the sacrifices: when it opened its doors to the public, 2,000 visitors streamed through, and in the first year 45,000 people from all over the world came to see it. The museum seemed set to become a big success and an illustrious addition to Zurich’s cultural skyline. But problems latent in the original contract soon made themselves felt. It was inconceivable that a museum such as this, with high running and maintenance costs, could make a profit, but nothing in the original contract obliged the city to contribute to its costs. By 1970 the museum was an established, undisputed success, with visitor figures in the thousands, but Weber could 86 Baku.

It has stood the test of time remarkably well; and for a late work it is a little masterpiece … a stimulating kind of temple to art. only continue to run it by selling off what remained of her collection of Le Corbusier paintings – something she refused to contemplate. To get her and the museum out of this fix, a number of high-profile Swiss rallied round, including the internationally renowned artist Gottfried Honegger and Max Frisch, author of celebrated plays such as The Fire-Raisers. They formed a patronage committee and launched a petition to request an annual subsidy from the city. But the councillors, possibly put off by Weber’s willingness to let the museum be used by students and intellectuals campaigning on left-wing issues in the spirit of 1968, refused the request. Instead, they proposed buying the museum from her, paying the cost of her initial investment, then leasing it back to her rent-free, while contributing a small sum – a mere one-tenth of the annual amount requested by the patronage committee – to offset the running costs. ‘I refused the offer on the grounds that the suggested contribution – 30,000 Swiss francs per year – would not solve the financial problem of holding exhibitions,’ Weber explains. To underline the museum’s international prestige, she informed them that ‘alternative bids by third parties – from Switzerland and other countries are being evaluated’. With hindsight, it was unfortunate that these proposals went nowhere. If Weber, supported by her friendly committee, had been able to negotiate the running cost subsidy upwards to a realistic figure, its future could have been assured and the glaring and fundamental problem that has dogged the museum ever since – its failure to open its doors regularly to the public – might have been resolved. Weber, however, as she had many times before and since, dug in her heels. The 87 Baku.

Le Corbusier with Albert Einstein, 1955.

It is remarkable that a man in his mid-70s should have been capable of conceiving something so playful and so original.

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© ullsteinbild/topfoto.

contribution the city had offered was not going to solve the museum’s financial problems. But even more than the sums involved, it was the stipulation about the museum’s activities which rankled: she would be allowed to continue to run the museum ‘provided the operation was not supported by circles that pursued goals or resorted to means that are inherently incompatible with the constitutional order of Switzerland’. With this threat of political censorship, the possibility of a constructive dialogue came to an end. And for the next 15 years the stalemate between Weber and the city led to the worst possible result – the museum’s frequent closures. As the wasted years rolled by, the jocular suggestion by Max Frisch in 1971 that the museum be dismantled and offered for sale in the columns of the New York Times began to seem a more reasonable solution than the miserable status quo. At this point the question arises – why was the city of Zurich unable to reach a compromise over a building that many other cities would have regarded as a major cultural asset, a way of enticing a regular flow of top-end tourists? The city was clearly aware of the problem: they tried four more times to persuade Weber to sell up. In the literature she has published about the saga, in particular her pamphlet entitled ‘An Explosive Story – The City of Zurich and Le Corbusier’s Last Building’, she paints herself as a lonely, embattled victim of philistine and predatory conservative politicians, fundamentally out of sympathy with her and her museum. And indeed the refusal of the authorities to do anything about the Haller Atelier, which blighted the museum’s opening and even today prevents visitors approaching it from an appropriate angle, suggests that no-one in authority fully understood the building’s importance. Yet it is hard to resist the conclusion that Weber’s own refusal to bend was part of the problem. Her steely determination had been vital in bringing the building to fruition, and her refusal to tolerate the slightest deviation from Le Corbusier’s intentions means that it remains a very faithful example of his work. But that same steeliness became an impediment once it was open. As an insider (who asked not to be named) remarked: ‘With Mrs Weber, it’s always the same, for many years. The first contact is very good, but then when it comes to the details, her unhappiness grows… The museum is the work of a lifetime, it’s like her child.’ Once the financial challenges of the museum became too much for her, the first priority should have been to do whatever was necessary to keep it open. Instead the indifference and parsimony of the city met the steely possessiveness of Heidi Weber, and no compromise was possible. The loser, for all these years, has been the general public. The long-running feud between Weber and the city of Zurich would be merely a shabby story of obstinacy and parochialism were the building not so good. But it is stunning. And that propels the story to another level. The last building Le Corbusier designed is so light it practically dances, even in the 89 Baku.

He said: “You don’t know what you risk with steel.” I replied: “I am very aware that I am risking everything with you. Let’s do it in steel.” dull light of the autumn afternoon on which I visit. It is remarkable that a man in his mid-70s, not far from the end of his life, should have been capable of conceiving something so playful and so original. In the museum we see the mature realization of many of Le Corbusier’s revolutionary ideas – but it also marks a fresh start. With its capricious inversions and zigzag angles, the steel roof seems as light as an origami paper sculpture. The main structure of the building, meanwhile, has the temporary, ad hoc look of a set of child’s building blocks. Formally speaking it is composed entirely of cubes, their slender steel frames enclosing big plate glass windows or enamelled steel plates coloured in the bright primary colours Le Corbusier favoured –‘like a monumental Mondrian,’ as Weber puts it. The cubes are neatly aligned in rows two high, but there is little in the design to suggest that this is more than a temporary arrangement. The whole ensemble is less like a conventional building than an assembly of transparent modular shipping containers under a temporary canopy. All this was new – new in Le Corbusier’s work, and new in the thinking of modern architects. Most of Le Corbusier’s greatest works, from the Unité d’habitation in Marseille (1945) to the Ronchamp chapel (1950–5) and the posthumously completed Firminy church (1960–2006), are strikingly monumental, even sculptural, emphatically solid and permanent. The idea that a building could be not merely light in appearance – echoing Buckminster Fuller’s famous question, ‘how much does your building weigh?’ – but also ephemeral, casual, contingent, temporary in appearance: this was new in his practice, even if it was implied by his famous description of a house as ‘a machine for living in’. This deliberately cultivated appearance of ephemerality and contingency was years ahead of its time. The avant-garde British architect Peter Cook’s revolutionary idea of a ‘plug-in city’, a framework into which dwellings could be slotted in then slotted out again, was still in the future, while Kisho Kurokawa’s Nakagin Capsule Building in Tokyo, a development of that idea, would not be built until the 1970s. And here was the granddaddy of modernism doing it first, yet again. And it was not merely the look of it: all the main elements of La Maison d’Homme were indeed prefabricated in a factory, trucked to the site, then bolted together. ‘There are 22,000 bolts in the building,’ Weber informs me, with unfeigned glee. ‘It’s like Meccano, you know, it’s beautiful.’ Max Frisch’s idea of unbolting everything and selling the dismantled 90 Baku.

building to the highest American bidder was not entirely fanciful. Charles Jencks, the eminent American architectural critic, is impressed by the vigour and freshness of the design. ‘Although it is the product of his old age, it’s very youthful in feeling,’ he says, ‘partly because of Heidi Weber. And in its use of steel it anticipates by ten years the high-tech that became the British standard mode for late modernism. It has stood the test of time remarkably well; and for a late work it is a little masterpiece … a stimulating kind of temple to art.’ Le Corbusier’s reputation has taken a hammering since his death because of the way his love affair with concrete inspired thousands of lesser architects to litter the world’s cities with high-rise horrors. But unlike his slavish followers, he himself was far more poetic than dogmatic in the way he designed: all his great works are full of contradictions. The use of steel was the most innovative aspect of the building, and it took Le Corbusier a long time and several changes of heart before he committed himself to it. His first plans, produced in December 1961, were for a building in concrete. Then he changed his mind and re-drew it in steel and glass, before once again returning to concrete. ‘He said to me, let’s go back to concrete,’ Weber recalls. ‘So I said, “Mr Le Corbusier, I very much like steel, because steel is the material of the future.” So he said, “fine” – but then he came back once again and said, “Mrs Weber, I am going back to concrete, because with concrete you can change and repair it. You don’t know what you risk with steel: if there is something wrong, you cannot replace it.” So I said to him, “Mr Le Corbusier, I am very aware that I am risking everything with you. Let’s do it in steel”.’ So steel it was. Nearly 50 years on, Weber still guides visitors around the museum with an enthusiasm which has never palled. The detail is so wonderful, she says: the bold colours Le Corbusier chose to distinguish the functional elements – bright yellow for the specially designed, square electrical sockets – ‘like a modern sculpture, they’re fantastic’ – blue for the cold water pipes, red for the hot ones: the main

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himself was not immune from the sexism of the time. During one of their last meetings, he told Heidi that he had set up a foundation to look after his heritage. ‘I said, “Mr Le Corbusier, you gave me the contract to take care of your pictorial work for 30 years, I should be a member of this foundation.” And he said, “No, I will have no women in it”. He was, after all, a man of the 19th century. Women were servants – there was no emancipation at all.’ In the end, however, this woman came out on top, re-christening Le Corbusier’s La Maison d’Homme as the Heidi Weber Haus. For 50 years Weber has guided the standing vigilantly in the background while the bureaucrats and engineers and architects go to work on the Master’s plans. This is a woman who will not suffer traitors, her unsmiling expression suggests. Some of her collaborators couldn’t take it. ‘I don’t intend to be bossed about by a woman!’ one of her architects declared in a fury as he stormed off. That was a common sentiment fifty years ago. When the museum was inaugurated, Swiss women were still four years away from getting the vote. Even Le Corbusier

From top: Le Corbusier with the founder of the Bauhaus movement, Walter Gropius, 1955; with Pablo Picasso during the building of the Unité d’habitation in Marseille, 1949; in his studio in Paris, 1960; the distinctive rounded door to the roof; and (right) the neverused kitchen.

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museum, despite the challenges of running it with no financial support from the city, and despite what she interprets as a frosty, hostile, and sometimes even predatory attitude towards it and her on the part of a succession of city mayors. She might be forgiven for feeling a little jaded, but she denies it. ‘No, no. My great satisfaction is in the people who have visited the museum – at least two million of them, 50,000 per year, from all over the world. That’s what makes me happy, that is my work.’ But that satisfaction, too, will end soon: her 50-year lease on the site expires in May 2014, and she will lose control of the museum’s fate. What then? ‘It is thanks to Heidi Weber’s tenacity

and total commitment that this iconic building came to exist in the first place and be located where it currently is,’ observes art auctioneer Simon de Pury. ‘This building would be an invaluable addition for any institution focusing on art and architecture around the world. If it is to stay in Zurich all of this needs to be taken into account. A financially fair and non-confiscatory solution has to be found that does not take advantage of Heidi Weber’s immense financial sacrifices over the years,’ he adds. The city’s present regime insists that it is under no illusions about the museum’s importance, and fully intends to take good care of it once the title reverts to them. As far as the Zurich authorities are concerned, the many years of misunderstandings and bad feelings are water under the bridge – at least, that is how they would like it to be. When Corine Mauch was elected mayor of Zurich in May 2009 she wrote a letter to Weber acknowledging her work, the first such letter Weber had ever received. ‘I am aware,’ Mauch wrote, ‘that you have not always received the estimation that you and your unremitting efforts would have deserved. I therefore consider it a matter of importance to enter into a dialogue with you.’ The new mayor followed up this overture in the summer by paying a visit and presenting Weber with a bouquet. ‘She was the first office-holder to pay the museum a visit at the start of her time in office,’ Weber notes. It was a good beginning, and perhaps a sign that the long-stalled agreement would now finally be possible. Nathan Bachtold, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, told me: ‘When Mrs Weber’s lease expires, we would like to continue to have a museum there in the spirit of Le Corbusier and also in the spirit of Mrs Weber – to show the public what an asset we have in Zurich with the Le Corbusier house. We would like to establish a public foundation to run the building. One possibility is that Mrs Weber would have a place on the board. ‘Discussions on the future of the museum have already started. But after the discussions started we realized that there were different points of view. The main difference is that Mrs Weber would like us to donate the museum to her outright. But there would be no public interest in doing this, as the building will belong to the city. It would become a political issue,’ he warns.

© FLC/ADAGP, PAris AnD DACs, LonDon 2013. AkG-imAGes/Gert sChütz. © rene Burri/mAGnum Photos.

hot water pipe, 50cm wide, travels from the rooftop tank right down to the basement, accompanying the staircase, and is an architectural feature in its own right, anticipating the exposure of functional elements by high-tech architects such as Richard Rogers. There are the heavy wooden doors, curved like the doors of a ship, the immaculate and contemporarylooking kitchen which, Weber says, has never once been used. There is what she calls ‘this marriage’ of ramp and staircase, the only concrete elements. There is the craziest detail of the lot, a missing panel in the steel roof. ‘I said to him, “Don’t you think we should put a pane of glass here?” He refused, he insisted on leaving it open – and when it rains, it’s a sensation.’ There is something girlish about this energetic 86-year-old, still in love with the unique creation she brought into being. It is hard to connect her with the rather fierce figure in the museum’s catalogues, her hair cut in a severe 1960s bob, sleekly elegant in the sleeveless shift dress the Parisian couturier Courrèges designed for her,

From top: the final model for the house; and ‘Ozon’ (1957), a polychrome wood sculpture by Le Corbusier.

Weber’s camp, however, denies that she made such a request. ‘She proposed that the museum be donated to her existing Heidi Weber Foundation before the lease expires next year, and without payment of the 1 million-plus Swiss francs sum the city would have to pay her as indemnity,’ her son Bernard told me. ‘This would in fact save public money. But for bureaucratic reasons the city sees a problem in co-operating with a private foundation, a mechanism which works perfectly well with other museums in Switzerland, such as the [Fondation] Beyeler museum in Basel.’ At the time of writing, just months before Weber’s lease expires, agreement has yet to be reached, and her mistrust of the city’s true intentions

My great satisfaction is in the people who have visited the museum. That’s what makes me happy, that is my work. seems once again to have clouded the atmosphere. ‘Mrs Weber thinks that the city wants to turn the museum into a sort of party house, to hold lots of meetings and so on,’ Bachtold revealed. ‘This is absolutely not the case. We have no such plan. We are confident that we can convince her that we want the same thing as she does. We would like to keep it as it is, and open it to the public.’ What is clear is that the city holds the stronger hand. ‘From our point of view, the contract is bullet proof,’ says Bachtold in no uncertain terms. That means that in a very short time, Weber will lose the architectural masterpiece, ‘the work of a lifetime’. She seems resigned to the prospect. ‘Life is like that,’ she says, ‘and the whole world is getting crazier… I have other things that I will do.’ Does that mean she will just walk away from this astonishing building without a backward glance? Leave it in Zurich’s tender care? ‘I have a secret plan,’ she says with a mysterious smile. ‘They will be very surprised.’


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Arkady Novikov is Moscow’s restaurant king, his establishments celebrity magnets. Now he’s taking over London, with three restaurants and a private members’ club. Interview by natalie livingstone Portraits by giles PRiCe

rkady Novikov is not your typical Russian man of commerce. He is suave and stylish with artfully cropped hair, a self-deprecating manner and a Hollywood smile, which he flashes at me as we talk in his eponymous restaurant in London’s Berkeley Street. Novikov Restaurant & Bar is a sprawling leviathan of an eatery, an £8m space that opened in 2011 in the midst of the global economic crisis, its unashamed lavishness generating both applause and derision. It has three areas: one Asian and one Italian, while the third is an elegant, wood-panelled bar serving Russian snacks. A discreet private room, neatly tucked away, is where I imagine Arkady’s coterie of famous friends, who include Vladimir Putin and supermodel Naomi Campbell, might sink vodka shots and feast on sushi late into the night. It’s all a world away from his rather less privileged beginnings. His father, who worked in an engineering factory, left the family home when Arkady was very young leaving him to be raised by his mother, a kindergarten teacher. ‘After school I wasn’t able to enter into an institution or university,’ he tells me candidly. ‘My mum told me to go to a cookery school in the hope that it might help me to put on weight! The moment the first lesson started, my life changed dramatically. I was in my medium. I took to cooking like a fish in water.’ While he now caters for Russia’s elite,

his ambitions were rather more modest when he emerged from catering school. He was famously rejected from McDonald’s but, undeterred, worked his way up to be head chef at the Moscow outpost of the Hard Rock Café. In 1991, an impressed patron agreed to give him a $50,000 loan to set up his own restaurant. Sirena, specializing in fish and seafood, opened in Moscow in 1992. ‘I thought I was the bee’s knees and knew everything,’ he laughs. ‘I wasn’t a youngster but I still had a youngster’s attitude. The restaurant is still operational 20 years on and it is like a gift from above.’ Sirena was just the beginning. Novikov’s career has since followed an inexorably upward trajectory, shaping dining trends in Russia from the cheap and cheerful to the ultra-stylish and expensive. He founded the popular Russian food chain Yolki Palki, where customers can eat a decent, cafeteriastyle meal for the equivalent of $10. At the other end of the spectrum, he also created the concept of luxurious lounge dining including Vogue Café, Tatler Club and GQ Bar, all of which have opened in the past few years and remain among Moscow’s hottest venues. And he has just brought Novikov Restaurant & Bar to Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, hoping it will enjoy the same success as its London sister. Despite presiding over almost 60 establishments in Moscow and St Petersburg, Novikov was not content merely with being Russia’s restaurant king. In 2011 he made the leap to London, and after two short years has just opened his third restaurant there, with a private members’ club also in the pipeline. ‘I never think about opening more restaurants, it just happens that way,’ he laughs. ‘Estate agents call me with new buildings, I go and have a look – immediately I get a new idea and start making a restaurant.’ The small site he saw in Knightsbridge sparked the idea of creating ‘something between a restaurant and an affordable café’, and in April 2013 Brompton Asian Brasserie opened its doors to warm reviews. Like its swankier Mayfair sister, the menu is pan-Asian, offering everything from Singapore noodles to sashimi platters but, he says, ‘people expect variety from a brasserie’, so you can

Arkady Novikov photographed at the Gazelli Art House in London with Archaeology 2512 III (2012) by Recycle Group.

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Above and top right, the Italian dining room at Novikov Restaurant & Bar in London. Far right and below: seafood at Novikov Restaurant & Bar at the Ritz-Carlton Moscow.

I’ve had a lot of actors, musicians and presidents in my restaurants but all my guests, celebrities or not, are the same to me. be very serious – a serious restaurant would not suit that place,’ he adds, somewhat mysteriously. ‘The idea is that it is an old English house with a new owner, who is a modern man. It will have a small menu, very good wine, really good music and hopefully a good atmosphere.’ Specializing in fish, meat and game, Rextail is sure to generate the same buzz as his other restaurants. On any one night, you can find 96 Baku.

politicians, movie stars or sportsmen in his establishments – they are the place to be. ‘I’ve seen a lot of presidents in my restaurants, famous musicians and actresses,’ he confirms. Yet he takes this A-list influx in his stride. ‘All my guests, celebrities or not, are the same to me.’ He may have an easy-going manner, but this restaurateur means business. A notorious workaholic, he starts work at 10am and often does not return home before 11pm. ‘Unfortunately, that is the

restaurant schedule,’ he shrugs. ‘They are open very late. At one point my wife [Novikov has been married to Nadezhda Advokatova, owner of top Moscow florist Flower Studio 55, for 18 years] was not happy with that, and tried to convince me to get back home early. I said yes all the time, but I’m still trying. I’m doing my best.’ Professionally, at least, his best is more than good enough. Novikov holds a 50 per cent controlling stake in most of his establishments and works with a different consortium of business partners in each venture. Although he will not be drawn on revenues, in 2007 he sold his majority stake in Yolki Palki for an estimated $70m, while an article in Gourmet magazine five years ago suggested his business was making about $30m a year. So what is his recipe for success in such a competitive field? ‘Integrity and professionalism,’ he says instantly. ‘You have to be honest with your guests, full of

slava pozdnyakov. adrian houston. getty. rex. vladimir klyosov. ab photoworks. alan chapman/filmmagic.

also order burrata with puy lentils, or Iberico ham or even a cheeseburger. As he has proved at home, Novikov is comfortable operating across all price points and sees no conflict in flitting from caviar and champagne to doughnuts – he’s just been named as the franchise operator for the first Krispy Kreme outlet in Russia. He is, he admits, ‘not a serious person’. Indeed, his lurking sense of humour is evident when we talk about the third addition to his London portfolio, Rextail, which opened on Albemarle Street in late autumn. ‘We called it “tail” because the building is quite long,’ he quips. ‘The interior design will be quite interesting for Mayfair because it will not

Novikov Restaurant & Bar in London’s Mayfair is a regular haunt for A-listers, including (opposite) actors Cuba Gooding Jr and Russell Crowe, and (this page, clockwise from above) musicians Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal, Rihanna,, socialite Tamara Ecclestone, and singer Alexandra Burke. Novikov’s restaurants around the world include: (from top) Brompton Asian Brasserie in London, GQ Bar and Tatler Club, both in Moscow.

integrity with your employees and you have to be true to yourself. You need to realize what you can do and what you can’t. When there is a God’s grace, he will help you.’ His fortunes are not entirely down to divine intervention, however. He is known for his eagle-eyed attention to detail, making twice-monthly visits (‘once a month is not enough’) to every one of his establishments. But such commitment comes at a price. ‘I don’t really like going to my own restaurants,’ he confides, toying with a bracelet of large jade beads on his wrist, a lucky charm. ‘I’m unable to rest. My eyes are trained to look around for drawbacks and at any time I want to jump up and command or direct someone.’ So how does this self-confessed workaholic relax? Fortunately, Novikov’s success means he has an array of alluring options at his disposal. He can retreat to Villa Fontanelle, the late Gianni Versace’s Lake Como house which Novikov bought in 2006 for a reported £26m. He also has a home in Sardinia, from which has just returned. ‘I turned my phone off for ten days. There was absolutely no communication,’ he says, still shocked at having switched off so completely. ‘We swam, we sunbathed and we spent time with our friends. We also took a fishing trip to Alaska and visited the mountains where we

went rafting down the river and had Russian saunas.’ Opening restaurants in the UK has offered a myriad of new challenges for Novikov, which he relishes. ‘The most difficult thing about opening restaurants in any country is to find energetic, honest and professionally trained staff,’ he says. ‘In London you have more competitors, but you have more professionally trained personnel than in Russia. Another challenge was finding the right space in London – you need to spend lots of time to find a good location and you need to have luck.’ Novikov sounds sure of his strategy, but has he ever had any doubts that his ventures will succeed? ‘I think it’s a very stupid person who doesn’t have any doubts,’ he retorts. ‘You have to believe in what you do, but you always have to be in doubt. Doubt gives you the opportunity to think over and over about whether you’re moving in the right direction.’ The driving force behind his ambition remains his passion for food. ‘I’m always doing tastings… usually two or three times a week,’ he enthuses. ‘All my restaurants start with good food.’ Novikov reserves a special interest in Azerbaijani fare. ‘I love Azerbaijani cuisine as a whole. They have wonderfully colourful food with unmistakable flavours, for which many different herbs and spices are used,’ he explains. ‘I particularly enjoy dishes with aubergine and some of my other favourites include dushbara, qutabs, plov and kebabs. The tomatoes in all my restaurants are from Baku. I think all restaurants in Moscow use them.’ For someone who is clearly comfortable with revelling in the fruits of his hard work, I wonder how this ambitious Russian envisages his future. He flashes me yet another charming smile. ‘I enjoy my work and the financial results make me happy. I don’t know if I need to have 10 or 20 more restaurants. Every person has their own vision and with age this vision changes,’ he explains. ‘In five years’ time I just want to have one small restaurant somewhere and to be there in the kitchen, meeting guests and enjoying it. This is a dream but one day I hope to fulfil that.’ With a track record for realizing his dreams, my money is firmly on Novikov getting to that kitchen.


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Included in the exhibition ‘Utopia and Reality?’ at MAMM were ‘Proun’ (c. 1922–3) by El Lissitzky (below); ‘The Man Who Flew into Space from His Apartment’ (1985) by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov (top centre); and a collage of Soviet-era photographs (background). Below right: ‘Column of the Dynamo Sports Society, 1932’ (1935) by Alexander Rodchenko. Olga Sviblova at MAMM (top left), at home in Moscow (far right), and with artist Marc Quinn (bottom centre).

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he Multimedia Art Museum Moscow (MAMM) only opened a few years ago but so central has it become to the cultural life of the Russian capital, it’s hard to believe the ultramodern building on Ostozhenka Street has not always been there. Even more unthinkable would be the Moscow art scene without Olga Sviblova, the founder and director of MAMM, and curator of its meticulously planned and often off-beat shows. For 20 years Sviblova has been the driving force in the movement that has brought Russian photography back from oblivion and rehabilitated the country’s contemporary art scene. People had warned me that she would be terribly late for our interview, talk non-stop and smoke incessantly. But Sviblova tends to defy expectations. At the appointed hour on the dot, she appeared in the doorway of

ColleCtion van abbemuseum, eindhoven, the netherlands, photo peter Cox. © KrasilniKov stanislav/itar-tass photo/Corbis. © a. rodChenKo – v. stepanova arChive © mosCow house of photography. zinChenKo.

With her legendary stamina and dedication, Olga Sviblova is a driving force behind Russia’s contemporary art scene.

heroine Words by isabel gorst Portraits by JaMes hill

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her office at MAMM, slim and with her hair characteristically tied back in a ballerina’s bun. She was preceded by a glumlooking young man who, after plonking a Prada rucksack on the table, beat a hasty retreat. Pale and drawn, Sviblova staggered across the room in platform shoes and slumped into a chair beside what, as later became clear, was her favourite art possession – a prancing black panther pouring clouds of steam from a shocking pink watering can. Flustered assistants came to the rescue bringing tea, honey and coal tablets – a popular Russian remedy for nausea – all the while debating out loud what could be wrong with Sviblova. Eventually a diagnosis was agreed upon: she had chewed too much nicotine gum. So no cigarettes and no question of postponing the meeting, either. By the following evening, however, she was back on form. Dressed elegantly in black and wearing her trademark chunky jewellery, she seemed to be in her element hosting a birthday party for Erik Bulatov, the Russian artist, in MAMM’s spacious foyer. Gliding among the guests with a vast bouquet of sunflowers thrown over her shoulder, she appeared more the perfect society hostess than hard-nosed promoter. Bulatov, who is 80, was, in his younger days, one of a number of artists, including Ilya Kabakov and Oskar Rabin, affiliated with the Moscow Conceptualist movement whose art was frowned upon by Soviet officials. But today, due in large part to Sviblova’s dedication, the work of these artists is now recognized as the foundation of contemporary art in Russia. Sviblova’s stamina is legendary. When not organizing

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and curating exhibitions at MAMM, she is out visiting art shows in the city, socializing with high-profile sponsors or promoting touring Russian art shows in the regions and abroad. ‘I have no choice but to be public and see the maximum amount of people,’ she says. ‘Art changes the way you are. It helps me live and I have an instinct to share it.’ The daughter of a rocket scientist and a teacher, Sviblova grew up in Moscow during the short-lived political thaw that followed the death of Josef Stalin. Although the new Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev oversaw a period of comparative freedom, her earliest memories are of her family’s fear of repression. Although photography was later to become her passion, Sviblova saw little of it while she was growing up, not even family photographs. Her grandmother had destroyed all photos of the family’s past, terrified that any visual proof of their privileged existence before the Russian revolutions could lead to draconian punishments. ‘In books at school the only photos we saw were Stalin and Lenin sitting on a bench or the Bolsheviks storming the Winter Palace – images lifted straight out of [Sergei] Eisenstein’s propaganda film [October, 1928],’ she recalls.

This page: works at the ‘Utopia and Reality?’ exhibition, with (above) paintings from the ‘Holidays’ (1987) series by Ilya Kabakov and (right) ‘The Man Who Flew into Space from His Apartment’ (1985) by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. Below: visitors at the retrospective of Bryan Adams’s photographs at MAMM, 2012. Below left: Olga Sviblova with Erik Bulatov at the artist’s birthday party.

anton galetsky. zinchenko. © fadeichev sergei/itar-tass photo/corbis. © a. rodchenko – v. stepanova archive © moscow house of photography. collection ilya and emilia kabakov, new york, photo igoris markovas.

Education was a priority in the household. Sviblova won a place to study psychology at the prestigious Moscow State University, which she followed later with a doctorate in the psychology of art. Degrees such as these could have opened the door to a comfortable whitecollar job. But Sviblova would not settle for that. This was the time of the so-called Era of Stagnation when the Soviet Union, under the rule of the ageing Leonid Brezhnev, began to lose its way. ‘Everything was pointless,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t sit around in an institute sipping tea all day. I like doing things where I can see results.’ Like most girls of her generation, Sviblova married

Art changes the way you are. It helps me live and I have an instinct to share it.

This page, top left: ‘Girl with a Leica’ (1934) by Alexander Rodchenko; top right: ‘Landscape with Mountains’ (1989) by Ilya Kabakov; above: Olga Sviblova at home in Moscow.

young. Together with her husband Alexei Parschikov, a poet, and a group of friends she took a job as a street sweeper in Izmailovsky Park in north-east Moscow and spent six happy years working out of doors. ‘We lived parallel lives [with the system]. They let us set our own schedule so we had fresh air and exercise and freedom. It was wonderful.’ Sviblova admits she’s drawn to people who are a ‘bit different’ and don’t necessarily conform. So it was natural that, noticing an eccentric, scruffy-looking man hurrying along the street one day, she made bold and asked where he was going. That encounter led to the discovery of a group of unofficial artists working in a basement in the city beyond the gaze of the authorities. Captivated by the scene, she offered to help organize exhibitions, not for commercial gain, but for the fun of it. A new world opened up after 1991 when the Soviet Union fell apart. Sviblova and her first husband divorced and she married Olivier Morane, a French insurance broker. ‘These were the first years of the new Russia, and the country was thinking about its future,’ she says. ‘If we were to move forward it was extremely important to understand and come to terms with our history.’ She began exploring photography and was soon hooked. What struck her particularly was photography’s role as a documentary witness of life in the Soviet era that the communist authorities had sought to gloss over or conceal from view. Around this time, when Sviblova was spending time in Paris, she bumped into a delegation from Moscow city hall who were visiting Paris to seek help in organizing a photography festival in the Russian capital. They asked her to interpret but soon she was managing the entire project. Looking back, Sviblova acknowledges that she underestimated the immensity of the task. There were no photography institutes in Russia, no funding and, perhaps most daunting of all, no obvious public. Using a computer and fax donated by her husband, 101 Baku.

Sviblova began preparing the ‘Forgotten History’ exhibition from her two-room communal flat in Moscow where, as she puts it, ‘there was hardly room to get dressed’. Mercifully, photographs were still inexpensive to buy in Russia and cost less to transport and insure than other art forms. Gradually collectors and archivists emerged from the shadows and Sviblova began piecing together a collection of Russian and foreign photographs. When the exhibition finally opened in 1996, it included a range of works that encompassed the whole breadth of photographic history from daguerreotypes to renowned avant-garde images by Russian artists Alexander Rodchenko and El Lissitzky to later works by Soviet pictorialists Yuri Yeremin, Nikolai Andreyev and Alexander Grinberg, whose nude portraits landed him in a gulag in the 1930s on charges of pornography. ‘Forgotten History’ was originally conceived as a one-off event and a risky one at that. But coming at a time when Russia was throwing off the shackles of the Soviet era and reinventing itself, the exhibition generated enormous interest and put photography at the centre of the new cultural map. It was decided to give the collection a permanent home at the Moscow House of Photography, opening in 1996. It wasn’t long, however, before Sviblova was looking for larger premises to indulge her new interest in interactive video art and to show contemporary paintings, sculpture and installations as well. She set her heart on the site on Ostozhenka Street, not far from the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in an area that eventually became

Clockwise from bottom left: ‘Der Konstrukteur (Selbstporträt)’ (1924) by El Lissitzky; ‘The Fallen Angel’ (1997) by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov; ‘Stairs’ (1930) by Alexander Rodchenko; installation view of ‘Utopia and Reality?’; ‘16 Ropes’ (1986) by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov; Olga Sviblova with Rodchenko’s portrait of Osip Brik (1924) at the Hayward Gallery, London, 2008. In background: ‘Cloud’ (2012) by Marc Quinn, in his show ‘The Big Wheel Keeps on Turning’ at MAMM, 2012.

I couldn’t sit around in an institute sipping tea all day. I like doing things where I can see results.

known to eager estate agents as Moscow’s ‘Golden Mile’. Before leaving Moscow to go on holiday she scribbled a note to the city authorities asking for permission to build a museum, fully expecting that the request would get bogged down in bureaucratic red tape. To her surprise a reply came back within a fortnight – she could go ahead. Finally, in 2010, MAMM opened its doors in an ultra-modern, seven-floor building that includes 9,000sq m of exhibition space, archives, a school of photography named after Rodchenko and a warren 102 Baku.

of administrative offices where Sviblova works alongside the steaming black panther. When we met, Sviblova was in the throes of organizing one of the most ambitious exhibitions ever staged at MAMM, called ‘Utopia and Reality?’, a joint show of works by Lissitzky and the husband and wife duo Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. Understandably, she was not pleased to be interrupted when an official from the Moscow fire brigade arrived uninvited, demanding a safety inspection of MAMM’s premises. Inspectors are used to getting what they want in Moscow and most people don’t bother to resist. But Sviblova is very determined and has the skills of a master tactician. Charming but firm, she had persuaded the inspector, in

ColleCtion van abbemuseum, eindhoven, the netherlands, photo peter Cox. anton galetsky. © a. rodChenko – v. stepanova arChive © mosCow house of photography. nils Jorgensen, rex.

four minutes flat, to hold off on the inspection until the ‘Utopia and Reality?’ show was up and running. Timed to coincide with the fifth Moscow Biennale, ‘Utopia and Reality?’ ran from September to November 2013 and contrasted the euphoria of the early Soviet era with its later disappointment – themes that colour so much of Sviblova’s artistic thinking. It included a number of important Kabakov works on loan from private collectors, a testament, wrote Ruth Addison, a British art historian and curator who lives in Moscow, to Sviblova’s reputation as ‘a networker extraordinaire’. It is major exhibitions of this kind that are keeping MAMM one of Moscow’s most visited museums, even as new cultural venues pop up across the city thanks to an unprecedented level of funding from City Hall. Among Sviblova’s favourites is the recently opened Centre for Documentary Film cinema on Zubovsky Boulevard, housed in a 19th-century former army provisions warehouse. Not far away, on the other side of the Moscow River in Gorky Park, is the Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture in its new home, and Garage founder Dasha Zhukova has invited the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas to convert a Soviet-era cafe into a new arts pavilion for 2014. While Moscow is the epicentre of Russian cultural life, Sviblova is determined to take exhibitions to the regions and spread the word about photography and contemporary art. ‘It’s as if someone has never tried an oyster,’ she says. ‘You tell them it’s quite delicious and also good for you.’ She also takes an interest in cultural developments in former Soviet countries, lending her considerable support to the ‘Fly to Baku’ travelling exhibition of Azerbaijani contemporary art, which was staged at MAMM in early 2013. Sviblova’s hectic schedule keeps her apart much of the time from her husband who

works in Paris. But the couple always spend summer holidays together in the Camargue in southern France where Morane bought a ‘plot of land in a bog’ a few years ago. ‘For three weeks each August I sleep and live amid nature and plants. It’s my favourite time of year.’ But really her life is about work. ‘It’s a mission I suppose,’ she says. This dedication has most recently been recognized by the Montblanc Cultural Foundation, which announced Sviblova as the Russian winner of its annual Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award for 2013. The judges praised her ‘enormous contribution to the development of modern photography in Russia,’ calling her ‘the driving force of the powerful process of cultural development both at the national and international levels.’ At the ceremony in September she pledged to use her €50,000 prize to fund three new exhibitions at MAMM – Sviblova is not a woman who rests on her laurels. ‘You hope you change things,’ she says. ‘People can change in a big way.’


103 Baku.

Port Baku Towers and residences feature new restaurants from uberdesigner Henry Chebaane.

Blue Sky 104 Baku.

Henry Chebaane has created some of the world’s finest dining spaces in which art and design come together in a single entrancing narrative. Now, he brings his considerable talents to new developments in Baku. Words by CLAIRE WRATHALL Photography by EMIL KHALILOV

Thinking 105 Baku.

Clockwise from top: the second floor of Baku Café; the hall of Sahil restaurant; the high walls of Baku Café are for displaying artworks.

f evidence were needed that Henry Chebaane is a man in demand, it is that last year his studio turned away 47 projects. Though the designer and creator of restaurants employs 24 staff, there is, he says, ‘only one of me. People say, “why don’t you hire more people?” But I can’t duplicate myself. Otherwise I’d become like a big firm. To do what I do well, you have to give your soul to it, so you can’t just expand.’ Chebaane is the French-born founder of London-based Blue Sky Hospitality, which he calls an ‘experiential design studio’ and which provides ‘holistic’ conception, design and development of restaurants, bars and hotels. He doesn’t simply decide on the look of a place: ‘I’m not a decorator,’ he says. ‘I don’t find nice fabrics, though I’ve got people to do that.’ Rather he dreams up the entire package: the theme, the name, the branding, the vibe, the graphics, the lighting, the menu, the playlist… He’ll identify a client’s ideal demographic and set about creating a venue to which customers will want to flock, taking care of every detail from predicting the footfall to sourcing the flatware and even, should the client so wish, to recruiting the chef and the maître d’. Since founding Blue Sky Hospitality in 2002, Chebaane has created almost 200 restaurants, bars and clubs across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and, more recently, Asia, for clients such as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, InterContinental Hotels and Marriott International. 106 Baku.

The place, however, on which he’s made perhaps the largest impression is Baku, where over the past five years he has worked on more than a dozen projects; first was the Japanese restaurant Zakura in 2009, followed by Chinar and then the three restaurants that comprise the Sahil Dining Centre on the Bulvar. This year has been largely devoted to five new restaurants on Fashion Avenue in the redeveloped Port Baku area. One of them, Baku Café, was inspired by this very magazine, with lofty seven-metre-high walls hung with contemporary art commissioned from local artists so that when it opens in March 2014, it will seem, in Chebaane’s words, ‘more like an art gallery than a cafe’. It’s little wonder Chebaane was keen to have such a presence in the Port Baku development. When it opens this spring, it’s set to become the city’s premier luxury address, featuring flagship stores from the world’s leading fashion brands and exclusive apartments whose residents will have access to a 3,000sq m luxury leisure club and spa, also designed by Chebaane. With the launch of his Port Baku projects imminent, however, the focus of his attention has now turned to the White City development, where he’s transforming a former power station complex into three destination restaurants and a nightclub (with names such as Powerhouse, Enerji and Black Diamond). On his books as well are two forthcoming boutique hotels in Baku: one a transformation of the former Intourist Hotel, which was the first to open in Azerbaijan in the 1930s; the other a conversion of the Art Deco Dynamo sports club. And he’s also planning a sophisticated,

if essentially rustic, mountain restaurant close to the ski resort of Shahdag. Chebaane first went to Baku five years ago at the invitation of the building conglomerate Pasha Construction, which had acquired the site on which Chinar now stands and wanted to build a restaurant-cumnightclub there. He ‘really liked’ what he found, ‘the people and the city,’ which he explored ‘on foot because it’s not just about seeing somewhere – I like to be able to hear and smell things. It’s important to discover a place with your eyes closed as well as with them open.’ His brief had been to come up with a version of London’s Hakkasan or Nobu. ‘But after 24 hours in Baku, I said why would you want to do that? Why not do something original, that you own not just physically but spiritually and intellectually?’ There was so much to find inspiration in, he adds, not least Baku’s strategic location as a trading hub on the Silk Route from China, as well as in its Old City. ‘I want to have heritage in everything we do

Clockwise from top: Chinar restaurant interiors and the man who designed them, Henry Chebaane; the dining room at Tosca.

and to anchor it in the local culture,’ he adds, ‘but without making it look like a museum.’ Chinar, which opened in March 2010, was a revelation: a sleek contemporary, bi-level, pan-Asian restaurant run, in its opening months, by Gordon Ramsay’s former restaurant director Jean-Baptiste Requien, with DJs from St-Tropez’s Les Caves du Roy and Paris’s Buddha-Bar and, in deference to the original brief, a kitchen brigade from the original Hakkasan. Since then, Chebaane continues, he’s had ‘calls from people in Abu Dhabi and Qatar wanting to take a licence on Chinar or buy a franchise. But that’s not how I operate,’ he says. ‘It wasn’t meant to be a chain; it is just a one-off, something quintessentially Azerbaijani. Still, it is the best compliment you can get.’ In any case, he says, Chinar takes its name from the Azerbaijani word for an oriental flowering plane tree (Platanus orientalis), a stand of which has shaded the site for centuries, rooting, as it were, the restaurant to its location. It simply wouldn’t have that sense of place elsewhere. Trees, it turns out, are something of a passion and an inspiration. In Paris, he created

the Makassar Lounge on the avenue de Wagram, named after Makassar ebony (Diospyros celebica), a species of flowering tree that grows on the island of Sulawesi, which was the first restaurant in France to offer classic French bistro cooking alongside Indonesian dishes. And in Stockholm, the Björk Bar & Grill at the Marriott was his creation. Björk means birch tree in Swedish, hence the ‘virtual forest’ of closely packed silver-birch trunks that panel one wall and the presence of an utterly delicious sparkling birch-sap wine on the menu. ‘I just love nature in general,’ he enthuses. ‘We are sustained by our planet, but we don’t give it enough credit. I’m not an ecologist, but I am acutely aware that everything comes back to nature and we are only alive because the planet allows us to be. Nature is all around us and it’s my greatest source of inspiration.’ Perhaps to compensate for the intensely urban, treeless location of his King’s Road office in London, a wood-scented Diptyque ‘Feu du Bois’ candle burns as we speak. Animal life is also present in

I am acutely aware that everythIng comes back to nature and we are only alIve because the planet allows us to be. nature Is all around us and It’s my greatest source of InspIratIon.

107 Baku.

the form of two enchanting 20-month-old border terriers sleeping contentedly at our feet. There are trees in evidence at his other Baku ventures, too. Take Pasifico, the lounge bar and restaurant located on the top floor of the Sahil restaurant complex – a sea-facing landmark building by the Turkish architects Erginoglu & Calislar. Here the inspiration came from the Amazonian cloud forest. Emerald glass mosaics give the lighting a warm but oddly viridian hue, and columns of coconut and palm wood conjure a sense of densely planted trees through which exotic birds and butterflies appear to flit, thanks to what he calls ‘complex lighting effects scenography’. The menu, needless to say, runs to ceviches, anticuchos (Andean stewed meat), empanadas, Argentinian steak and Peruvian sushi and sashimi, more correctly known as tiradito, and there’s a drinks list of Chilean piscos and cachaças, the Brazilian liquor distilled from sugar cane. On the ground floor of the same building he put an Italian restaurant, Tosca, where the spacious terrace is planted with fig, olive and cypress trees, to evoke the Tuscan and Umbrian countryside which inspired the earthy colour scheme and palette of different woods. The storey between the two ‘was always going to be a difficult space’, he concedes. The solution was to make it a destination restaurant that Baku’s beau monde could not resist. ‘A classic that will last forever, serving the finest Azerbaijani cuisine,’ is how Chebaane describes Sahil, as it is named. Sahil means, in fact, coast or shoreline, which the restaurant reflects with exotica such as whale vertebrae and the savagely serrated, horn-like rostrum of a sawfish. Chebaane’s tastes are nothing if not varied, as indeed his career has been. After art

Top and inset: Pasifico bar and dining areas. Below and inset: Madison restaurant is inspired by ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. Bottom: the Moorish-Andalusian design of the dining room at Movida.

school in Paris, he secured an 18-month internship at Pierre Cardin in 1983. ‘Cardin has always been very eclectic in what he does,’ says Chebaane. ‘Furniture, cakes, flower arrangements... I don’t know that there is anything you can touch or consume that he hasn’t designed. He had this place called Espace Pierre Cardin at the bottom of the ChampsElysées, and it was basically a kind of creative lab. There was 108 Baku.

a catwalk in the middle of the space, a small theatre and auditorium, various spaces for exhibitions. One day someone would be making origami, the next someone would be throwing stuff at the wall for art’s sake, or bashing metal into something… It was an education.’ Chebaane’s role was unpaid, so to support himself he waited tables at Maxim’s, which Cardin had acquired in 1981. This gave him an instinctive understanding of how restaurants ‘flow’ and function – practical experience he put to very good use later.

My role is to curate, to try to express a narrative in a language everyone can understand. it’s like a book you can dip into. you don’t need to read it froM beginning to end. you can just look at different chapters.

Below: The esplanade outside Port Baku Towers and residences. Left: the main hall of the Harbour restaurant.

By the late 1980s, he had moved to London and was working for Terence Conran’s restaurant group – he mentions Bluebird, Le Pont de la Tour, Gastrodome, Sartoria, Orrery, Coq d’Argent – after which he joined the Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge as hotel manager, before moving to work for Anouska Hempel, latterly as general manager of The Hempel hotel, her now-closed temple to blanched minimalism in west London. There he pioneered, among other things, selling a wide range of good wines by the glass, something we may take for granted now but which was still a rarity a decade ago. Around this time, Scandinavian minimalist design was the aesthetic craved by interior designers, but, even though Ikea was already established in the UK, there was nowhere to buy expensive Nordic design. So Chebaane opened a shop in Brompton Road, and then another in Walton Street: ‘We basically introduced Scandinavian luxury to the British market.’ But it was a steep learning curve: ‘Retail is a real challenge because every day you can measure your success by how good your display is, your merchandise.’ And ultimately that was not what he wanted to focus on. The consultancy he founded to replace his shops seemed the logical way to combine and exploit all the vicarious experience he’d acquired to date. 109 Baku.

Which brings us back to the gleaming towers of Port Baku. Chebaane has spent the past year overseeing the five restaurants he’s created for Fashion Avenue there. First, there is Madison, which sits at the Port Baku South Tower and takes New York as its starting point with light fittings made from reclaimed Walk/Don’t Walk pedestrian signs – he baulks at the word ‘theme’ but admits ‘it’s very Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. He has continued to look stateside for the design of the bar and grill called Harbour, which Chebaane describes as ‘more of an

there isn’t a beginning or an end when it comes to creating an experience. after-work place, quite dark and masculine and machine-like’. In order to create its dominating art installation, he ‘collected more than 500 nuts and bolts in the old shipyard. Each one is different and now they are bolted on the walls. We’ve got a major art piece at zero cost.’ Then there’s Movida, ‘inspired by the art movements in Madrid in the late ’70s’, as well as mavericks such as the Surrealist film director Luis Buñuel and artist Salvador Dalí, though equally there are elements of Moorish-Andalusian design, so ‘it can play on the Hispanic register, but also the oriental one’. But one senses the project he is most proud of is Masu, a white-on-white Japanese restaurant ‘named after the boxes they use in Japanese markets to measure rice’. As an image, a masu resonates on several levels: ‘Rice is everywhere in Azerbaijan,’ he says. ‘Look at all the plov that is eaten.’ And it also symbolises generosity as there is a tradition in Japan of serving sake in them. ‘They put a cup inside a masu, then pour the sake till it overflows the cup and fills the box as well, so you pay officially for one glass, but you get two.’ Sake will be served in this way at Masu, for he’s ordered 1,000 such boxes from a manufacturer in Japan, made from a fragrant wood known as hinoki (or Japanese Cypress), and exquisitely crafted with dovetail joints to obviate the need for nails or glue. Talking to Chebaane, you get the sense 110 Baku.

that he is truly a man for whom God is in the details. ‘I’m a big proponent of semiotics,’ he says in a way that only a Frenchman can get away with without seeming pretentious. ‘My role is to curate, to try to express a narrative in a language everyone can understand – if they want to. It’s like a book you can dip into. You don’t need to read it from beginning to end. You can just look at different chapters, or read it in reverse.’ He is also, he explains, a great believer in synaesthesia. ‘Sounds express colours, and colours communicate sounds and aromas. We try to make rational sense out of what we perceive through seeing and hearing and tasting and smelling, but it’s not as simple as that. Really the brain synthesises all these sensations at once. What you’re sitting on, or where your feet are can have as much influence on how you perceive wherever you are as what you see and hear. I think it’s important to try to understand that there isn’t really a beginning or an end when it comes to creating an experience. It’s more like what the Germans call a Gesamtkunstwerk, a total work of art.’ A synthesis of all the senses, if you will, all of which come in to play whenever you go out to eat.


Clockwise from bottom left: the glittering spectacle of Port Baku Towers and residences. Far left, views of Masu restaurant, including the handmade wooden statuettes.

111 Baku.


forward to the new avant garde! CuLturaL MrI Seoul uncovered.

heart & souL Noise is art.

MeMe To curate or invest?

ars Longa Private sales take over.

sCI-art The physics of ballet.


1 Cultural MrI

Andy St Louis introduces the South Korean capital’s thriving arts scene.


here is a building in the heart of Seoul that, more than any other, embodies South Korea’s dynamic blend of past, present and future. The dynamically curved glass wall of the new City Hall, designed by the local architectural firm iArc, resembles a massive wave swelling as it gathers momentum to surge thirteen storeys upward as if to engulf the stone-built prison-like structure at its foot – the city’s original City Hall, a 1926 building erected during the Japanese occupation of Korea. The power and force of Seoul’s towering new biomimetic landmark exudes a sense of barely-restrained energy about to be unleashed upon the city’s

113 Baku. Eye.

114 Baku. Eye.

opened in 1998, the museum consistently mounts exhibitions of the biggest names in Korean art and has helped launch the careers of numerous others. Kim and other curators of her generation have been key both in developing Korean contemporary art locally and promoting its virtues abroad. ‘Probably the biggest factors in the emergence of Korean art worldwide are the talented curators and critics who are making names for themselves at respected institutions abroad and who are able to exert their influence overseas,’ reflects Lee. ‘What’s more, most of the successful Korean artists today have studied abroad, which is of great importance for creating a broader-minded artistic community in Seoul; artists who can be real players in the global art scene.’ Indeed, globalization is a relevant buzzword that may be invoked as part of the explanation for Seoul’s new role as an international art destination. Backing up this notion are organizations like Korean Artist Project, a statesponsored online platform that serves to introduce Korean contemporary artists to a global audience. It seems Seoul’s gathering wave can only grow stronger and stronger. Like the new City Hall building at Seoul’s urban core, Korean art has arrived as a force to be reckoned with.


REX. © DaviD HaRDing/alamy. aFP/gEtty. © viEW PictuREs ltD/alamy. REX. © gavin HElliER/alamy.

bustling urban centre. It is a symbol, not only of a forwardlooking Seoul, but of a local art scene poised on the cusp of greatness. Art is thriving in Seoul, and it shows no signs of letting up. In contrast to the Chinese contemporary art bubble of the early 2000s, South Korean art has enjoyed a steady, gradual rise in international standing, with Seoul as its dynamic and undisputed centre. In this fastpaced and densely populated metropolis (nearly one half of the nation’s entire population lives in the Seoul Capital Area), art and design hold their own amidst the country’s technology-obsessed society, buoyed up by widespread popular support, sophisticated exhibition venues and an abundance of available funding. ‘The appreciation of contemporary visual culture in general has really blossomed during the last decade in a way that is truly tangible,’ says Pat Lee, director of One and J. Gallery. One of the top commercial galleries to emerge

in post-millennium Seoul, One and J. leads a crop of new art spaces that have popped up in the capital in recent years, committed to developing the market for young and emerging artists. This shift in sensibility among Seoulites, as noted by Lee, is the product of one person’s eforts more than any other: former Seoul mayor Oh Se-hoon, the man responsible for the capital’s new City Hall. During his tenure from 2006 to 2011, Oh pursued a development-oriented agenda aimed at recasting the city as an art- and culture-friendly destination, undertaking huge renewal projects such as the so-called Han River Renaissance, which has transformed the river that bisects the city into a destination in its own right with vibrant waterfronts peppered with lush parks, abundant recreational facilities and impressive cultural venues such as the floating islands of Banpo Hangang Park. The stunning (though controversial) Dongdaemun Design Plaza by Zaha Hadid is another brainchild of the former mayor, situated near the city’s old East Gate and revitalizing the city’s traditional market district. The project given the go-ahead by Oh which promises to have the greatest efect on Seoul’s art scene, however, is a much more modest design yet makes up for this by virtue of its prime location in the heart of the city’s Bukchon gallery district in the Samcheong-dong neighbourhood. The new Seoul branch of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) – the third location for Korea’s state-run MMCA system – only opened its doors to the public in November this year but is already bringing new life to the area. Chu-young Lee, curator at MMCA, anticipates that the new museum branch will ‘further invigorate the neighbouring private museums and galleries, ultimately leading to the formation and expansion of an unprecedented large-scale “cultural and artistic belt” in the area, with MMCA as the symbolic space for the Korean art scene.’ This new museum complex demonstrates the amount of public funding being diverted to Korea’s creative sector and augurs well for the future of the arts in Seoul. Public support notwithstanding, it is corporate funding that forms the backbone of the art scene in Seoul, with many of the chaebol (family-run corporate conglomerates) underwriting some of the city’s premier museums. Samsung, ever the over-achiever, owns two separate museums, with Leeum in central Seoul as its crown jewel; not only is its collection absolutely first-rate, so are its facilities, including three buildings designed by Mario Botta, Jean Nouvel and Rem Koolhaas. Other chaebols such as Daelim, Kumho, SsangYong and Dong-A have all built museums as well, although Daewoo’s Artsonje Centre (which now operates independently from the corporation) is by far the best of the bunch. Under the direction of Sunjung Kim since it

Previous page: New City Hall. This page, clockwise from top: Dongdaemun Design Plaza; Hangang River floating island; Suh Do-Ho’s installation ‘Home within Home’ at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; Leeum Museum 2; view from the reception of the One and J. Gallery; the terrace of New City Hall with green wall of live plants. Background: view of Seoul’s old and new city halls and Seoul Plaza.

names to know

places to go

1 Sunjung Kim Director of Samuso: Space for Contemporary Art, former commissioner of the Korean Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale (2005), and co-artistic director of the 9th Gwangju Biennale (2012). She is Seoul’s most influential and wellconnected curator and has been fundamental in bringing the current crop of leading Korean contemporary artists to the global stage.

1 national muSeum of modern and Contemporary art (mmCa) The city’s newest art museum, open since November 2013. One of three locations in the state-run contemporary art museum system, its park-like campus in the heart of Samcheong-dong forms the long-anticipated cornerstone of the area’s renowned gallery district.

2 Heejin Kim Director of Art Space Pool and a major proponent of Korean art abroad. A constant fixture at high-profile art conferences worldwide, with a keen interest in the intersection of art and life in late-capitalist society. 3 jeon joonHo & moon Kyungwon Media artists and darlings of the Korean contemporary art world. In 2012, this artist duo was included in Documenta 13 and won the grand prize at the 9th Gwangju Biennale. 4 gimHongSoK Multi-disciplinary artist with a practice spanning sculpture, installation, video and performance works. Witty and smart, his satirical and conceptual oeuvre often takes a critical stance toward notions of communication, interpretation and the role of the media in society. 5 part-time Suite Three-person artist collective focusing on issues of self-determination and independence within the strictures of Korea’s conservative society. The group burst onto the scene in 2009 with a series of site-specific ‘squatting’ projects in which they temporarily occupied vacant urban spaces and reactivated them as platforms for dialogue and exchange.

2 artSonje Centre Seoul’s premier small contemporary art museum since 1998, with an exhibition history that reads like a who’s who in Korean contemporary art. 3 art SpaCe pool A non-profit/alternative art space that functions as a selforganized collective known for its highly conceptual and intellectually rigorous programming. 4 KuKje gallery and gallery Hyundai The ‘big two’ commercial galleries in Seoul, both of which have been around for decades (Hyundai since 1940) and exhibit the very best in domestic and international contemporary art. Kukje and Hyundai are both consistently featured at some of the biggest art fairs worldwide. kukjegallery. com, 5 one and j. gallery One of the city’s most successful young galleries (it was founded in 2005), showing some of the most promising young Korean artists, as well as a handful of international artists. In time, it is sure to become a major player in Seoul’s gallery scene.

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Heart & Soul Is it art or is it noise? Marina Galperina gets lost in sound.


harmakon’s scream melted the speaker. It growled out of her chest, ripped through the listeners and crashed to the ceiling of Basilica Hudson, a giant 19th-century glue factoryturned-music venue. To feel this violent ecstasy, most of the attendant crowd of several hundred had travelled two hours north by train out of New York City to Hudson. To them, ‘noise music’ and ‘sound art’ were just labels. No one cared that the world-famous artist Matthew Barney was quietly eating noodles by the bar. They just wanted to hear his piece. The speaker was replaced, and Barney’s composer, Jonathan Bepler, took to the floor. He conducted four diferent acts, all playing simultaneously from the opposite corners of the factory: a grindcore band, a singer with a violinist, a dark electronic DJ and Pharmakon. All very loud. Brandon Stosuy, an organizer of Basilica SoundScape art and music festival and Barney and Bepler’s collaborator on this piece, has been friends with Barney for a decade, since the artist was scuttling up the Vaseline-covered walls of New York’s Guggenheim Museum for his video epic The Cremaster Cycle. Barney’s Cremaster props now go for tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars at auctions; he is as big-time as they come. ‘We recently turned down doing something in a museum because he felt like it wasn’t respecting the music,’ Stosuy says. A month before Basilica SoundScape, at the opening night of the ‘Soundings’ exhibition at MoMA, the noise was diferent. Guests schmoozed over wine. It was great to see so much hype over an underrepresented art genre. I had been especially waiting to see 116 Baku. Eye.


AION (2006) by Berlin-based Danish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard. AION uses field recordings of abandoned rooms in Chernobyl, played back into the room, the accumulating sound re-recorded and played back, again and again, until the subtle hum grows thick and tense with the spatial frequency of the dead room. But I couldn’t hear it over the party chatter. ‘I am not sure if noise as art is really something that works in a museum setting,’ Pharmakon’s younger sister, artist Jane Chardiet says. She’s referring to another piece, American artist Tristan Perich’s Microtonal Wall (2011) in which 1,500 calibrated speakers producing a heavily textured wall of white noise. ‘I saw people whizzing past the speakers, just laughing and talking and not even attempting to really absorb the piece,’ she recalls, horrified.

So HarSH, So Pretty

Jane Chardiet has been booking noise shows in New York for four years, the kind of shows outsiders don’t go to. She’s a regular at Fitness in Brooklyn (‘Where else?’), a basement under a makeshift art gallery, where she recently had a few friends booked for a show. Saran Man, wrapped in cellophane, played rhythmic tape loops. Shannon Kennedy, half of the experimental music duo Pedestrian Deposit, hung a miked string across the room. ‘She played the string with her body while the band manipulated the sounds. The set was so harsh, so pretty.’ Noise is hard. Not ‘difcult’ in the way critics like to refer to conceptual art pieces – noise is literally hard to tolerate. It twists your bones around, a purely visceral thing, alive and frantic. Noise simply doesn’t want to go to the museum. Most of the show curators I talked to recall the time Yellow Tears tore up the Whitney Museum in 2010, assaulting the museum with violent soundscapes and pissing in blacklit miked bowls. That’s a lot less polite than Marina Abramović sitting quietly at MoMA for a few months.

noiSe dad SayS no

‘Yellow Tears was pretty heavy stuf. A lot of extreme things can happen when you get permission,’ experimental musician Bob Bellerue tells me. ‘Chris Burden is now a huge name in the art world, but when he was getting started, he was an outsider doing the freakiest thing anyone has ever seen.’ In 1971, Burden had himself shot in the arm inside a gallery but today there’s a retrospective of his work at the New Museum

in New York: ‘Now, he can do anything he wants.’ They call Bellerue ‘Noise Dad’ at Silent Barn, a Brooklyn venue where he and his son’s mother, choreographer Wanda Gala, have an artist residency. A few years ago, they operated out of a squat in Los Angeles where I saw my first noise shows. ‘That conceptual critical dialogue thing involves using a lot of big words to legitimize something that could be created by a lot of other people in a lot of other environments,’ Bellerue says. He doesn’t go out much to ‘hoity-toity’ art events. ‘There’s experimentation in the art world, but behind it all is a capitalist money structure. In the noise world, there isn’t that. People do things for the joy of creation.’ Noise Dad may disagree but the noise community and the art scene do mix sometimes. Quietly. At the Silent Barn show organized in conjunction with the MoMA exhibition, Jacob Kirkegaard performed with recordings of Icelandic volcanoes, and Lesley Flanigan played a glass sculpture, cutting apart the sounds of melting icebergs. ‘The “scene” is very supportive here,’ Stosuy tells me. ‘I feed of community,’ Chardiet admits. ‘I think a lot of artists do, that’s why “nonvenues” are so important and it sucks that New York doesn’t have more.’ So what’s beyond the Brooklyn basement? ‘In Carrboro, North Carolina, there’s a cluster of 15 people who host one of the best noise festivals in the country,’ Chardiet tells me. ‘There are insanely talented performers like Visk, who produces sounds by sewing and piercing her own flesh and playing with the audience’s spit… in a cofee shop. Because that is possible there.’ ‘New York isn’t the centre of every world,’ Chardiet continues. ‘It is actually really hard for me to book noise shows here.’ Soaring rent is a distracting pressure. Cops shut down squatting noise shows, real venues don’t want to host them, and no one makes money. But noise isn’t big art and it isn’t supposed to make big money. It’s about the joy of creation. As much as we can give. As long as we can take it.



© christian charisius/reuters/corbis. © dpa picture alliance archive/ alamy. getty.

The line is blurring between collectors and curators as investors put their own names in lights, says Ian Volner.


he average global billionaire, according to a new report from the Institute of Private Investors, keeps up to $31 million of their total assets in paintings and sculptures. This is a striking figure because it marks a seismic shift. Sure, collecting contemporary art has become a common pastime among the uber-wealthy; but they are no longer doing it just for fun and status. In a messy world economy full of import duties and estate taxes, art is a great way to stay fluid, and spotting a painting whose value is likely to go up can be a lot easier than identifying a surefire stock. All you have to do is look at the name in the corner of the canvas. But among the faithful customers of Jef Koons and Damien Hirst there is a special priestly circle of mega-collectors who are taking their avantguardianship to the next level. With collections that sometimes top 18 per cent of their overall wealth, these billionaires are buying not just for themselves but with an eye to posterity, creating a whole new institutional landscape along the way. Privately funded, publicminded foundations, sometimes (though not always) named after their generous benefactors, are cropping up all over. It’s a trend that’s poised to rearrange the long-established pecking order among commercial galleries, individual collectors, and the museums that bring new art to the masses.

3 commercial gallerists (or, indeed, by anyone at all), these buyers aren’t just money-laden middlemen: they’re curator, collector, donor and museum director all rolled into one. Take Uli Sigg, the Swiss media executive who recently donated nearly his entire collection of contemporary Chinese art – worth some $163 million – to Hong Kongbased museum M+. Lacking a permanent home as yet (and, until the donation was announced last summer, scarcely having any collection to speak of), M+ has become an Uli Sigg operation in all but name. Creating an institution of his own, says senior curator Pi Li, was Sigg’s objective from the outset. ‘Unlike other private collectors, he built his collection more from an institutional perspective than personal taste,’ says Pi Li, who joined M+ in May 2012. ‘Not many people, and still fewer institutions, collected Chinese art in the 1990s.’ Sigg, though less wealthy than some of his like-minded colleagues (he was a diplomat when he began collecting in the mid-90s), has been deliberately assembling a museumlike, broad-spectrum collection from the outset. As Pi Li says: ‘From the first day of his collecting, he believed this collection had to stay in the country. He’s just been temporarily looking after the work for China.’ Another collector evidently bent on leaving his mark on history is François Pinault. Owner of one of France’s largest luxury goods conglomerates, and an avid supporter of artists such as Rudolf Stingel, Juergen Teller and Olafur Eliasson, Pinault established a home for his self-titled art foundation in Venice’s vast Punta della Dogana four years ago. He has since added another jewel to his crown with the debut of an additional art space in the Palazzo Grassi on the Grand Canal. The scale of Pinault’s ambition is made starkly evident by the place in which he’s determined to set up shop. The whole art world descends on Venice every two years for the city’s famed Biennale, and by creating a sequence of

MiddleMen begone

Opposite: performers at Basilica SoundScape included (left) Saran Man and (right) Pharmakon. This page, from top: ‘Unknown Creature No. 10’ (2005) by Shen Shaomin; collector Uli Sigg with Chen Yanning’s ‘Chairman Mao Visits Guangdong Peasants’ (1972); collector François Pinault with works by Urs Fischer.

In the good old days, adventurous young artists holed up in lofts in Venice Beach, Soho or the Left Bank; if lucky, they were cultivated by gallerists and critics, who then channelled their work to collectors, who in turn could be counted upon to eventually donate those works in bits and pieces to an assortment of favoured museums. In the new model the collector creates a whole ready-made museum ex nihilo. Guided in their selections by private advisers rather than

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spaces all under his own brand, Pinault has provided visitors to the city with an entire alternative itinerary: a Biennale of his own.

building an empire


Some of the emerging mega-collectors appear to be operating out of complex political motives. In Qatar – a country still governed by an absolute monarchy – the scion of the royal family Sheikha Al Mayassa Al-Thani has become an improbable force for change through her directorship of the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA). Pursuing an aggressive collecting strategy, Al Mayassa has used the QMA as a vehicle to bring challenging, even subversive art into the country, all under quasi-ofcial auspices. In Russia, Roman Abramovich, together with long-time partner Dasha Zhukova, has been expanding a cultural empire at odds with the often insular, anticosmopolitan tenor of the local political climate. His latest front is a branch of the Moscow Centre of Contemporary Art, to be located on the now vacant New Holland Island in St. Petersburg. Ensuring that their collection has the kind of home that will make it a global presence far into the future, the collectors have secured the services of New York-based architects WorkAC to create a sequence of gleaming, linked pavilions. The proposal, says WorkAC’s Amale Andraos, bears out its sponsors’ progressive vision of contemporary culture. ‘Dasha and Roman have a unique global perspective on the art world,’ says Andraos. ‘They’re very receptive to new ideas and to opening up possibilities.’ Whether their objective is to advance some worthy cultural project, or simply to put their own name in lights, these new institutionalists will have an efect not just on the way art is presented but how it’s made. In the past, artists who wanted to get ahead had to placate critics, gallerists, and curators as well as buyers. But as the role of the collector expands, artists will have fewer constituencies to cater to. That might make them more independent. Or we might see whole flocks of young artists painting ‘for Dasha’ or ‘for Uli’ – a somewhat disquieting thought. In other words, the centuries-old question is back: is a Michelangelo only as good as his Medici?


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ars longa

Private treaty sales are discreet, flexible and lucrative – what could possibly go wrong? It depends who you ask, says Susan Moore.


s there anything Christie’s and Sotheby’s don’t do these days? Nothing, it seems – except, perhaps, call themselves auction houses (Christie’s has just rebranded, calling itself ‘The Art People’). For the Big Two are no longer merely salerooms or even global art businesses but luxury goods, customer and financial service empires with more facets than fancycut diamonds. The reason is simple. Despite the billion-dollar turnovers and high-profile sales in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and now mainland China, the top level of fine art auctioneering remains a notoriously high-overhead, low-profit business. At times, it is even a no-profit business. How these two behemoths have grappled to respond to this uncomfortable fact has shaped the recent art market – and looks set to recast it again with the rise of the private sale and galleries dedicated to it. This page, from top: works collected and exhibited by François Pinault at his own galleries: an installation by Rudolf Stingel at Palazzo Grassi, Venice; and works by Maurizio Cattellan, Rachel Whiteread and Mike Kelley at the Punta della Dogana, also in Venice; works that have been on display at Sotheby’s S|2 gallery in New York: ‘Punch Bag’ (1983) by Jean-Michel Basquiat and (opposite, from top) ‘Corso Vittorio Emanuele’ (1989) by Thomas Struth; and works ofered through Christie’s Private Sales: ‘Number Seventy-One’ (1965) by Gerald Laing and ‘A Day The Dark Black Clouds Gather’ (2012) by Ahn Doo-Jin.

This incursion into art dealer territory began in the early 1980s when the Michiganbased shopping-mall magnate Alfred Taubman acquired a foundering Sotheby ParkeBernet and had the inspired idea of transforming an essentially wholesale business into a retail business. To entice well-heeled buyers through his doors, salerooms became smarter, evening auctions and receptions more glamorous and employees better looking. Instead of waiting passively for the three Ds of death, debt and divorce to stock their sales, the auction houses turned to aggressive aspirational lifestyle marketing to expand their international client-base. They also continued to look longingly at the market share of the dealers (currently around half of the €43bn global art-market cake as far as anyone can tell). Over the years, various art dealerships operating in both the primary and secondary (resale) markets were acquired by both Sotheby’s and Christie’s, but these met with varying degrees of success. Then the private sale began to come into its own. During the darkest days of the global economic crisis of the noughties, auction specialists were encouraged to ofer works of art for sale privately on behalf of those owners wary of consigning to auction in uncertain times. Business was transformed when these specialists, initially unwilling to be distracted from organizing their sales, were ofered the incentive of a commission. But can there really be no conflict of interest here?

Photo Stefan altenburger, courteSy the artiSt. reX. courteSy Sotheby’S. © acS, 2013, courteSy of waddington cuStot gallerieS, london. chriStie’S imageS ltd, 2013. courteSy the artiStS.

wanting it now

Discretionary private treaty sales of unsold lots have regularly been made after sales, or have been the favoured means for complex negotiated sales of expensive heritage items. What is new is how they have evolved into a parallel sales channel, both for vendors wishing to sell quickly or discreetly for family or tax reasons and for a new

generation of collectors who know what they want and Want It Now. ‘Most private sales are generated by clients,’ explains Alex Platon, head of private sales in Europe for Impressionist and Modern art at Sotheby’s. ‘After a sale, the unsuccessful bidders might ask us to find them something comparable. If something sells well, owners of similar works of art approach us. They know that our global reach is unparalleled.’ The resulting figures speak for themselves. In 2000, private sales at Christie’s amounted to $185m. By 2012, the figure had soared to $1bn, 16 per cent of the total sales. Post-war and contemporary art account for most of these transactions, followed by jewels and Impressionist art.

buyers beware

Sotheby’s inaugurated its first dedicated sales gallery for contemporary art, S|2, in New York in 2011, following this with similar galleries in Hong Kong and London. Christie’s, which runs galleries also in New York and London, is adding Hong Kong, Moscow, Shanghai and possibly Tokyo to its list next year. Only a handful of international dealers have the financial muscle to compete with this duopoly, and plenty are wary of any increase in its power and ambition. ‘Major issues of transparency and potential conflict of interest are not being addressed with these private sales. It is no longer always clear whether an auction house is acting as an agent, dealer or owner. There are horror stories of clients ofered works at optimistic prices who then see them sold for half the price at auction three months later,’ argues James Roundell, chairman of the Society of London Art Dealers. ‘Our strength is that we are better placed to advise and help form a collection for a client over a period of time. We have to respond to what the auction houses are doing and ensure that we are doing it better.’ Nevertheless, private treaty sales are likely to continue to grow in popularity. They ofer vendors the possibility of sales outside the auction calendar and they ofer discretion as, unlike an auction, there is no public record of any transaction or the amount for which a work of art was sold (auction results are easily accessible on the Internet). They also avoid the risk of ‘burning’, when a work of art fails to sell at auction and is then considered unsaleable for at least five years. These transactions are also well suited for works of art likely to appeal to museums, as institutions are rarely able to make the quick

decisions demanded by the speed of bids during an auction. But there is a downside. If all the finest works of art are siphoned of for private sales, auctions themselves will be weakened. As they provide the only real publicly available gauge of the state of the art market, any decline may afect confidence in the market as a whole. Moreover, a public auction ofers some reassurance to buyers that they have paid a fair market price. It is for this reason that most novice buyers, unsure of values and issues of quality and condition, and also unsure of whom to trust, tend to begin by buying at auction. Those buyers transform into knowledgeable and passionate collectors, however, by forging a relationship with an experienced dealer or small group of dealers who they trust to advise them. The extent and quality of expertise accumulated over many years of looking at and handling works of art, and the opportunity to pass it on to collectors and to the next generation of dealers, is arguably the art market’s most precious asset. London, in particular, has an unparalleled breadth and depth of such expertise held by its art galleries and auction houses. This state is increasingly under threat as the former struggles to compete with the latter. But surely it is in the best interest of collectors that there is a balance of both.


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Michael Brooks reports on a very diferent body of work, as dancers inspire neuroscientists to think outside the box.


hat is a body? It’s a question we wouldn’t normally ask at a ballet, but perhaps we should. Wayne McGregor, resident choreographer at London’s Royal Ballet, certainly has. He describes himself as obsessed with the ‘technology of the body’ – an odd description, but an accurate one: we are hardware and software, body and mind. McGregor has teamed up with neuroscientists to explore the mind-body interaction, resulting in a list of 12 new principles for teaching dance called Choreographic


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Elevation 1049

Gstaad, 27 January – 8 March 2014


his winter, the mountains of Gstaad host an outdoor biennale. The mass exhibition is curated by New York-based couple Neville Wakefield, a British curator, writer and ex-creative director of Playboy and Nike, and Olympia Scarry, a Swiss-born artist and heiress. They have covered the peaks and valleys around the city with the works of Switzerland’s greatest living artists. A very diferent sort of white space.

Jameel Prize

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 11 December 2013 – 21 April 2014


on’t miss this exhibition of work from nominees for 2013’s Jameel Prize, created to raise awareness of the link between the Islamic world and contemporary art and design. The 10 artists include Azerbaijani Faig Ahmed, known for his reworkings of traditional carpets.

sweet: Collaborating with your artists, not just buying their works. Start a fashion line, launch a charity, or run away to Costa Rica together on a recce. It shows you get it at a deep level, you know?


Audiences are not the only ones amazed. Neuroscientists David Kirsh of the University of California, San Diego and Philip Barnard of Cambridge University see this as a rich resource for scientific study. They have been working closely with McGregor and his dancers, asking them about their mental processes, and even putting them into the clanking tube of an MRI machine before asking them to imagine performing sequences of steps. The resulting brain scans have produced fascinating insights into the way our brains invoke, create and interpret the motions and postures of the body. The Choreographic Thinking Tools are one of the results of this collaboration, and the hope is that they will be widely shared in schools and training colleges, enabling more dancers to innovate. The collaboration between McGregor and the neuroscientists could well create a revolution in contemporary dance. Neuroscience could also profit much more from these experiments. The interaction between body and mind is currently science’s most exciting frontier, but it has frequently relied on a ‘freak show’ mentality of exploiting the extraordinary. Too much of our knowledge has come from feasting on afiction: the inability to recognize objects or faces (remember the man who mistook his wife for a hat?), for example, or the phantom limb phenomenon, in which amputees receive sensations from arms and legs that they no longer have. McGregor’s dancers are certainly extraordinary, but in a diferent way – an alternative kind of freak show, if you will. It is immediately obvious to their audiences that the breathtaking movements and coordinations between members of the Random Dance company are the work of bodies and minds that have transcended what is normal for human beings; their bodies and minds are coordinated to an unprecedented degree. This provides a unique opportunity. Neuroscience has shown already that thinking about a movement produces identical brain patterns to when actually making that movement. While you can’t perform contemporary dance inside an MRI scanner, the collaboration has already shown that you can use one to watch a highly trained mind think about how it would move its highly trained body, and that is a performance neuroscientists should be paying serious money to see.


Random: Grafti art.

It’s gone mainstream and it’s dying. Like punk did when The Clash signed with CBS.

photo ravi deepres.

exciting neW fRontieRs

6 >


Thinking Tools, and a ballet called Atomos, performed by McGregor’s Random Dance company and now touring internationally. The professionals of Random Dance are encouraged to break out of the rigid, predetermined moves of their training and find new ways to hold and translate their bodies. McGregor’s method is a fascinating one. He sets his dancers ‘problem-solving tasks’ in order to stretch them out of their comfort zones. He might ask one to move their chin in small circles while imagining their left leg is stuck in a puddle of mud. It sounds bizarre, but it creates new ‘vocabulary’ for the dancer, and because each performer ofers a diferent solution to the task, the company ends up with an enormous repertoire of movements. That’s why the performances consistently wow – and sometimes shock – audiences used to dances that draw from a narrow, familiar set of movements and positions.

Keeping the Faith

The bloody images that fill our TV screens portray religion as an almost wholly divisive force, in whose name wars are waged, countries torn apart and families destroyed. Newspaper headlines shout of prejudice, hatred and discrimination. It is hard to see the light. But award-winning Iranian photographer reza Deghati is determined to show another side. ‘Land of Tolerance’, recently displayed at the united Nations in New York and at unesco in paris, is a collection of images captured during reza’s travels in Azerbaijan, which depicts the ways in which multiple faiths coexist peacefully within this one country. A minaret glimpsed through a star of David; a Christian church table around which Muslims dine (above); ceremonies and rituals in synagogues, cathedrals and mosques (right) – reza’s photographs find harmony in diversity. It is a visual celebration of religious tolerance and a timely reminder that we should keep the faith.


Visit 122 Baku.

photography © reza, 2013.


For three decades photographer Reza Deghati has trained his lens on the world’s religions. Azerbaijan’s multi-faith culture provided a rich source of inspiration.

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destination: georgia

The Shah of Snow russia shahdag Caspian sea



iran Where is it?

What’s it like?

Since 2006 the rugged mountainsides of Shahdag have been primped and preened into a slick ski destination, with a top station at 2,500m. The resort first opened its doors in 2012 – once completed it will play host to thousands of daily visitors. The chalets and hotels which dot the slopes cater for every type of guest, from party-seeking students to glamorous ski bunnies. Most of the guides are locals, raised herding livestock before being trained by skiing experts from Argentina to Austria, and many of the ski pros still moonlight as shepherds. 124 Baku.


What to do?

Ski, obviously. Just in time for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in February the resort has opened a new piste, taking the total number to eight. Sure, it’s not Les Trois Vallées, but these are early days; the plan is to complete 19 by 2019, making it a diverting and unusual weekend destination. It will be a few more years before the red and black runs are open. With snow cannons every 50m, the

snow should be near-perfect with reliable cover. Don’t panic if you see fellow guests wielding pickaxes. Ice-climbing is another big attraction here – the area is known for its sheer-drop waterfalls, which freeze completely in winter. The best time is February, the coldest month (no one wants to be the first to notice the thaw). Fans of warmer climes needn’t worry, however – Shahdag is a year-round resort.

words by caroline davies. photography by emil khalilov.

Hug the broad coastal road north out of Baku and into the Caucasus mountains. The fields gradually turn from lush green to frost-tipped, and barely two hours from the capital you’ll see the snow-covered resort of Shahdag before you.

Sample some Caucasus-style après-ski with a long weekend in Shahdag, Azerbaijan’s first winter sports resort, high in the mountains above Baku.

Where to eat?

Tskian is the Azerbaijani equivalent of a French alpine tartiflette. Tuck into a slice of this pastry stuffed with meat, potatoes and herbs before hitting the slopes for the day. Warm up later with hot drinks at Menzere, the roof terrace at Shahdag Hotel. The armchair skier can admire the action from the restaurant in the Zirve hotel at the bottom of the slopes. Forthcoming openings include the Opera Restaurant, promising ‘Azerbaijan with a twist of ski chalet’, a panoramic restaurant at the top of the mountain, and a new venue from designer Henry Chebaane. Come summer, in fact, it’s positively Mediterranean. Zip lining, go-carting, horseback riding, trotinette (like a hardy scooter for zooming down mountains), day-long hikes and high-altitude yoga are favourites. The Azerbaijan judo team spent their entire summer training here, but even after just a week of all this fresh air you’ll develop lungs like a buffalo’s. Exhausted just thinking about it? Take refuge in the spa, the pièce de résistance of the resort, offering door after door of marbled treatment rooms, individual hammams and Azerbaijan-themed treatments to soothe those weary muscles.

Where to stay?

This winter there will be five options to choose from, including the chic five-star, wood-andmarble Shahdag Hotel and Spa, the contemporary four-star Zirve hotel (pictured above, left and far left), and Gaya family apartments (below).



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rtists are faced with a complex task. They have to paint a picture professionally (it is unimportant in which style; styles are invented by critics), but also grasp a beautiful idea that touches the viewer’s heart. My studio is at the House of Artists in Baku. I try to spend as much time there as possible. I prepare sketches, variations for future pictures; I try not to lose sight of an idea, so I keep a small album with me. It’s difficult for me to describe my 126 Baku.


work; it’s about self-expression. I prefer to paint in oil – it has unlimited possibilities. My interest in figurative art was probably passed down in my genes from my father, the late Rafiq Mehdiyev, a National Artist of Azerbaijan. Very often I would go to his studio, play with paints, and watch how he worked. Growing up, I realised that I could express my feelings through imagery. Later this progressed into a more professional interest. My family and I holidayed at the All-Union House of Artists on the shores of Lake Senezh in Moscow and I painted my first works there. Most recently, I have begun a series of pictures connected with psychology. The psyche of a person involves a great deal more than we would imagine and this is a very interesting avenue for me. I also like nature – the hierarchy of colours – and

portrait of the artist by natavan vagabova.

the artist: Nature’s

Following in his father’s footsteps yet blazing his own trail, Azerbaijani artist Rashad Mehdiyev is inspired by the outside world and the mind within. Clockwise, from far left: Rashad Mehdiyev, photographed in his studio in Baku; inspired by women, his paintings include ‘Slavyanka’ (2010) and ‘Tired Angel’ (2013).

painting outdoors. It gives freshness and strength, and cleanses the palate. But inspiration can also be found when you achieve what you are striving for in a painting. And, of course, women are the most powerful source of inspiration. The most beautiful feelings and sensations can only be obtained from the most beautiful creation on earth.


See Rashad Mehdiyev’s work at the Gyz Galasy Gallery and the National Museum of Art in Baku. 127 Baku.


history lesson:

Poet in Motion


nd Yesenin is interesting because...? He was a renowned 20thcentury Russian poet. Born in 1895 as a peasant, he began writing verse at the age of nine. In 1915 he moved to St Petersburg and fell in with the poetry crowd. In the mid-1920s he spent time in Absheron, a peninsula in the Caspian Sea. So his work was part of the dark and brooding Russian literary canon, right? His first book, published in 1916, was called Ritual for the Dead and made him a literary celebrity, his verses on traditional peasant life striking a chord in the turmoil of preand post-revolution Russia. In 1921 he met the well-known American dancer Isadora Duncan in Moscow and they married the following year. He accompanied her on tour in Europe and the US – somewhat ill-advised, given the mood

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of the day, and sure enough he was briefly held at Ellis Island as a suspected Bolshevik. When not wrangling with the authorities, he was known for getting drunk and smashing up hotel rooms. Ah, a rock star for his day. It seems so. He had a string of affairs and was married four times (once while he was still technically married to the previous wife). How did he end up in Azerbaijan? The official line is that he was invited there by the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic to fuel his inspiration. He was put up in a two-bed guest house in the garden of a former stately home. He said it reminded him of his humble peasant beginnings in his village in Russia. And was he inspired? Yes, he must have been. He wrote several poems from his collection Persian Motifs while staying there. So he sat and admired the flora and fauna, the Caspian Sea…? Not quite. He spent most of his time down a well.

A well? It was next to the guesthouse, 22m deep, with steps leading to the bottom. He would take a piece of carpet to sit on and a light to write by. Why did he sit in a well? To escape the heat, apparently. As you do. How long was he there? Several months from 1924–25, travelling back and forth between St Petersburg, Moscow and the guesthouse. It seems he was also quite the fan of Mugham, the national music of Azerbaijan. Well I never. Indeed. He returned to Russia for good in 1925, where he met and married his fourth wife, Sophia Andreyevna Tolstaya. Sadly the marriage wasn’t to last; he died a few months after their wedding. How did he die? He suffered from alcoholism, had a mental breakdown and was hospitalized. He committed suicide, aged 30, two days after his release, writing his farewell poem in his own blood. A tortured soul indeed.


From left: Yesenin with Duncan; as painted by Constantin Alajalov; Yesenin as a young man in Russia.

words by caroline davies. everett collection/reX. © contrasto/eyevine.

Russian poet Sergei Yesenin was the rock star of his day, a lover of vodka and women who penned verses from the bottom of a well.

The Excelsior Hotel Baku is a beautiful ďŹ ve-star luxurious hotel in Baku city. It combines tradition and innovation with modern luxury and a touch of antiquity. The hotel is furnished with a melange of classical architecture and contemporary design elements. Being conveniently located near the cosmopolitan downtown area of Baku, the Excelsior Hotel oers easy access to business, shopping and entertainment centres. Heydar Aliyev International Airport is only 20 minutes away fom the hotel.


An Artistic Stamp

like to think of myself as both historian and artist. Without the history, my work would be rudderless.’ So says up-and-coming British artist Matthew Corbin Bishop of his first major project, The Making of the Modern World (left and top right), in which he paints large-scale versions of stamps from countries in the former European and Ottoman empires. ‘A stamp is a tiny thing but it is representative of a whole country,’ he explains. ‘It has so much in it, from the economics noted by the currency, to the culture in its choice of text and images.’ It’s a premise that has caught the imagination of the art world, with Bishop’s work being included in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (2012) and Art Dubai (2012). Although he sometimes – controversially among philatelists – alters the colours (as in his version of an Azerbaijani stamp depicting Baku’s Old Town, dating from the early 20th century, top left), his paintings otherwise remain true to their originals, even down to the watermarks. ‘The work has taken years of research,’ he says, pointing to 50 journals of notes and bookcases heaving with historical texts with which he educates himself on the background of the countries whose stamps he so painstakingly recreates. He uses a magnifying glass for accuracy and has had to have his bottom eyelids re-set twice from the strain. Now that’s dedication to one’s art.


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words by caroline davies. courtesy of rose issa projects.

Matthew Corbin Bishop is making a mark with his large-scale paintings of historic stamps from nations all around the world.


the illustrator: By Leyla Aliyeva

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Winter � � � � � � � �


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London Roars

Caroline davies got trigger-happy with her Leica at Frieze London.

‘groundhog day’ (2013) by fredrik vÆrslev, andrew kreps gallery. ‘maps of truths and beliefs’ (2011), detail, by grayson perry, photo by tony kyriacou/rex. ingo wagner/afp/getty. ‘tomorrow’ by elmgreen & dragset (2013), installation images courtesy the artists and victoria miro, london, photography stephen white.

Mikhail karikis

arthur gueret

Collector, Paris and Dubai Which country should you buy art from? China and the US are producing great art. What are you buying? Nothing yet, but I particularly like Fredrik Værslev (above) in Andrew Kreps Gallery and Sterling Ruby in White Cube. What does your collection say about you? I don’t think it’s about me, I believe everyone has so much information that the result is a strange mix of different aesthetics and logic. In the end you don’t see any logic in your own taste. What is poor art collector etiquette? Thinking you have superior taste, when really you are following someone else’s.

Artist, London What is in your collection? Some of my collection has been passed down to me from previous generations, some I’ve bought, but most I’ve been given by artist friends and their children, which means I have everything from a 12-year-old’s pieces to modern masters. I have Hans Reichel, David Hockney, Félix González-Torres, a Grayson Perry textile (below right), Anne Tallentire, Marcia Farquhar, Uriel Orlow and Oona Grimes. What is interesting about Frieze? The calibre of the collector is totally different to other fairs. It has established itself as the important art fair. Which country should you buy from at the moment? I’ve been positively surprised by Japan. In the aftermath of Fukushima, the people’s psychology, the way they see themselves in society and in the rest of the world has changed. They are producing some very interesting works. What are you currently working on? I am currently showing at Tate St Ives and in 2014 Tate Britain is showing one of my videos.

angela adaMs, ian lowe

Collectors, Hong Kong and London What is poor collector etiquette? Self-importance and demanding that you have a right to pieces before anyone else. Elmgreen & Dragset have an installation at the Victoria and Albert Museum at the moment. It is an apartment belonging to a fictional architect (bottom left). Some collectors have been trying to buy it whole. They don’t realise that not everything is for sale. What are you buying? I’m not certain yet. Sometimes it takes us a few hours or a few days to decide. Frieze encourages a lot of creativity, it is a place to be experimental and is not only about the big-name artists. Frieze Masters is delicious. The historical perspective is enriching, it is a good complement to Frieze.

angela goding

Director of development, MoMA, New York Which country should you buy art from at the moment? I am very focused on America and New York is very vibrant right now. I lived in China for two years so I have a soft spot for it, it’s nice to see it evolve. Whose muse would you like to be? I’m a huge James Turrell fan (bottom right). What is poor collector etiquette? Buying something because it is trendy but not understanding what it’s about. What does Frieze bring to the art world? Frieze embraces London. When I’m here I hunt down contemporary international art that I can’t find anywhere else.

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my art:

Living Doll

Actress and model Liberty Ross collects and creates art that explores and challenges conventional notions of beauty.

IntervIew by CarolIne DavIes. rex/mCmullan/sIpa usa. pupa xII (2012) © polly borlanD, Image Courtesy of paul KasmIn gallery.

Who do you collect? I have photography by Mario Testino, Nick Knight, Tierney Gearon and Sølve Sundsbø, among others. All the art I have has a story behind it. My most recent purchase was a photograph by Inez & Vinoodh from their new collection of flowers on display in LA. It’s of three stems of lily of the valley, one of my favourite flowers – and ‘Lily’ has been my nickname my whole life. Loving Nick Knight. Tell us about your recent work for him. He’s a dear friend and I’m a regular contributor to his website SHOWstudio. He wanted me to create a video on fetish – I was looking for inspiration when I met the artist Polly Borland in Los Angeles, and last year we ended up collaborating to create a piece for him called Dollywood. What was your inspiration for it? Polly and I were talking about notions of beauty. As a model, people assume so many things about you. I’ve always found that an odd dynamic to live with. Polly is Australian and had just arrived in Hollywood, with all its associations with glamour and screen stars. Together, we wanted to explore the artifice of beauty. And the end result? In the video I’m a dolly that has been stuffed. It was the first time Polly had created a film and after shooting we worked on a series of photographs, called Pupa (Latin for doll). I have one on my wall at home, called Marilyn (pictured above), where I’m ‘stuffed’ and wearing a white wig. It really speaks to me because it was made from such a personal place.

Liberty Ross, photographed in New York at Polly Borland’s exhibition ‘You’.

Why do you like Polly’s work? It’s humorous, but it puts you on edge. I think this piece is very striking. It really makes you question ‘do I love that or do I hate it?’


Visit and 137 Baku.

the buzz:

Hot Property

A new, ultra-contemporary hotel takes the three curved skyscrapers which stand proud over Baku – the Flame Towers – to even greater heights.

the spectacular animated light show of fire and flags that nightly illuminates baku’s Flame towers has inspired the striking look of the new Fairmont hotel, which occupies all 36 floors of the north tower. Global design consultancy hirsch bedner Associates has added blazing splashes of red, amber and purple throughout the largely all-white interiors – a silk wall covering here, a glass panel there – which become more intense the higher up the tower you go, mimicking the rising flames. Dining options include a steakhouse and baku’s first French bistro, and you can soak up city and sea views while doing laps in the 5th-floor pool – part of Azerbaijan’s only eSPA spa. After dark, enjoy a ‘Pearls of baku’ cocktail (a pomegranate martini, essentially) in the Alov jazz bar or a fine havana in the cigar lounge. All guestrooms feature floor-toceiling windows to make the most of the setting – book a deluxe room for Caspian views.


Visit 139 Baku.

Think dolls are child’s play? Think again. The 2013 baku International Dolls biennale, held at the city’s Museum Centre, attracted puppet masters and doll-makers from around the world. entrants from Georgia to Germany, as well as azerbaijan, showcased their skills in making these meticulously detailed and often uncannily lifelike figurines. From fearsome fairies to mysterious mannequins, the works were inspired by the biennale’s theme of ‘Fusion’, a term widely used in jazz and architecture, which the artists adapted to explore the eclectic ways in which dolls are integrated into our culture. no mere playthings, after all.


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All Dolled Up

photography by Elmar mustafazadEh.

new baku:

The second Baku International Dolls Biennale attracted entrants from around the world, resulting in an eclectic display inspired by the theme of ‘Fusion’. Highlights from the Biennale included, clockwise from bottom left: ‘Cradles’ by Natalya Lepikhina of Kazakhstan; ‘Don Perignon’ by Gulya Alekseyeva of Russia; ‘Peony’ by Laura Scattolini of Italy; ‘Lovely Sweeties’ and ‘Drala, the red shoes’ by Christine Polis and Benoît Polvêche of Belgium.

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The Kristian Aadnevik spring/summer 2013 show in Baku. The designer is pictured (top) with the models backstage. I love that all the women dress up in Baku. I actually found it inspiring. Sometimes in Europe (I grew up in Norway) people don’t always dress up, they just go out in the evenings in their normal clothes. In Baku, they do their hair, they put on nice clothes.

As a fashion designer, you appreciate it when people make an effort. We were very honoured to be involved in one of the first fashion shows in Baku. Even though they haven’t hosted many before, everything was very carefully planned and professional. It was great for us to be part of it. Baku is the sort of place where we would really like to open our own store. You can see that there is a market there already and it will only develop. It’s a good place to be from the beginning.


Kristian Aadnevik is a Norwegian-born, Londonbased fashion designer.

interview by caroline davies. photography by hasan aliyev.

Tabula Rasa Kristian aadneviK 144 Baku.

y first impression of Baku was the way the city was built. Architecture is very inspiring for me. Whenever I travel I take a huge number of photos, trying to keep the memories of anything from small decorations to the shape of the whole building. Baku is an exciting mix of new and ancient. We went to the historic Nobel House for dinner, visited the modern art museum and had a tour of the Old Town. I would love to go inside Zaha Hadid’s building next time I visit. There is such a difference between the city in the daytime and at night. The Crystal Hall, the Flame Towers, the Caspian – it is a spectacular light show every evening.

Dior Boutique Nefchiler 105, Baku – 994 12 437 62 02

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