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FLY TO BAKU Contemporary Art from Azerbaijan 17–29 January 2012

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FLY TO BAKU Contemporary Art from Azerbaijan CURATED BY HERVÉ MIKAELOFF Aga Ousseinov Aida Mahmudova Ali Hasanov Altai Sadiqzadeh Eliyar Alimirzoyev Enver Askerov Faig Ahmed Fakhriyya Mammadova Farid Rasulov Huseyn Haqverdi Irina Eldarova Leyla Aliyeva Mammad Mustafayev Melik Aghamalov Mirnadir Zeynalov Niyaz Najafov Orkhan Huseynov Rashad Alakbarov Rashad Babayev Sanan Aleskerov Tora Aghabayova

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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.

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FOREWORD by Simon de Pury Chairman, Phillips de Pury & Company

During the summer of 2011, my wife Michaela and I went to Baku. This was our first trip to Azerbaijan’s capital, a city with a vibrant art scene. We went to visit many artists’ studios and were struck by their quality and originality. Thus the idea was born to organize an exhibition that would highlight the main talents of Azerbaijani contemporary art. We felt the best approach would be to ask a prominent and highly respected curator to select and curate an exhibition. We were pleased that Hervé Mikaeloff enthusiastically embraced this project. This catalogue and exhibition are the result of his exploration. We are very happy to stage this show in our magnificent premises at Howick Place in London since it is our pride at Phillips de Pury & Company to always be the first to present the best contemporary art from any part of the world.

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PREFACE by Hervé Mikaeloff Curator of ‘Fly to Baku’

“Fly to Baku: a trip to the heart of Azerbaijani contemporary art.” Advised by Michaela and Simon de Pury and invited by Leyla Aliyeva and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, I went to Baku during the second half of 2011 for an exploration of the art being made in the capital of Azerbaijan. Used to emerging artistic scenes, I was surprised by the dynamism of the people and the energy in the arts. Azerbaijan is a Caucasian country located on the dividing line between Europe and Asia. Independent since 1991, Azerbaijan has been able to establish itself as one of the most innovative countries in the region. Central Baku is composed of an old fortified town, registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage list with the Maiden Tower (Qiz Qalasi) and the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, since 2000. Opened in March 2009, Baku Museum of Modern Art presents more than 800 works by Azerbaijani painters and sculptors. The museum was designed as a total art work by the artist Altai Sadiqzadeh. The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, created by Zaha Hadid, should soon host an international conference centre, and be home to a library and spaces for art exhibitions. Its audacious architecture will complete a cultural centre that will turn Baku into a major destination. Rooted in a thousand-year-old past, the contemporary art of Azerbaijan reflects clearly the country’s cultural character – one that is full of life, colour and contrasts. The combination of abstraction and figurative art also reveals the deep influence of the international and Soviet avant-gardes of the beginning of the twentieth century. Thanks to the help of Emin Mammadov, artistic advisor of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and founder of Q Gallery, I had the opportunity during my visits to Baku to meet or to see works of more than a hundred artists. For the exhibition in London, we have decided to show a hundred works, most of which have been specially made for the exhibition by the twenty-one artists. Paintings, installations, videos, photographs, performances – the exhibition is like a snapshot of the contemporary art scene, with its wealth, its abundance, its contradictions and its authenticity. It will lift the veil off this new emerging and highly promising artistic scene so all visitors can fully appreciate the diversity of Azerbaijani contemporary art. I want to sincerely thank all the artists who agreed to participate in this exhibition and who have made this unveiling possible.

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INTRODUCTION by Emin Mammadov Artistic Advisor to the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and Director of Q Gallery, Baku

Azerbaijan has the unique destiny to become a bridge between East and West in a number of ways – economically, politically and, of course, culturally – and now Azerbaijan, which has gained and consolidated its independence, has a unique style in the arts. In the 1960s and 1970s, during which time the western world was being introduced to the professional world of modern art, Azerbaijan, like all other Soviet republics, was behind the Iron Curtain. Nevertheless, even during those years, an echo of these new trends in contemporary art materialized in Azerbaijan in the form of dissident art. Its core was the so-called Absheron School, which is now considered by experts to have been a cultural phenomenon of global importance. The artists of this school – including Kamal Ahmed, Tofiq Javadov, Javad Mirjavadov, Ashraf Muradov, Rasim Babayev, Gennadiy Brijatyuk and others – criticized the system and protested against the existing regime. A notable feature of this dissident Azerbaijani art was that the lion’s share of its followers were painters (including some graphic artists and sculptors), whereas in Europe, artists, moving away from classical techniques, were exploiting the latest technology. The period of the 1980s and 1990s became a starting point for the development of modern conceptual art in Azerbaijan. The most recent period of contemporary art in Azerbaijan, from around the year 2000, marks the emergence and development of conceptual art and it is the past decade which has given the country a fundamentally new direction of visual art. Conceptual art in this context is the art of new technologies and serious intellectual ideas which are far in advance of contemporary perception. Its best-known exponents around the world are for the most part members of the middle and older generations of artists now. However, the current conceptual art of Azerbaijan which developed over the past ten years, has been created mainly by younger artists. Since 2007, Azerbaijan has presented its contemporary art in its national pavilion at the Venice Biennale, and it has been from that foundational base that the contemporary art of Azerbaijan has emerged. Participating in the Venice Biennale for the third time in 2011, Azerbaijan exhibited works of mature, well-known Azerbaijani artists whose creative activity has achieved international renown, such as Altai Sadiqzadeh, Mikail Abdurrahmanov, Aydan Salakhova, Zeygam Azizov, Khanlar Gasimov and Aga Ousseinov. Despite the fact that the last four live abroad (in Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America), they all share an unbreakable connection with Baku, which has contributed significantly to the personalities of these artists and has made a very particular imprint on their work. Participation in the Biennale presents a new and valuable experience for curators and artists and creates new contacts that can take our contemporary art to new levels.

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Any commentary on modern art of Azerbaijan must, in my opinion, include a mention of the creation of the Museum of Modern Art in 2009. This project was initiated by Mehriban Aliyeva, First Lady of Azerbaijan, and the museum is now seen as the flagship of Azerbaijani contemporary art. The entire museum, with its unusual architecture and free exposure of paintings and sculptures, is itself the product of avant-garde art – the artist Altai Sadiqzadeh originated the concept of both the architecture and design of the museum, the selection and installation of the collection, and this exhibition. The museum displays over 800 works, mostly in the avant-garde style, and the internal architecture of the museum is created such that the museum has no closed spaces. The Museum of Modern Art offers unlimited opportunities for young Azeri artists, and also positively affects the development of creativity and contemporary art in Azerbaijan. It also allows foreign art lovers to experience in detail the modern art of our country, and to become acquainted with the works of our artists. Speaking about exhibitions of national art abroad, it is notable that the author of the idea behind the ‘Fly to Baku’ project is Leyla Aliyeva, Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. This project is distinguished not only by the careful selection and harmonious composition of its exhibited works, but also by its scale. At the present time, this is the largest exhibition of the contemporary art of Azerbaijan abroad. This truly momentous event will be held at a remarkable location – at the gallery space of Phillips de Pury & Company in London, with the assistance of Simon & Michaela de Pury, and Hervé Mikaeloff who is the project’s curator. The project is of inestimable value, as is the dedication of Leyla Aliyeva, in the significance it brings to the development of Azerbaijani art and its introduction to viewers far beyond our Republic. After all, visual art may, in accordance with the degree of democracy in our society, deliver to a foreign audience the response of Azerbaijani artists to current processes

Collection of Museum of Modern Art, Baku, Azerbaijan

in the country and show the modern face of Azerbaijan to the world.

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Tofiq Javadov,1925–63 Oil Workers, 1950 Oil on canvas; 250 × 300 cm

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Aga Ousseinov Aida Mahmudova Ali Hasanov Altai Sadiqzadeh Eliyar Alimirzoyev Enver Askerov Faig Ahmed Fakhriyya Mammadova Farid Rasulov

FLY TO BAKU Contemporary Art from Azerbaijan

Huseyn Haqverdi Irina Eldarova Leyla Aliyeva Mammad Mustafayev Melik Aghamalov Mirnadir Zeynalov Niyaz Najafov Orkhan Huseynov Rashad Alakbarov Rashad Babayev Sanan Aleskerov Tora Aghabayova

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AGA OUSSEINOV Born Baku, 1962 Lives and works New York

Aga Ousseinov graduated in 1986 with an MFA from the Surikov State Academic Art Institute in Moscow. Since 1991, he has lived and worked in New York, USA. His work includes sculpture, graphics, photo-collage and illustration, and uses a wide range of materials from fabric and rice paper to cement and plaster. Ousseinov represented Azerbaijan at the 54th Venice Biennale.

Selected solo exhibitions

Selected group exhibitions

2011 ‘In the Middle of Erewhon II’, Palazzo Benzon, 54th Venice Biennale, Venice 2010 ‘In the Middle of Erewhon’, Christopher Henry Gallery, New York 2009 ‘Self Portrait in Bathyscaphe and Other Loosely Connected Stories’, Christopher Henry Gallery, New York ‘Alternative Methods of Flying II,’ Hermès, Madison Avenue, New York 2008 ‘Alternative Flying Method’, Gallery MC, New York 2006 ‘Inventions’, Hermès, Madison Avenue, New York ‘Caspian Dreams’, Dinter Fine Art, New York 2005 ‘Aga Ousseinov: Sculptures’, Gallery MC, New York

2011 ‘ILLUMInazioni’, Palazzo Benzon, 54th Venice Biennale, Venice ‘1911’, Christopher Henry Gallery, New York ‘So Zik !’, Ober Gallery, Kent, CT, USA 2010 Art Basel/Miami, Christopher Henry Gallery, Miami Beach, FL, USA ‘USSR/Remix’, Tou Scene, Centre for Contemporary Art, Stavanger, Norway ‘Miseducation’, Brucennial 2010, New York ‘Work on Paper’, International Art Salon 2010, Krimsky Val, Moscow ‘Observers of the Flight’, Museum of Modern Art, Baku ‘Gallery Selections’, Ober Gallery, Kent, CT, USA 2009 ‘Aluminium 4’, International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Baku ‘The Map as Art’, Christopher Henry Gallery, New York ‘Kuf/Mold 2009’, Oud Charlois, Rotterdam, Netherlands ‘Fall Group Show’, Christopher Henry Gallery, New York ‘Smithumenta’, R. Smith Studio, Brooklyn New York ‘Lo Sguardo Obliquo’, Spazio Tadini, Milan, Italy ‘Grand Tour II’, Gallery MC, New York ‘Grafika’, Rajko Mamuzic Gallery, Novi Sad, Serbia 2008 ‘Religion Based Initiative’, Gallery MC, New York ‘Steps of Time’, Residenzschloss, Dresden, Germany ‘USSR-REMIX’, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Baku 2007 ‘Scope’, Christopher Henry Gallery, New York ‘Off the Wall’, Gallery MC, New York ‘Wu Tang/googolplex’, Gavin Brown’s Passerby, New York 2006 ‘No Justice Without Life’, Palazzo Leopardi, Rome ‘Drawn’, Dinter Fine Art, New York ‘Scope’, Hamptons, Dinter Fine Art 2005 ‘MUD’, Dinter Fine Art, New York ‘Grand Tour’, curated by Aga Ousseinov, Gallery MC, New York ‘Works on Paper’, Gallery MC, New York ‘Some Papers’, Polytechnic of Milan, Italy

Aga Ousseinov is an Azeri who has lived in New York for the past two

embark on a journey and escape from that world of utopian ideals.

decades, but who continues to retain ties to his native land. He exhibits

Produced with the use of linen, wire, burlap and fresco, the multilayered

actively in Baku and abroad and was among the artists representing

works convey a fragility and appeal to the viewer’s sense of humour.

Azerbaijan at the 2011 Venice Biennale. inventions, suggesting something imagined yet not realized. These

in his two-dimensional pieces. Inspired by Medieval, European and

“inventions” reference my early life in the Soviet Union, where hopes for

early Muslim scientific drawings, Ousseinov creates expressive,

utopian progress abounded. However, my archaic flying machines and

dream-like works, which he calls ‘inventions’ that pay homage to his life

ironic blueprints envision a world infected with a futile hope for progress.

in the Soviet Union. Through his poetic creations, which often

The absurdity and humour of these objects poke fun at ideological

incorporate vessels and other machines, the artist invites the viewer to

hubris, while affirming art as a space for imagining the impossible.”

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Photo by Irina Ryjak

“In my practice I create objects that appear as artifacts of past Ousseinov works in graphics and sculpture, and uses collage elements

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Artist’s studio

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All photographs by Irina Ryjak

Diving Lessons, 2009 Wood, wire, cloth, Polaroid images, light bulb, lenses and tempera; 183 Ă— 63 Ă— 96 cm

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Study for Portrait of Failed Arctic Explorer, 2009 Wood, wire, fresco on Hydrocal and magnifying glass; 64 × 42 × 24 cm

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Dismissed Invention #4, 2008

Dismissed Invention #3, 2008

Wire, burlap, linen, fresco on Hydrocal; 77 × 90 × 10 cm

Wire, burlap, linen, fresco on Hydrocal; 77 × 90 × 10 cm

On loan from the Museum of Modern Art, Baku, Azerbaijan

On loan from the Museum of Modern Art, Baku, Azerbaijan

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Grand Phthalo Tour, 2011, in studio during making Wire, burlap, linen, fresco on Hydrocal; 77 × 107 × 10 cm

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AIDA MAHMUDOVA Born Baku, 1982 Lives and works Baku and London

Aida Mahmudova graduated from the American Intercontinental University with a BA Degree in Fashion Marketing in 2009. In 2006 she graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London with a BA Degree in Fine Art. Mahmudova works within a number of genres including painting, photography and installation art. She is the organiser and leader of the non-governmental organisation The Space of Contemporary Art ‘YARAT’, which aims to support and develop contemporary Azerbaijani art in its home country and abroad.

Solo exhibitions 2006 Solo exhibition, in collaboration with pianist Murad Adygezalzade, devoted to the 120th jubilee of Uzeir Hajibekov, Azerbaijan State Filarmonia, Baku 2002 Q Gallery, Baku

Selected group exhibitions 2011 ‘On Soz’, Alternative Art Space, Baku ‘Contemporary works of Azerbaijan, the Land of Fire’, Hotel d’Evreux, Paris Participation in the 1st International Festival of Arts, ‘Maiden Tower’, Baku

A meditative contemplation on life’s flow … fragmentary

aestheticized morsels of existence. Our everyday rhythm of life in the

impressions … impulsive thoughts … reality perceived figuratively,

world of consumerism and mass culture, oppresses us by imposing its

associatively … life that meanders on and passes by …

own rules, taking away our most precious trait – our individuality.

Plug in your imagination and pretend you are aboard a Being 787

Delving into the inner-self, we begin to realize the true value of life

equipped to break through all boundaries – both in space and time,

and acquire the ability to see. The unconscious and the rational, the

travelling into the universe of our subconscious. Shielded from the

spiritual and the material – this dualism of our existence can only

entire world this capsule depicts onto the screens of our memory,

be experienced in the state of equilibrium. Each person must define

a retrospective of events and experiences. They manifest themselves in

their own boundary. She approaches an artistic path by discovering

our consciousness as brief flashes or more lengthy episodes. The usual

herself through interpretations of the interaction between herself and

picture frames suddenly begin to transform the mundane, turning it into

the environment.

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Being 787, 2011 Mixed media including foam, 9 televisions, 9 DVD players and DVDs; 200 × 300 × 230 cm This work is unique (Image shows 3-D rendering of exterior)

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(Image shows 3-D rendering of interior of Being 787)

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Stills from Being 787

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Stills from Being 787

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ALI HASANOV Born Baku, 1976 Lives and works Baku and Moscow

Ali Hasanov is an artist, musician and filmmaker who works on art projects in both Azerbaijan and abroad. He graduated from the Azerbaijani State University of Culture and Art and received a degree in filmmaking from Rustam Ibragimbekov's Baku International Film School. Since then, he has pioneered performance art in Azerbaijan and represented his country at the 52nd Venice Biennale. He is also the founder and leader of a musical collective called PG Large Used Project. Hasanov remains active in various genres such as visual and performance art, video and sound installations, as well as painting and drawing.

Selected group exhibitions and projects 2011 ‘On Soz’, Alternative Art Space, Baku ‘Takeaway/Prisoner’ and ‘The Great Caucasus’, performance installations, Perm Museum of Contemporary Art, Perm, Russia ‘Sonnet XXX / Initiation’, short film (7 min) (director and art director), Union of Cinematographers, Baku 2010 ‘Stems from the Drift’, short film (6 min) (director and art director), Union of Cinematographers, Baku 2009 ‘Think of the Radio’ and ‘Appointment’, video installations, DEPO, Istanbul ‘Cathedral Spy’ solo exhibition, Protvor Gallery, Saint Petersburg, Russia ‘Sentencia’, performance, Mars Gallery, Moscow 2007 ‘Air Mail’ video, Art Caucasus International Art Forum, Tbilisi ‘OMNIA MEA’, 52nd Venice Biennale, Venice 2006 ‘Keelcoushe’, performance, Rogaland Art Centre, Stavanger, Norway ‘Art Caucasus’, National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Moscow ‘Keelcoushe’, performance, ‘East or West’ International Art Festival, Museum of Art, Die, France 2005 ‘A Memorable Unit’, performance, Museum Centre, Baku ‘Blood with Milk’, performance, French Cultural Centre, Baku 2002 ‘PG Large Used Project’ and ‘Fridarumental 8000th Probe’, musical project, Gender+Theatre Music Art Festival, R. Beybutov Song Theatre, Baku 1999 ‘Sex 2000’, Art Manege, Moscow Air Paws performance, Baku Art Centre, Baku 1998 ‘The Brain of a Galapagos Tortoise’, performance, Benevolent Foundation for Aesthetic Development, Baku

A graduate of the Azimzadeh State Art College and Azerbaijan State

crawling into a black robe. It was a tragic image of a ‘Spider Man’,

University of Culture and Art in Baku, Ali Hasanov was known as the

gasping in a narrow space, and saving himself by embracing his

brash nonconformist even back in his student years, and has since

own identity, by finding a way out of an amorphous dark structure.

become known as a man who thinks outside the box. Hasanov is also

This piece symbolizes the path of Azerbaijan in its struggle for

interested in poetry, rock music and film direction. He became the

independence.

first performance artist to practice in Azerbaijan and he is a member of the creative association Wings of Time. His work can often be seen

Similar motifs resonate through the performance work illustrated

at the Museum Centre of Azerbaijan and has been exhibited both

here, Scatterheart. Here also, the language of body movement and

in Azerbaijan (Baku and Ganja), and abroad in Russia, Georgia,

music merges into a laconic installation, illustrating the path

France, Norway, Greece and Italy.

to freedom. But this time it is the path of a creative soul, which, escapes the confines of a certain core, of a ‘shelter’ (by destroying it),

Hasanov was among the artists who represented Azerbaijan at the

and searches for its place in the surrounding world to find its own

Venice Biennale in 2007. His performance art showed a creature

niche and to fit into it.

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Scatterheart, 2011

The performance-installation Scatterheart is a 30-minute action consisting

Mixed media including wood, metal, mattress and two television screens;

of four main parts: time, place, the artist’s body and the spectator. The work

dimensions variable

is supported by a retro-style video which is shown on two monitors and by live

(Image shows a 3-D rendering)

music. The central element of the work is a heart-shaped wooden structure which is the focus of a system of allegories and metaphors and whose meaning is transformed during the performance. The artist follows a choreographed movement accompanied by music. He is initially located within the wooden heart. Using his body to lean the structure over, he breaks through its wall and escapes. The remaining action sees the artist making his way from the structure to a mattress against the far wall. The mattress has a body-shaped profile burned into it, and the artist’s ultimate aim is to fit himself against this profile. Through the artist’s own language and choreographed behaviour, Scatterheart presents an uncompromising vision through a protracted ritualised action.

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Scatterheart, 2011 Mixed media; dimensions variable (Image shows a 3-D rendering)

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ALTAI SADIQZADEH Born Baku, 1951 Lives and works Baku

Altai Sadiqzadeh studied at the Azimzadeh State Art College in Baku. He continued his education at the Faculty of Painting at the Surikov State Academic Art Institute in Moscow in 1971–77. The scope of Sadiqzadeh’s artistic practice includes pictorial and graphic work, sculpture and installation, and his work has been featured in  many exhibitions since the 1970s. He has been a member of the Union of Artists of the USSR since 1979 and a member of Baku Arts Centre since 1988. His works are held in national and private collections in Azerbaijan, Belgium, France, Germany, Iran, Israel, Norway, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the USA. During 2008–09, he was the designer, with the French architect Jean Nouvel, of the Museum of Modern Art in Baku.

Solo exhibitions and projects

Group exhibitions

2011 ‘22HX’, Modern Art Museum, Baku 2007 Launch of the book ‘Painting and Sketch’ by A. Sadiqzadeh, Librairie Flammarion Centre, Centre Pompidou, Paris ‘Bindalli Sanat Evi’, Huma Kabakchi Collection, Istanbul 2005 Q Gallery, Baku 2003 Spiller Vincenty Gallery, Jacksonville, FL, USA 2002 Gallery of International Art, Beijing 2001 Q Gallery, Baku 2000 Humay Gallery, London 1999 Pedestrian Gallery of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, FL, USA State Museum of Fine Arts, Baku Van Droff Gallery, Jacksonville, FL, USA 1995 Baku Arts Centre, Baku 1994 Le Palais des Papes, Avignon, France Baku Arts Centre, Baku L’Orangerie Gallery, Saint Paul de Vence, France 1993 Les Palais des Papes, Aviqnon, France Sattar Bahlulzade Central Exhibition Hall, Baku 1992 Galerie L’Orangerie, Saint Paul de Vence, France 1988 Baku Arts Centre, Baku 1981 International symposium, Pochitel, Yugoslavia

2011 ‘Contemporary works of Azerbaijan, the Land of Fire’, Hôtel d’Evreux, Paris Palazzo Benzon, 54th Venice Biennale, Venice 2010 ‘Observer of the Fly’, curator and participant, Modern Art Museum, Baku 2004 ‘Istanbul Art’, International Contemporary Art Exposition, Istanbul 2003 ‘Grands et Jeunes d’aujourd’hui’, 43ème salon, Espace Auteuil, Paris 1999 Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, FL, USA 1990 Galerie L’Orangerie, Saint Paul de Vence, France 1977 All-Union exhibition, The Manege Central Exhibition Hall, Moscow

Altai Sadiqzadeh was responsible for the concept behind the

constructions entitled The Mechanics of Space. This artist creates

architectural design of the Museum of Modern Art in Baku. The

his sculptures as if they were multi-dimensional paintings. His work

interior space, with its sloping walls and without doors or corners,

exemplifies a new discovery of the world through its colourful,

was designed especially with avant-garde art in mind, allowing the art

self-constructing text, teeming with ‘apparatuses’, hieroglyphs,

and the building containing it to enjoy a symbiosis. His sculptural

esoteric epistles, palm trees, anthropomorphic machines, extra-

metal constructions, installations and painted canvases are

terrestrial ‘guardians’, star observers and people.

incorporated into the museum. He has also been instrumental in selecting the museum’s collection and curating its exhibitions.

At the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, Sadiqzadeh exhibited his monumental ‘cosmic’ canvases and sculptures at the Azerbaijan

Sadiqzadeh is primarily known as a painter, who also engages

Pavilion. Looking at them, one sees humanity through the eyes

in graphic work and stage design. In recent years, his flexible and

of other worlds and it becomes evident that the possibilities

visual imagination has led him to explore his ideas in monumental

of individual freedom and creative art forms are endless and cannot

three-dimensional art objects – the series of welded metal

be limited by anything.

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The Thinker, 2011 Iron, enamel paint; 200 Ă— 110 Ă— 90 cm

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Persona RR12, 2011

Persona RR21, 2011

Acrylic on canvas; 160 × 100 cm

Acrylic on canvas; 160 × 100 cm

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[clockwise from top left] Azneft, Baku, 2011 Black and white acrylic on canvas; 100 × 120 cm Liberty Square, Baku, 2011 Black and white acrylic on canvas; 100 × 160 cm Independence Avenue, Baku, 2011 Black and white acrylic on canvas; 100 × 120 cm The Old Yacht-Club, Baku, 2011 Black and white acrylic on canvas; 100 × 160 cm

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ELIYAR ALIMIRZOYEV Born Qusari, Azerbaijan, 1961 Lives and works Baku

Eliyar Alimirzoyev graduated from Azimzadeh State Art College in Baku in 1981. Since 1988, Alimirzoyev has been a member of the Union of Artists of the USSR and the Union of Artists of Azerbaijan. He was a founder of the art group Labyrinth. He works with painting, graphics, and installations which incorporate antique furniture and objects. He worked for two months in 2001 and again in 2002 in war-torn East Timor. There the artist painted his thematic works, including landscapes and portraits that reflect particularities of the island’s nature and inhabitants – Alimirzoyev became the first artist working in East Timor to have held a solo exhibition there. In 2006, he was recognised as an Honorary Artist of Azerbaijan. His works are in the collections of the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; Funen Art Museum, Odense, Denmark; The Union of Artists of Russia; The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation; The Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan; The Albertina, Vienna; and Tomsk State Museum, Russia.

Solo exhibitions 2011 ‘Art Pearls’, exhibition with Van Cleef & Arpels, Modern Art Museum, Baku 2008 Q Gallery, Baku 2001 Q Gallery, Baku Dili, East Timor 1996 V. Samedova Exhibition Hall, Union of Artists of Azerbaijan, Baku

Selected group exhibitions 2011 2005 2004 2003 1999 1998 1991

1990

1989 1988

‘Harmony’, exhibition of Azeri artists, YEOSAMI Cultural Centre, Seoul ‘Homme et Femme’, Museum Centre, Baku ‘Modern Art of Azerbaijan’, Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C. ‘Grands et Jeunes’, Gran-Prix, France International exhibition of a miniature, First Place, Gornji Milanovac, Serbia ‘Eurasian Zone, Art Manege ’99’, The Manege Central Exhibition Hall, Moscow ‘Contemporary Art of Azerbaijan’, World Bank, Washington, D.C. ‘Exhibition of Young Artist’, Inselshtrasse-13 Gallery, Berlin ‘7+7’, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen Art Museum, Kiev ‘New Circle’, Martin Luther King Library, Washington, D.C. ‘Exhibition of Avantgarde’, Krakow, Poland ‘Painting’, Beijing ‘Soviet Art’, Seoul ‘All-Union Exhibition of Art’, Central House of Artists, Moscow ‘Modern Art of Azerbaijan’, Central House of Artists, Moscow

Alimirzoyev’s ethereal canvases remind one of the texture of

traditional theme notwithstanding, is profoundly original

dreams – gilded, saturated, bright, yet elusive. Even in his still

in execution – it is a huge canvas, to which thirteen ordinary

lifes, a rather classical and conservative genre, this talented

buckets are attached by their bottoms. Densely covered with gold

painter has retained his signature manner of painting, his stylistic

leaf, they resemble wells, and at the bottom of eleven of them

originality. The pastiche of the old masters harmonises with the

there are painted representations of hand movements, expressive

fundamental ideas of modern art. This same bridge through time

in varying degrees. These are the symbolic portraits of the

is evoked upon viewing Alimirzoyev’s landscapes, with their

apostles. In the central well, the viewer can glimpse the outlines

ghostly worlds, that differ ever so slightly from the real universe.

of Christ’s face coming through the darkness. At the bottom of the thirteenth well, in the place of Judas, there is a mirror that

Other works by this master force the viewer to ponder the depths

invites the viewer to see their reflection and become part of

of mankind’s problems. His outrageous Last Supper, the

the work.

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Last Supper, 2005 Oil and acrylic on wood, metal buckets and mirror; 150 × 150 × 80 cm

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Witnesses, 2011 Oil and acrylic on wood, metal buckets and mirror; 150 × 150 × 80 cm

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ENVER ASKEROV Born Baku, 1940 Lives and works Baku

In 1963, Enver Askerov graduated from Azimzadeh State Art College in Baku and in 1968 from the Mukhin High Art and Industrial Academy in St Petersburg, where he studied in the faculty of Artistic Treatment of Metal. In 1969, he received third prize at the Moscow All-Union Youth Exhibition for Pipe and third prize at the Moscow All-Union ‘Earth and People’ exhibition for Organ of Absheron in 1979. In 1993, Askerov was awarded the prestigious Sultan Muhammad award by the Union of Artists of Azerbaijan.

Solo exhibitions 2003 V. Samedova Exhibition Hall, Union of Artists of Azerbaijan, Baku 1995 S. Bahlulzade Exhibition Hall, Baku

Selected group exhibitions 2009 1998 1994 1985

‘BakUnlimited, Cultural Days of Azerbaijan’, Voltahalle, Basel, Switzerland ‘Contemporary Artists from Azerbaijan’, The World Bank, Washington, D.C. International Symposium on the painting of the Black Sea, Istanbul All-Union Exhibition of the 40th anniversary of Victory over Nazi Germany

Representing the older generation of Azerbaijani artists, the

– yellow, red and green. Black is often introduced, adding

famous painter Enver Askerov was accepted in the Union of Artists

sometimes confidence and at other times a rebellious restlessness

of Azerbaijan in 1968 as well as the Union of Artists of the USSR.

to the compositions. Geometrism and monumentalism, like an echo

His works have been shown many times both in Azerbaijan and

of past artistic passions, make an appearance here and there.

abroad, in the USA, Switzerland, Russia and in other countries.

Op-art canvases alternate with landscapes, in which realism and

This artist’s works have been purchased by numerous national and

mysticism are tightly interwoven. Besides canvases, in the past

private collections.

decade Askerov has ventured into producing screens. Like most of his paintings these are often influenced by Op-art.

Since 1967, when Askerov first exhibited his works in a public forum with an industrial landscape, Pipes, his work has undergone several

The two works illustrated here reflect one of the current directions

major permutations. Early in his career he preferred industrial

of his work. The mild irony of his world view lets one see an allegory

monumentalism, which was soon to be replaced by his period

of the human soul in compositions that show the face of a container.

of geometric still lifes, and later still he embraced Op-art. At this

“Handle with care!” they proclaim, issuing is a warning about the

stage of his career, his palette is firmly rooted in nature’s colours

vulnerability of an individual, especially that of an artistic one.

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Untitled, 2011 Oil on canvas; 130 × 150 cm Untitled, 2011 Oil on canvas; 130 × 130 cm

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FAIG AHMED Born Baku, 1982 Lives and works Baku

Faig Ahmed graduated from the Sculpture faculty at the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art in Baku in 2004. Since 2003, he has been working with various media, including painting, video and installation. Currently, he is studying the artistic qualities of Azerbaijani traditional rugs – he disassembles their conventional structure and randomly rearranges the resulting components of the traditional composition then combines these fragments with contemporary sculptural forms.

Group exhibitions 2011 ‘On Soz’, Alternative Art Space, Baku 2008 ‘Fabulous Four’, Kichik QalArt Gallery, Baku ‘Steps of time, Contemporary Art from Azerbaijan’, Azerbaijani Cultural Year in Germany, Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, Dresden, Germany 2007 ‘Aluminium 3’, International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Baku Azerbaijan Pavilion, 52nd Venice Biennale, Venice 2006 ‘Caucasus’, National Centre of Contemporary Art, Moscow

It can be said without exaggeration that the young artist Faig Ahmed,

Model

a graduate of the Academy of Arts, has already been able to find his own niche in national contemporary art. This is a feat achieved by very few. A sculptor by training, he was able to find a new area of commonality between two such diverse spheres of art as abstract

Diameter is 30 cm 150 cm

sculpture and classical Azeri rug making. Ahmed’s work was among those that represented the art of Azerbaijan at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007. That was the first year Azerbaijan took part in this famous art festival, and so the nation’s pavilion included works that

Woollen carpet

most vividly incorporated the country’s ancient and medieval art in its modern expression. The works Ahmed have been also shown in Baku, Dresden and Moscow. 150 cm

Combining in unexpected ways the geometry of a loomed rug and the

Base of sculpture is polyester

stereometry of sculpture, Ahmed has found a profound correlation between the two. The artist repeatedly gives form to this idea when he creates a series of rug designs on metal. The warm and colourful rug compositions superimposed onto metal, a high-tech material, can be interpreted as the fear of emasculation of the national idea in the world today, or as the delightful persistence of the same traditional

Curved, 2011 Plastic and handmade woollen carpet; 150 × 150 × 30 cm This work is from an edition of 3 (Image shows 3-D rendering)

ideas. Ahmed has taken these spatial, three-dimensional compositions to a more refined understanding of this idea, in which stereometric figures have ornaments of Azerbaijani rugs on their surfaces and on which sections of carpet designs from various regions of Azerbaijan can be found.

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Wave, 2011 Plastic and handmade woollen carpet; 230 Ă— 200 Ă— 80 cm This work is from an edition of 3 (Image shows 3-D rendering)

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The artist in his studio

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Section, 2011 Plastic and handmade woollen carpet; 150 Ă— 230 Ă— 150 cm This work is from an edition of 3 (Image shows 3-D rendering)

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FAKHRIYYA MAMMADOVA Born Baku, 1974 Lives and works Baku

Fakhriyya Mammadova is an artist-designer and photographer. She graduated from the Design faculty of the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art in Baku in 2005. She has been a member of the Union of Artists of Azerbaijan from 2002 and a member of the Union of Photographers of Azerbaijan from 2004. She does restoration work on ceramics and sculpture and experiments with macro-photography. In her photo installations, Mammadova uses objects and materials of differing textures. Her first work of this kind was shown in the exhibition ‘Wings of Time’ in Baku in 2000. Currently, Mammadova works with conceptual photography which aims to capture the transitory moments of life.

Solo exhibition 2010 ‘Temporary’, Kichik QalArt Gallery, Baku

Selected group exhibitions 2010 ‘Photofest 2010’, Open Air, Old City, Tbilisi ‘7’, Museum of Contemporary Art, Baku 2009 ‘Transformation’ at ‘Aluminium 4’, International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Baku ‘BakUnlimited’, Cultural Days of Azerbaijan, Voltahalle, Basel, Switzerland ‘Artisterium’, International Festival of Contemporary Art, Carvasla, Old City, Tbilisi Transkaukazja Festival, Kordegarda Gallery, Warsaw ‘M’artian Fields – Collaboration’, Mars Gallery, Moscow 2008 ‘Urban Jealousy’, the 1st International Roaming Biennial of Tehran ‘Steps of Time’, Azerbaijani Culture Days in Germany, National Gallery, Dresden, Germany 2006 ‘Caucasus’, NCCA, Moscow ‘East or West’, International Art Festival, Museum of Art, Die, France ‘Deciding Instant’, Manezh Central Exhibition Hall, St Petersburg, Russia 2005 ‘Art Caucasus 2005, International Actual Art Convention beyond Stereotypes’, Carvasla, Tbilisi 3rd Tashkent International Biennale, Central Exhibition Hall, Tashkent 2000 ‘Wings of Time’, Khagani Trading Centre, Baku

Photo artist Fakhriyya Mammadova is well known in the art world of

Russia, Germany, and, of course, her native Azerbaijan – collectors in

Azerbaijan and beyond. A ceramist and designer by training, she

these countries have had the opportunity to become acquainted with

is a member of the Union of Artists of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan

Mammadova’s art. Her works are full of personal revelation, creating

Association of Photographers, as well as the Wings of Time

an intimate discourse with the audience, and emphasizing the

association, which brings together contemporary artists in Azerbaijan.

individuality of opinion. She does it without affected pretence, nor does she force her opinion on the audience but rather invites them,

The camera becomes an instrument of boundless possibility in the

subtly, to form their own – these are the primary points

hands of Mammadova, an imaginative designer, who possesses the

of Mammadova’s creative credo.

diligence of a restoration expert, with the latter’s ability to see beauty and significance in the most minute detail. With such skills, unlimited

A Few Days with Anya is a work of conceptual photography, marked

vistas of creative development beckon. Since the early 2000s,

by laid-back diary-style prints. But each image that comprises the

Mammadova’s work has been a permanent fixture in Azerbaijani art

work captures the viewer with its attention to detail, which builds to

exhibitions. Georgia, Turkey, France, USA, Uzbekistan, Ukraine,

create a stereoscopic effect of mental perception.

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A Few Days with Anya, 2009 Twenty-four C-prints mounted on aluminium; each 50 × 50 cm This work is from an edition of 9

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Detail

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Déjà vu, 2008 C-print; 30 × 150 cm This work is from an edition of 9

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FARID RASULOV Born Baku, 1985 Lives and works Baku

Farid Rasulov graduated from Azerbaijan State Medical University in 2006. In 2007, having decided to step aside from medicine, he started to actively engage with contemporary art, a decision that led to his participation in the 53rd Venice Biennale. Rasulov is an energetic, hardworking artist who works actively in the various media – painting, 3-D graphics, animation, sculpture and installation.

Solo exhibition 2010 ‘Thing’, Kichik QalArt Gallery, Baku

Group exhibitions 2011 ‘On Soz’, Alternative Art Space, Baku 'Fabulous Four’, Kichik QalArt Gallery, Baku 2010 ‘Contemporary Art of Azerbaijan’, Aidan Gallery, Moscow ‘Fired Up’, Gazelli Art House, London 2009 ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’, Azerbaijan Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale 2008 ‘Steps of Time’, Residenzschloss, Azerbaijan Cultural Days, Dresden, Germany ‘Art is Not Only Ugly’, Azerbaijan Cultural Days, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Berlin 2007 ‘Aluminium 3’, International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Baku

A doctor by training, Farid Rasulov suddenly became involved in the

nothing, that he simply replicated the commonplace things that

visual arts after his graduation from university, to the great surprise

he saw around him. “My work is based on the fact that I do not take

of his friends and family and made great strides in a relatively short

it seriously – and neither do I take seriously the things I portray,” says

period of time. His artistic path began at the national ‘Aluminium’

Rasulov. “I often observe how the viewers carefully scrutinize

Biennale (2007), continued to Berlin (‘Azerbaijani Cultural Days’,

my works, searching for the hidden meaning therein. This is

2008), then on to Moscow (Fields of Mars Gallery, 2009; Aidan

fascinating to watch, because what they’re looking for does not exist.”

Gallery, 2010), Basel (2009), and finally to Venice for the 2009 Biennale, which represented the remarkable breakthrough for

“When people ask me why I painted this or that, I say, ‘Just because!’”

contemporary Azerbaijani art.

But we all understand that although he paints simple things, he does not only do so “just because”. In his new triptych, where objects and

His works are usually intellectually provocative. Not accidentally, this

their inner world take centre stage, is not only an invitation

conceptual artist stubbornly denies charges of his art being multi-

to contemplate the seen, but to consider the deceptive simplicity

layered and profound. He insists that he has meant absolutely

of our everyday life.

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Untitled, 2011 Triptych: oil on canvas; 200 × 700 cm, 200 × 800 cm, 200 × 700 cm (Image shown is a 3-D rendering)

The artist in his studio

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HUSEYN HAQVERDI Born Baku, 1956 Lives and works Baku

Huseyn Haqverdi graduated from Azimzadeh State Art College in Baku in 1975 and from the Mukhin High Art and Industrial Academy in St Petersburg in 1980. Haqverdi has worked with different media, including sculpture, drawing and created monumental art. He produced the statue of St. Maria at the Catholic cathedral in Baku and a monumental mosaic panel of the Caspian legend in the Sangachal oil terminal. In 2003 he was named the Honoured Artist of Azerbaijan.

Solo exhibitions 2011 ‘Metamorphoses’, Yeni Gallery, Baku 2004 ‘Who?’, Q Gallery, Baku 1998 ‘Refugee People’, L.I.P.A. Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Selected group exhibitions and symposiums 2007 2004 2003 1998 1997 1995 1994

‘Virtual Army’ project of ‘Landart’, Ushguli, Georgia ‘Fortress’ project of ‘Landart’, Khevsureti, Georgia ‘Island’ project of ‘Landart’, Nargin, Azerbaijan ‘Contemporary Art of Azerbaijan’, World Bank, Washington, D.C. ‘Birlikde-zusammen’, Dresden Bank, Mainz, Germany International Symposium on Sculpture, Hamti Cannadian University, Hamti, India International Symposium on Sculpture, Lapideya, Majen, Germany ‘Exhibition of Azeri Artists’, Pales des Papes, Avignon, France 1988 International Symposium on Sculpture, City Park, Valmiera, Latvia 1980 International Symposium on Sculpture, Izmir Park, Baku

Haqverdi is equally proficient in sculpture, graphic work and painting.

topic in depth, highlighting its most significant aspects and ignoring

In addition, he is an avid photographer and video artist. However, he

the trivialities.

is known to the majority of people, both in Azerbaijan and abroad, primarily as a sculptor and it was as such that he has participated,

Throughout the past decade, Haqverdi has participated increasingly

in numerous exhibitions and symposiums both in Azerbaijan and

often in group exhibitions and solo shows, showcasing his graphic

abroad since 1980.

works and paintings as well as his particular concept of visual art. The huge canvases on which space is intricately distorted, reflect

Haqverdi has many smaller sized sculptures. However, he is equally

the multi-dimensional mosaic of the world. The most striking

successful in monumental works. Thus, his mosaic The Legend of the

examples are his photographic compositions and video art for

Caspian Sea was perfectly integrated into the territory of the

a project on which he collaborated with several other Azerbaijani

Sangachal oil and gas terminal. Haqverdi is also the artist who

artists entitled ‘USSR-remix’. Utilizing the same principle – uniting,

created the statue of the Virgin Mary adorning the Baku Catholic

as in a mosaic, diverse fragments to create a single composition

Church. The generalized, laconic form of this massive sculpture

– he has approached his abstract monochromatic composition

is a reflection of Haqverdi’s general artistic taste. He develops any

Our Time, which consists of five parts.

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Our Time, 2011 (detail)

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Our Time, 2011 Pentaptych: acrylic on canvas; each 140 × 140 cm

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The artist in his studio

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IRINA ELDAROVA Born Moscow, Russia, 1955 Lives and works Baku

Irina Eldarova attended the Repin State Academy of Fine Arts, Sculpture and Architecture in St Petersburg in 1975–79 and the Surikov State Academic Art Institute in Moscow in 1980–82 where she was a student of Boris Dexterev. Eldarova worked as a book illustrator straight after completing her studies. Her active artistic carrier not only includes painting – she also works on developing artistic concepts for major publishing projects in Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In 2007, Eldarova was awarded the prize of the Union of Journalists of Kazakhstan for the best Media Project published by Kazakhstan State Book. She developed a design project that included monumental marble reliefs for the underground station Halglar Dostlugu in Baku. Eldarova also works with photography, video art, journalism and teaches photo design at Western University in Baku.

Solo exhibitions 2010 ‘Hello! This is me’, Museum Centre, Baku 2007 ‘Fire Worshippers’, Baku Centre of Arts, Baku 1998 ‘Aggressive Still-Life’, Humay Gallery, London

Selected group exhibitions 2010 ‘Philosophy of Spring’, Museum Centre, Baku ‘Summer Vernissage’, Museum Centre, Baku ‘Azerbaijani Art on the Cusp of the Centuries’, Museum Centre, Baku 2009 ‘Black and White’, Museum Centre, Baku ‘To be a Woman’, International Exhibition-Forum, Contemporary Art Centre, Baku 2007 ‘Craft as Art and Art as Craft’, XII International Art Symposium, Shaki, Azerbaijan ‘Aluminium 3’, International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Baku 2006 ‘Visual Arts’, First Ganja International Festival, Khan’s Garden, Ganja, Azerbaijan 2001 Humay Gallery, London [the first exhibition of Azerbaijani and Kazakhstani artists in London]

Irina Eldarova began her artistic career as an illustrator at the

monumental scale. A particular and unique area of her work

Children’s Literature Publishing House. She participated in many

is dedicated to the symbiosis of the miniature and the monumental,

exhibitions in the former Soviet Union and abroad. Her works are part

such as can be found in her large composition consisting of small

of the Tretyakov Gallery collection in Moscow, the Russian Academy

square canvases of less than half a metre each.

of Fine Arts, the Museum of Modern Art in Baku, the Mustafayev Museum of Arts, the Baku Arts Centre and various private

A number of works by Eldarova are unabashedly objectivist. Sometimes

collections. The artist has participated in many famous domestic art

these even become a series (for example the series dedicated to great

forums and symposiums. She has also collaborated with a number

men in history, depicting Churchill, Khrushchev, Kennedy and Sarkozy).

of international media outlets and is currently the art director for

Nevertheless, many of her works are, as a rule, thematically

Caspian Publishing House. Since 1996, Eldarova has been a member

independent paintings of which the Emotional Splash series is a good

of the British Association of Journalists.

example. The lack of objects in these compositions does not preclude them from having a mantra-like effect on the viewer – the interplay

She works in various media, including watercolours, but most of her

among localized patches of colour and separate lines mesmerizes the

works are executed in mixed media on a large, sometimes

viewer and submerges him into a parallel world.

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Main Square No. 6 from the series Emotional Splash, 2011 Acrylic, graphite, coal on plywood; 152 × 152 cm (detail)

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The artist in her studio

SMS-3173345 No. 12 from the series Emotional Splash, 2011

Any Stripes, Any Colors No. 8 from the series Emotional Splash, 2011

Acrylic, graphite, coal on plywood; 152 × 152 cm

Acrylic, graphite, coal on plywood; 152 × 152 cm

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Striped Love No. 11 from the series Emotional Splash, 2011 Acrylic, graphite, coal on plywood; 152 × 152 cm

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LEYLA ALIYEVA Born Moscow, 1985 Lives and works Baku, London, Moscow

Leyla Aliyeva is a graduate of the MA programme in World Politics at Moscow State University of International Relations. She divides her time between Baku, Moscow and London, where she lives with husband Emin Agalarov and their twin sons. In 2007, she established Baku Magazine in 2007, published in Moscow in Russian and recently launched in collaboration with Condé Nast as an English-language quarterly publication. She is Vice President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, set up in honour of her late grandfather, the former President of Azerbaijan, with the mission of promoting Azerbaijan’s rich culture throughout the world. As an artist herself, Aliyeva’s pen-and-ink drawings are indicative of her diverse heritage. Featured in the first issue of Baku Magazine, these highly personal illustrations show the importance of art in Leyla’s day-to-day life, whether as patron, or as an avid fan, or as a means of selfexpression. She is also founder of the IDEA (International Dialogue for Environmental Action) campaign established to promote public awareness of environmental issues. She is also General Co-ordinator of the OIC Youth Forum on Intercultural dialogue. Her artworks are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Baku.

Group exhibition 2011 Participant in the 2nd ‘Qiz Qalasi’ (Maiden Tower) International Art Festival

The graphic works of Leyla Aliyeva merge a poetic lyricism and the

where lyrical images of Oriental beauties come to life, at times

malleable language of Azerbaijani miniatures and often serve

refined and subtle, at other times dramatic and expressive.

as illustrations for her own poetry. The expressiveness of her work originates from the interaction of an elegant drawing style and the

Her graphic works also resound with themes of love and passion, and

smoothness of line, the subtle ornamentation of dimensional

are similarly marked with sensuality and expressiveness.There

compositions in which the mood is set by the colour palette – in some

is a mesmerizing attraction in her work entitled Shadows, in which

it is bright and decorative, in others it is more monochromatic. The

a gesture, a dropped gaze, a sigh released from the scarlet petals of lips,

patterned imagery in the miniatures beckon the observer to a surreal

all amid a whirlwind of black-and-white rhythm of emotions, give birth

world of fantasies and dreams, of an idealised, fairy-land existence

to a love that is liberated from the shackles of gravity.

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Shadows, 2011 Mixed media on paper; 29 × 41 cm

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Illustration, 2011 Mixed media on paper; 29.7 Ă— 20.5 cm

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Illustration, 2011 Mixed media on paper; 29.8 Ă— 21 cm

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MAMMAD MUSTAFAYEV Born Baku, 1948 Lives and works Baku

Mammad Mustafayev graduated from Azimzadeh State Art College in Baku in 1968 and Azerbaijan State Institute of Architecture, where he studied in the Faculty of Construction and Design, in 1975. From 1969 Mustafayev participated in exhibitions in the Republic and across the USSR. Since 1978 he has been a member of the Union of Artists of the USSR. In 2001 he was named the Honoured Artist of Azerbaijan. Between 1972 and 1975, Mustafayev exhibited in the National Gallery in Krakow, Poland, as well as having solo shows in Paris, Casablanca and Algiers.

Group exhibitions 2011 ‘Contemporary works of Azerbaijan, the Land of Fire’, Hotel d’Evreux, Paris 2010 ‘Observer of the Fly’, Modern Art Museum, Baku

The artist in his studio

The work of Mammad Mustafayev reflects his architectural thinking,

example. The duality inherent in the material itself – its light weight

honed by his education. His designs leave one with an odd

and incredible strength – sets the tone for the works built out of it.

impression – while filled with esoteric meaning, at the same time

Mustafayev’s composition is an art object with two table lamps

they evoke a deep emotional response. They are light (in all senses

which is reminiscent at once of the fragile mass-produced

of the word) and at the same time grounded. This can partially

bookshelves of the 1950s and a bizarre model of a universe with

be explained by the materials chosen by Mustafayev – bamboo, for

two suns.

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Time of Change 1, 2011 Mixed media with bamboo; 247 × 190 × 65 cm

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MELIK AGHAMALOV Born Baku, 1962 Lives and works Baku

Melik Aghamalov graduated from the Azimzadeh State Art College in Baku in 1982 and from the Surikov State Academic Art Institute in Moscow in 1990. Since 1997, Aghamalov has been a member of the Union of Artists of Azerbaijan. Aghamalov uses symbols and signs to tell the story of the origination of the world and forms, their development and interaction, giving the viewer the possibility to enjoy the beauty of the material world while experiencing the spiritual one.

Solo exhibitions 2004 State Museum of Bergkamen, Städtische Galerie ‘Sohle 1’, Bergkamen, Germany Humay Gallery, London Baku Art Centre, Baku Le Bash Gallery, Paris 1991 Baku Art Centre, Baku

Group exhibitions 2010 2009 1999 1992 1990 1989 1988 1987

‘Spring Philosophy’, Museum Art Centre, Baku ‘Black and White’, Museum Art Centre, Baku Exhibition of Azerbaijan Artists, Humay Gallery, London Exhibition organised by Baku Art Centre, ‘Cultural Days of Azerbaijan’, Centre of Shaih Zahid, OPEG Headquarters, Abu Dhabi Exhibition organised by Baku Art Centre, ‘Cultural Days of Azerbaijan’, Carpentras, France ‘Exhibition of Young Artists’, Baku Art Centre, Baku ‘Exhibition of Young Artists’, The Manege Central Exhibition Hall, Moscow ‘Exhibition of Young Artists’, Central House of Artists, Moscow ‘Youth Exhibition’, Krimsky Val, Moscow

Works by the painter Melik Aghamalov, one of the most popular

The Still Life series most vividly characterizes the creative proclivity

makers of contemporary visual art in Azerbaijan, have been shown

of this artist. The characteristic effect of ‘ruined paintings’ – as if

and purchased by museums and collections in Azerbaijan, France,

their stains were a result of layers of time’s fingering – was borrowed

Germany, United Kingdom, Russia and the UAE. His work is marked

by the artist from his impression of Venice. The city floating on water

by a piercing, inimitable individuality.

impressed him so much that it added a new stroke to his artistic repertoire. His love of antiquities is also seen in the friezes that

Painting, aside from the ornamental, rarely exhibits a distinct rhythm,

frame his still life series. Because of this, these works evoke

yet it is present in Aghamalov’s canvases.The artist loves fragmentation,

an association with temple murals and with illustrated manuscripts.

but these fragments, like cells in an organism, are arranged in a strictly

Most of his works are replete with symbolism – for example,

regimented order. There is something of the comic book in this, if only

a triptych that brings together three meaningful and interrelated

one could fit philosophical ruminations and antique mini-remixes into

elements, such as a shell, a skull and a pomegranate. The skull

a comic strip. The recognition of the original painting fragments in the

symbolizes the impermanence of all things. The shell, on the

works of Aghamalov, allows the art critic to label this artist as post-

contrary, is a symbol of eternity. The pomegranate has for millennia

modernist. The recognition of texture also allows the viewer to affix

expressed man’s wish for fertility. Thus, in these three simple

a label of High Art to his work. The recognition of the author’s unique

symbols, the artist expresses the relationship between time and the

manner allows the gallery owner to utter the word “brand”.

continuity of existence.

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The Skull, 2011 Oil on canvas; 180 × 155 cm

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Pomegranate, 2011 Oil on canvas; 180 Ă— 155 cm

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The Seashell, 2011 Oil on canvas; 180 Ă— 155 cm

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MIRNADIR ZEYNALOV Born Baku, 1942 Lives and works Baku

Mirnadir Zeynalov graduated from the Azimzadeh State Art College in Baku in 1963 and ten years later he graduated from graphic art faculty of the Moscow State University of Printing Arts (formerly the Moscow Polygraphic Institute). In 1989 he received the bronze medal at the Biennale of the Caspian Republics for his work Spring Garden. In 1992 he was awarded the title of Honoured Artist of the Azerbaijan Republic. As well as a painter, Zeynalov is a poet and musician, a fact which greatly influences his art.

Solo exhibitions 2007 2002 1995 1990

Museum Centre, Baku S. Bahlulzade Art Gallery, Baku, in honour of the artist’s 60th birthday The R. Mustafayev Azerbaijan State Museum of Fine Arts, Baku The Central House of Artists, Moscow The N. Radishev Museum of Fine Arts, Saratov, Russia 1987 ‘Over India’, Friendship Society Exhibition Hall, Moscow 1986 ‘Over India’, Friendship Society Exhibition Hall, Baku 1981 The V. Samedova Exhibition Hall, Union of Artists of Azerbaijan, Baku

Selected group exhibitions 1993 ‘The Artists of Azerbaijan’, Union of Artists Hall, Berlin ‘The Artists of Azerbaijan’, Los Angeles, USA 1989 ‘The Artists of Azerbaijan’, Houston, USA 1988 ‘All-Union Exhibition of Painting’, The Central House of Artists, Moscow 1977 ‘Decade of Azerbaijan Literature and Art’, Union of Artists Hall, Kiev, Ukraine

People’s Artist of Azerbaijan Mirnadir Zeynalov is a recognized

sometimes screams, sometimes whispers, sometimes sings.

master of painting and drawing, as well as collage. Abstraction is his

(It is worth noting that this artist also writes poetry and music.) The

favourite artistic style. He always delights audiences with stunning

symbolism in the works of Zeynalov is multifaceted, and, to invent

combinations of colours and paints, that convey a sacred meaning,

a word, polyconfessional – with its lilies, fish, wheels, and much more.

because colour in his work is the form, the means, and the language. All these are traditional religious symbols interpreted in various Spirituality is the main theme of Zeynalov’s canvases. His great

manners by different faiths, as is the palm tree, an image

experience – he has travelled to such diverse corners of the planet

he particularly loves – a tree sacred to Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians

as Kamchatka, Sakhalin, India, Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Italy and

and Muslims. But he also utilizes very transparent, secular, mundane

Malta – enables him to express the entire globe in a single piece. For

symbols. Thus, in his Dedication to Karaev, among other objects one

the artist, whose works clearly reflect motifs of ancient Egypt, India

finds a guitar silhouette. Zeynalov actively utilizes elements

and the Far East, these journeys must have been necessary

of collage in his works – cardboard, cloth, and even fragments from

pilgrimages. It is very easy to meditate before his canvases. But from

his stencils. Among such works are Middle and Consent and Fishing

time to time one senses that the paintings themselves are meditating

Tackle, where inclusion of three-dimensional objects (pieces of stone,

before you. In any case, there is a sense of interaction. Their colour

bottles and rope) exaggerate and enrich his message.

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White Absheron, 2011

The Fisherman’s House, 2011

Mixed media on canvas; 190 × 150 cm

Mixed media on canvas; 196 × 150 cm

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Fishing Tackle, 2011 Mixed media on canvas; 196 × 150 cm

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Middle and Consent, 2011 Mixed media on canvas; 197 × 151 cm

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NIYAZ NAJAFOV Born Baku, 1968 Lives and works Baku and Paris

Niyaz Najafov is a professional sportsman. He graduated from Baku Technical School of Physical Culture in 1985 and has been involved in professional sports most of his life. Najafov started drawing in childhood, took up painting in 2003 and has had a successful career in art. His works are now exhibited in the leading galleries of Baku. In 2009, Najafov represented Azerbaijan at the Venice Biennale.

Solo exhibitions 2010 Vivienne Gallery, Paris 2009 French Embassy, Baku Kichik QalArt, Baku

Group exhibitions 2011 ‘On Soz’, Alternative Art Space, Baku Art London, London ‘Illusions Parallels’, I-Gallery, Paris Gazelli Art House at London Art Fair, London ‘Ter res de Pensée’, Brissot Gallery, Paris Gallerie DA-END, Paris ‘ArtLab’, Melun, France ‘Vision Solidaires’, Brissot Gallery, Paris ‘Avant Première’, IP Gallery, Paris 2010 ‘Year of Russia in France’, Brissot Gallery, Paris ‘Niyaz – Daria’, Vivienne Gallery, Paris Cairo International Biennale, Cairo Cité des Arts International, Moscow ‘Vision Solidaires’, Brissot Gallery, Paris 2009 Pavilion of Azerbaijan, 53rd Venice Biennale, Venice Basel Art Fair, Switzerland 2008 ‘Year of Azerbaijan in Germany’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Berlin Singverdson Bo Gallery, Rodby, Denmark 2007 5+, Museum Centre, Baku Kassel Art Fair, Germany 2006 U.N.O, Geneva 2005 ‘Man and Woman’, Museum Centre, Baku 2001 ‘FOREWORD’, opening of Yarat contemporary art space, Baku

Please note that the works by Niyaz Najafov illustrated here are not included in the exhibition which this catalogue accompanies; there are ten alternative works by this artist on display

Niyaz Najafov’s star rose in the firmament of Azerbaijani art in the

draw the eye, despite the fact that the images on them are far from

middle of the past decade. The works of this original artist have been

providential or even optimistic. A number of works by this artist

widely exhibited abroad (including Russia, the USA, Germany and

can be termed only as caricatures. This relationship between

Denmark), and have been acquired by museums and private

painting and drawing, a symbiotic combination of the eternal,

collections at home and abroad. In 2009, Najafov became one of the

‘monumental’ oil painting technique and the seemingly fleeting wit

artists representing Azerbaijan at the Venice Biennale. Two of his

of drawing is one of the recognizable features of Najafov’s artistic

works were purchased there by the renowned collector Alberto

style. Sometimes it is blatant satire, and sometimes it is merely

Sandretti.

a hidden smile. The people inhabiting his paintings are not so much actual characters, but archetypes, in which someone, perhaps,

All of Najafov’s canvases, regardless of the subject, magnetically

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might recognize themselves.

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Images courtesy of Mazen Saggar

[clockwise from left] Untitled, 2011 Oil on canvas; 100 × 70 cm Flowers 5, 2011 Oil on canvas; 100 × 81 cm Jumps, 2011 Oil on canvas; 100 × 90 cm

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ORKHAN HUSEYNOV Born Baku, 1978 Lives and works Baku

Orkhan Huseynov graduated from Faculty of Ceramic Design at the Azimzadeh State Art College in Baku in 1995, and from the Faculty of Ceramic Design at Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Art in 1999. He received his Master’s degree in 2000 from the Faculty of Art History and Theory at the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art in Baku. He works in the fields of installation, painting and video.

Solo exhibitions 2003 V. Samedova Exhibition Hall, Baku ‘Orkhan Huseynov: Old Baku’, Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam 2000 VakifBank Art Gallery, Ankara, Turkey ‘Orkhan Huseynov – Graphics’, Humay Azeri Cultural Centre, London 1999 V. Samedova Exhibition Hall, Baku

Group exhibitions 2011 ‘On Soz’, Alternative Art Space, Baku ‘Fabulous Four’, ArtExEast Foundation, Baku 2010 ‘Ground Floor America’, Den Frie Centre for Contemporary Art, Copenhagen ‘Contemporary Art of Azerbaijan’, Aidan Gallery, Moscow 2007 Azerbaijan Pavilion, 52nd Venice Biennale 2006 ‘Caucasus’ Exhibition of Azeri, Georgian and Armenian artists, Moscow State Centre for Contemporary Art, Moscow 2004 ‘Metro’, Space Gallery, Bratislava

Orkhan Huseynov is an artist who is equally prolific in painting,

Huseynov’s works reach much more widely in geographic and

drawing and many other media. From the outset, the focus of his work

temporal terms and his themes achieve a universality.

became his love of his country’s folk tradition and history. Culture, art, everyday life, monuments, traditional games – all found reflection

His conceptual work is similarly ambitious. For example, Sabir and

in his works. For example, he devoted an entire series to pre-

Splash are planar objects made of Plexiglas in which monochromatic

Revolutionary Baku: the Governor’s Garden, oil fields, night-time

colour emphasizes the graphic qualities, while the clearly delineated

Torgovaya street, restaurants, law firms, markets, the private lives

lines accentuate their poster-like presence. Splash invites the viewer

of the city’s inhabitants. All this was wrought with elegance, taste and

to meditate and to reach his own conclusion. Sabir on the other hand

humour, as well as, importantly, with great historical accuracy.

is a tribute to the memory of the genius Azeri poet-satirist Sabir. The drop of blood on the poet’s lips could be explained by his words

Civil themes of a more serious nature also find expression in his work

spoken on this deathbed: “I laid my flesh down for my people. But if

– the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan and its history. However,

God would give me more time, I would lay my bones down too”.

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Splash, 2011 Plexiglas; 200 × 240 cm This work is from an edition of 3 plus 1 artist’s proof

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Sabir, 2011 Plexiglas; 280 × 200 cm This work is from an edition of 3 plus 1 artist’s proof

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Stills from Oil Drinking, 2011 DVD This work is from an edition of 2

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Stills from Dancing with No Sound, 2011 DVD; duration 3 min 30 sec This work is from an edition of 2

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RASHAD ALAKBAROV Born Baku, 1979 Lives and works Baku

Rashad Alakbarov graduated from the Faculty of Decorative Arts at Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art in Baku in 2001. He works with different media, including painting, sculpture, theatre decorations, video art and architectural design. The use of shadows in his installation became the main direction in the artist’s conceptual work. The first public showing of this type of work was at the ‘Wings of Time’ exhibition in Baku in 2000. Alakbarov’s work is held in private collections in Azerbaijan, Italy, Turkey and Russia.

Selected group exhibitions 2011 ‘On Soz’, Alternative Art Place, Baku ‘The Journey to the East’, Contemporary Art Museum, Bialystok, Poland ‘Fabulous Four’, Kichik QalArt, Baku ‘City’, Central House of the Artist, Moscow ‘Big Caucasus’, PERMM Gallery, Perm, Russia 2010 ‘Azerbaijan Contemporary Art’, Aidan Gallery, Moscow 2009 ‘BakUnlimited’, ‘Cultural Days of Azerbaijan’, Voltahalle, Basel, Switzerland 2008 ‘Art is not only ugly’, Atrium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin ‘Steps of Time: Contemporary Art from Azerbaijan’, Residenzschloss, Dresden, Germany ‘Wage Floor’, Contemporary Art Centre, Baku 2007 ‘Aluminium 3’, International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Baku ‘East & West’, Museum of Art, Die, France ‘OMNIA MEA’, 52nd Venice Biennale, Venice 2006 ‘Caucasus’, NCAC, Moscow ‘TRANSFUSION’, Contemporary Art Centre, Liestal, Switzerland 2005 ‘Aluminium 2’, International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Baku 2003 ‘Aluminium: Art + New Technologies’, Shirvanshah’s Palace, Baku ‘7+7. More Transparent’, The Museum Centre, Baku 2000 ‘Wings of Time’, Khagani Trading Centre, Baku

Sometimes it is useful to look at things and people with fresh eyes.

associated with the world of anime serials, filled with ideas

The art of Rashad Alakbarov, who could be called ‘the master

of looming world catastrophes after man has unleashed the

of shadows’, gives the viewer just such an opportunity. A graduate

genie of high technology.

of the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art in Baku, he has participated in contemporary art exhibitions in Baku as well

Another thematic line of Alakbarov’s work is the art and culture

as abroad, and represented Azerbaijan at the 52nd Venice Biennale.

of Azerbaijan. Ornament explores this theme – a relatively simple structure of wooden slats is reflected upon the wall

Alakbarov’s works comprise massive installations, but not the typical

forming a wonderfully whimsical depiction of an ornament of the

kind which are geared for direct sensory perception – they contain

traditional sash. In his work Fly to Baku, colourful model

a secret. Objects, either diverse or homogenous, are arranged in such

aeroplanes are yearning, tensing toward the projected image

a manner that shadows cast on the wall under proper lighting have

of Baku bay on the wall. They can also be interpreted as an

little to do with the image of the initial installation. In this duality lies

allegory of the heartfelt impulses of his compatriots who

the magic of Alakbarov’s works. Thematically many of his works are

live abroad.

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Fly to Baku, 2011 90 Plexiglas model aeroplanes and light projector; dimensions variable This work is unique (Image shows 3-D rendering)

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Ornament, 2011 Wood, nails, screws, light projector; 150 × 300 × 300 cm This work is from an edition of 3 Installation view at the ‘City’ exhibition, Central House of the Artist, Moscow, 2011

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RASHAD BABAYEV Born Baku, 1979 Lives and works Baku

In 2001 Rashad Babayev graduated from the Faculty of Law at Azerbaijan State University. He has been painting since 2000 and has been the member of Union of Artists of Azerbaijan since 2005. Babayev’s work is held in the collection of Museum of Modern Art in Baku and private collections in Azerbaijan, UK and Turkey.

Solo exhibitions 2004 Q Gallery, Baku

Group exhibitions 2011 ‘Harmony’, exhibition of Azeri artists, YEOSAMI Cultural Centre, Seoul ‘Contemporary works of Azerbaijan, the Land of Fire’, Hotel d’Evreux, Paris 2009 ‘Aluminium 4’, International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Baku ‘XII’, Contemporary Art Centre, Baku 2008 International Art Exhibition, The Central House of Artists, Moscow 2007 4th International Biennial, Tehran International Art Exhibition, Union of Artists, Astana, Kazakhstan 2006 ‘Art and New Technologies’, International Festival of Contemporary Art, Museum Centre, Baku ‘Transformation of the Oil in Art Works’, Q Gallery, Baku 2005 ‘Labyrinth Group Exhibition’, Q Gallery, Baku ‘Man and Woman’, S. Bahlulzade Exhibition Hall, Baku 2004 ‘Exhibition of Young Artists’, V. Samedova Art Salon, Baku ‘Art Caucasus 2004’, International Fair of Contemporary Visual Art, Tbilisi ‘Art Istanbul’, Lutfu Kirdar Exhibition Hall, Istanbul

Rashad Babayev’s work is permeated with the spirit of high

impression of boundless worlds, examined through a powerful

philosophy, primarily conveyed by colour and line which dominate his

telescope. Here, the minutiae loom large. This could be seen in St.

work. His works have already been given their due by collectors of his

Sebastian and Room with Plants and Two Persons. The variation

native country, as well as those in Russia, France, Turkey and Iran.

on a religious theme portrayed in St. Sebastian diverges far from its

Babayev’s works are primarily infused with an exotic harmony

source. In Babayev’s version, the saint is presented as an inanimate

of bright tones. His Titian-like golden nudes recline on flame-coloured

target for shooting practice. Sacrificed beliefs are the allegory in this

brocade. His landscapes are ignited with colours of endless sunsets.

case. The sombre, even grim monochromatic palette of the canvas

His multifaceted, many-levelled still lifes are akin to Babylonian

gives it a similarity to graphic art, evoking an association with

ziggurats. Special note should be made of his series titled Smokers,

a political satire.

which varies the theme of escaping reality, expressed in diverse colour schemes – from an optimistic warmth of gold to a deep,

The piece Room with Plants and Two Persons is altogether different.

desperate colour of coffee.

It is awash with a booming symphony of pinkish lilac shades and complementary green tones that range from light, almost yellow

Some of Babayev’s work is densely saturated with symbolism; others,

shades to the deep colour of malachite. The polychromatic melody

on the contrary, are brimming with austerity in all aspects – from the

detracts attention from the human figures. Here the non-material

filling of the background to the density of tones. And because the

world has its own life, one that is no less important than that of the

artist prefers, as a rule, large-format canvases, his paintings give the

human one.

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St. Sebastian, 2009 Oil on canvas; 140 × 100 cm Room with Plants and Two Persons, 2004 Oil on canvas; 180 × 215 cm

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Composition, 2010 Diptych: oil on canvas; overall 300 × 400 cm

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SANAN ALESKEROV Born Baku, 1956 Lives and works Baku

Sanan Aleskerov graduated with a degree in journalism from Azerbaijan State University in 1982. He worked with scientific, applied, press and other photography. Between 1999 and 2009, Aleskerov served as a chairman of the artistic council of the Union of Photographers of Azerbaijan. Since 1996 he has been teaching and is now working with documentary photography. His characteristic work includes projects that observe urban, social and visual changes of cities and landscapes. Aleskerov’s work is held in the collection of Museum of El Salvador Velasek, Reus, Spain; Library of the Photo, Surrey, UK; The Baku Centre of Arts, Baku, Azerbaijan; and the Museum of Istiglal, Baku, Azerbaijan. It is also held in private collections in USA, Turkey, Austria, Germany, UK, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, Norway, and France.

Solo exhibitions 2008 ‘Images’, Contemporary Art Centre, Baku 2003 ‘Avenue Shehidov – 1990’, Istiglal Museum, Baku ‘Sanan Aleskerov: Selected Works’, Université Marc Bloch, Strasbourg, France 1998 ‘Elements of my life’, Gallery TMS, Tbilisi 1988 ‘Sanan Aleskerov: Selected Works’, Baku Centre of Arts, Baku 1987 ‘Sanan Aleskerov: Selected Works’, Ust Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan

Group exhibitions and projects 2010 Curator, ‘THE SEVEN: Modern Azerbaijan Photography’, Modern Art Museum, Baku 2009 ‘Culture Scapes Aserbaidschan’, Culturescapes Festival, Basel, Switzerland ‘Photoquai’, Musée du quai Branly, Paris 2008 ‘Steps of Time’, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Germany 2007 ‘Dialog with Neighbour’, Efeshane Gallery, Istanbul ‘Modern Photography in Azerbaijan’, Contemporary Art Centre, MOMA, Moscow ‘Fire’, Labyrinth Group project, 52nd Venice Biennale ‘International Project Recognize Neighbour’, Tophane Gallery, Istanbul ‘Modern Photography in Azerbaijan’, CSI Gallery, Moscow 2006 ‘KARAVANSERAI Azerbaijan – idens rike’, Archaeologist Museum, Stavanger, Norway 2005 ‘Landart-Oil’, Labyrinth Group project, Contemporary Art Festival, Q Gallery, Baku 2002 Photos of ‘Ajna – 2002’, First International Festival, Association of Photographers of Azerbaijan, Baku

2001 ‘Days of Caucasian Culture in Mongolia. A collection of works’, Museum of Modern Art, Ulan Bator ‘Appendix’, exhibition of a conceptual photo, Karavasla, Tbilisi 2000 ‘Fire’, Labyrinth Group projects, Vadji Samedove Gallery, Baku Labyrinth Group exhibition, CDH Gallery, Moscow 1989–91, 1995–97, 1999 London Salons of the Photo, London

Awards 2006 Special Prize, ‘Tradition and Modernity’ Competition, Baku Art Centre, Baku 2001 Grand Prize, ‘Image of PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ Competition, Baku First Place, ‘Tradition and Modernity’ Competition, Baku Art Centre, Baku 2000 Humay Award for Labyrinth ‘Landart I’ project, Baku 1996 Bronze Medal, Federation of International Art Photography, Istanbul 1995–96 London Salon of Photography Honorary Medal, London 1994 Honorary Ribbon, Federation of International Art Photography, Edinburgh, UK 1993 Silver Medal, Honorary Ribbon, Federation of International Art Photography, Surrey, UK Silver Medal, Salon of Art Photography, Chollez, France 1991 Honorary Ribbon, American Association of Photographers, Jackson, Mississippi, USA Bronze Medal, Salon of Art Photography, Chollez, France 1990 Gold Medal, Salon of Art Photography, Chollez, France 1987 Laureate of II Festival of Folk Art, VDNH, Moscow

Sanan Aleskerov is one of the great masters of Azerbaijani

of this definition includes relationships among people, their need for

photography. For ten years he headed the Artistic Council of the

spiritual purity, man’s relationship to the environment, and the life

Azerbaijan Association of Photographers and gained many disciples

of this environment independent of human intervention – the inner

and followers. Over the past quarter of a century, he has been

world of objects, architectural structures and wildlife.

awarded many prestigious prizes in national and international photographic competitions and festivals. This artist was among the

Aleskerov has said that there are photographic compositions which

first contemporary Azerbaijani photographers whose works became

must be examined like an intricately woven rug: by doing so, every

known abroad after Azerbaijan gained its independence.

square inch of their surface will yield surprises, new and unexpected patterns. Such is his series of works dedicated to the city of Baku.

A journalism graduate from the Azerbaijan State University,

These are photographs of various nooks of our capital city, taken

Aleskerov works in the genre of documentary photography. Indicative

throughout several decades. Their chronology shows the changes

of his work are his observational projects where he monitors the

in the appearance of the city. Changes that evoke in some a feeling

urban, social and visual changes in cities and landscapes. According

of nostalgia for times long gone, and in others ignite an inspiration

to Aleskerov, what interests him is “spiritual ecology”. The ambiguity

with a view to the future.

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Stills from Yesterday, 1982 – 2003 DVD; duration 8 min 10 sec This work is unique

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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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Caspian Vacation, 2011 Oil on canvas; 180 × 140 cm

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Caspian 1, 2011 Oil on canvas; 140 × 180 cm

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Vacation, 2011 Oil on canvas; 120 × 200 cm

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS For their help and collaboration in the organisation of this exhibition:

Additionally, Hervé Mikaeloff would like to thank the following: Simon and Michaela de Pury Leyla Aliyeva Emin Mammadov Arianna Jacobs Tamila Kerimova Shirin Melikova Pierre Lefort Marion Bonraisin Hannah Pawlby

This catalogue is published to coincide with the exhibition: ‘Fly to Baku: Contemporary Art from Azerbaijan’ 17 – 29 January 2012 Phillips de Pury & Company Howick Place, London SW1P 1BB Sales enquiries: Arianna Jacobs ajacobs@phillipsdepury.com +44 20 7318 4054 Please note that not all works in the exhibition are illustrated in this catalogue Front cover: Orkhan Huseynov, Splash, 2011 All text © the authors 2011 All works © the artists 2011 Unless noted, all images of works are courtesy of Mirnaib Hasanoglu Printed in the United Kingdom Phillips de Pury & Company

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Fly to Baku - Contemporary Art from Azerbaijan