FOREWORD by Leyla Aliyeva Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Founder of Baku Magazine
My homeland, Azerbaijan, is going through an unprecedented period of revival and nowhere is this more obvious than in the field of contemporary art, an area I am deeply passionate about. All my life I have enjoyed exploring contemporary art, from strolling round Tate Modern in London when I was growing up to investigating all the amazing works that we now have on display at the Museum of Modern Art in Baku. I love to draw and some of the most inspiring places I have visited in Baku are the studios overlooking the Caspian Sea, alive with artists creating new ideas and exuding excitement and ingenuity. Although today the revival of contemporary art is the focus of this exhibition, we have a long history of creativity and artistic endeavour in Azerbaijan. From the eleventh century, Baku has been an important trading post along the Silk Road, which shaped the city’s traditional culture in Zoroastrian, Christian and Islamic traditions. In the second half of the nineteenth century and in the early twentieth century, Azerbaijan underwent a cultural renaissance that drew on, among other influences, that golden age of the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries. Although there were periods where Azerbaijani art was more of an underground phenomenon, Azerbaijan is a country full of artists now hungry for inspiration, creativity and recognition. That is why I am so excited to be part of showcasing these amazing works to an international audience. Many of the works that you will see are by young artists and many have been created for this exhibition and so are on show for the first time. I hope that you will enjoy discovering this inspirational Azerbaijani art. So let the artists take you on a journey. Fly to Baku with us.