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TORA AGHABAYOVA Born Baku, 1979 Lives and works Baku

Tora Aghabayova graduated from the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art in Baku in 2004. She is a painter as well as being a production designer in the film industry. She worked as a props designer for Absurdistan, directed by Veit Helmer, and as a production designer for Police Station directed by  Ilgar Safat. Aghabayova teaches film production design at the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art.

Solo exhibitions 2011 ‘Double Meaning’, Kicik Qalart Gallery, Baku ‘Oil and Dreams’, Royal Opera House Arcade, London

Selected group exhibitions 2011 2010 2009 2007 2003 2000 1999 1998

‘On Soz’, Alternative Art Space, Baku ‘USSR Remix’, Tou Scene, Centre for Contemporary Art, Stavanger, Norway ‘BakUnlimited’, Cultural Days of Azerbaijan, Voltahalle, Basel, Switzerland ‘Omnia Mea’, Azerbaijan Pavilion, 52nd Venice Biennale, Venice ‘Caravan Sarai’, International Forum of Visual Art & Art Events, Tbilisi ‘Wings of Time’, Khagani Trading Centre, Baku ‘Sex 2000’, Art Manege, The Manege Central Exhibition Hall, Moscow ‘The Brain of Galapagos Tortoise’, performance, Benevolent Foundation for Aesthetic Development, Baku

Tora Aghabayova is very adept at ironically conveying contemporary

surrounding life keenly, in close-up and from an unexpected

issues by using one of the most grandiloquent styles of art – Socialist

vantage point.

Realism. “What I show is social realism”, she says of her artwork, but it would be too narrow to define her work simply as a parody of Soviet-

In Aghabayova’s paintings such as Caspian Vacation and Vacation, the

era Socialist Realism because it is also a true social realism of our

reality is so “real” that it is a slap in the face of status quo

time. As Tora herself says, “ These are commonplace situations from

philistinism. The same paintings and Caspian 1 also parody photos

our everyday lives, fragments of life. I’d say these are moments torn

from a family album while at the same time evoking in the viewer

out of life and expressed in my own language.”

associations with park statues of the Soviet era and imagery in the popular magazines of those years. These are not snapshots of holiday

Most of her paintings are large-scale – the artist seems to be forcing

scenes, but rather images of people posing for the photographer, not

viewers to face their own self-portrait. Therein lies the power of the

revealing their inner selves, but rather hiding behind a façade – a fit

artist’s sardonic approach – to break through the barriers of

allegory of Soviet society where life was lived within sets of rigid

consciousness and self-esteem and to show the absurdity of

rules and where there was no room for self expression.

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01/12/11 18.22

Fly to Baku - Contemporary Art from Azerbaijan  
Fly to Baku - Contemporary Art from Azerbaijan  

Exhibition January 17-29, 2012 Location Phillips de Pury & Company Howick Place, London SW1P 1BB