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IN ARTE LIBERTAS

Works by Javad Mirjavadov at Sotheby's

Feb 2015
“His time has not arrived yet” was continuously repeated by those few who supported and admired Javad MirJavadov’s body of work. They believed that his way of thinking was very different from that of his contemporaries and that he belonged to the future. Indeed, MirJavadov was too big for the world he lived in, too massive in the scale of his thought, the brightness of his vision and the boldness of his brushstrokes.

Works by Javad Mirjavadov at Sotheby's

Feb 2015
“His time has not arrived yet” was continuously repeated by those few who supported and admired Javad MirJavadov’s body of work. They believed that his way of thinking was very different from that of his contemporaries and that he belonged to the future. Indeed, MirJavadov was too big for the world he lived in, too massive in the scale of his thought, the brightness of his vision and the boldness of his brushstrokes.

Exploring Inward

Aida Mahmudova and Faig Ahmed
at Louise Blouin Foundation
Jan-Feb 2015

Aida Mahmudova and Faig Ahmed have been brought together for this show to explore the intersecting territory on which their body of art is built. When viewing their works independently, there don't appear to be commonalities in their concepts, either visual or theoretical. However, if you place their artworks side by side, an unframed seascape by Mahmudova and the gravitational carpet by Ahmed can radiate the same spirit, the same mood.

That mood is of an explorer. Their work possesses the robust power inherent in any explorer, whether of distant lands, an astronomer investigating the universe, or a scientist searching for what lies within. There have always been those who explore inwards – for instance, miners in the earth's core, or the early twentieth-century psychologists who claimed that the deeper you investigate the unconscious, the closer you get to the truth. Looking inward will lead you to discover what lies beyond the surface.

Aida Mahmudova and Faig Ahmed both explore inwards. This is what unites their work: the phenomenon of the explorer's curiosity, of one who travels in search of knowledge, who digs into the past to find a future. This constant journey present in their work brings them together, joined by the eternal question: 'What lies within?'

Exploring Inward

Aida Mahmudova and Faig Ahmed
at Louise Blouin Foundation
Jan-Feb 2015

Aida Mahmudova and Faig Ahmed have been brought together for this show to explore the intersecting territory on which their body of art is built. When viewing their works independently, there don't appear to be commonalities in their concepts, either visual or theoretical. However, if you place their artworks side by side, an unframed seascape by Mahmudova and the gravitational carpet by Ahmed can radiate the same spirit, the same mood.

That mood is of an explorer. Their work possesses the robust power inherent in any explorer, whether of distant lands, an astronomer investigating the universe, or a scientist searching for what lies within. There have always been those who explore inwards – for instance, miners in the earth's core, or the early twentieth-century psychologists who claimed that the deeper you investigate the unconscious, the closer you get to the truth. Looking inward will lead you to discover what lies beyond the surface.

Aida Mahmudova and Faig Ahmed both explore inwards. This is what unites their work: the phenomenon of the explorer's curiosity, of one who travels in search of knowledge, who digs into the past to find a future. This constant journey present in their work brings them together, joined by the eternal question: 'What lies within?'

Faces of Freedom

by Alexandra Kremer-Khomassouridze
at Asia House
Feb 2015

Faces of Freedom

by Alexandra Kremer-Khomassouridze
at Asia House
Feb 2015

When I saw my face in a hijab something completely unexpected happened...

Being myself a Western oriented person , having Azerbaijani and Georgian background, a Russian grand-mother, a residence and two daughters in Paris I suddenly started crying awkwardly and couldn’t stop it anymore.

It was a complete shock. My soul all of a sudden felt ... protected! The hijab to my bewilderment made me unexpectedly feel sure of myself. Being still spellbound, I realized, that I found in wearing a hijab a certain kind of protection I had always been looking for.

Something that didn’t allow others to judge me by my look anymore. All at once, I felt like a strong self-assured woman, ready for heroic acts. And what was the biggest surprise–I didn’t feel like taking the hijab off. Questions started to appear and they didn’t stop: “ What the hell is going on? How come I feel so amazingly free?”

Where is Freedom? “How does it relate to the freedom I always was striving for?”

Being thunderstruck, I had to ask myself again and again: what in fact is the real freedom– to wear it or not to?

Farhad Khalilov

at Saatchi Gallery
March 2015

At first glance his work seems abstract, a continuation of the experiments in shape and colour that began with Malevich’s ‘Black Square’, but closer inspection reveals that these often huge canvases are in fact taken from nature – specifically the vast skies and seascapes of Khalilov’s native Baku and its surroundings. “It’s funny for me that people perceive my work as abstract,” the artist said. “For me this is what I saw or felt. I sit and look and draw.”

He likes to talk of an early encounter with Chinese poetry – the first verse he read was ‘In fish’s eyes, only tears’. The art of saying much with few words became a principle that has informed his creative career.

It’s a career that has often seen him at loggerheads with the artistic establishment: insufficiently realistic for the Soviet commissars of old, he now finds himself similar out of step with contemporary conceptualism. This amounts a paradoxical swing of fashion from being judged too abstract to being judged too literal by the prevailing tastes of the age. However, in recent years his work has received more attention beyond his native country. In 2008 he had a large-scale solo show at the prestigious Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, and in 2011 the Great Room 1508 hosted his first ever London exhibition, ‘Acquaintance’, presenting 15 new canvases.

Buta’s exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery builds on the relationship that began when Saatchi visited Baku’s Museum of Modern Art and saw at first hand the range and talent of Azerbaijani artists.

Unseen Salakhov

at Sotheby’s
Feb 2010

Off the coast of Azerbaijan’s Absheron peninsular, not far from Baku, the weird city-on-stilts, Oily Rocks, became a symbol for the oil industry and the birthplace of off-shore drilling. And it was here, when man and nature meet head on, that a young Tair Salakhov found inspiration for his art – and threw down a personal challenge to the Soviet system.

Yet between the power of the sea and the rugged laborers working on the oil wells, the young artist found a voice not only for himself, but for a creative generation eager to push beyond the boundaries of state-approved ‘socialist-realism’ commissioned by Stalin to paint a gleaming portrait of people’s utopia, where no questions could be asked.

This is how Tair Salakhov became one of the founders of the subsequent “severe style”, which peeled away the gloss of earlier Soviet art. His breakthrough work, 1957’s “The Shift is Over”, was no abstract crowd of happy masses leaving the factory, but showed real people, friends and colleagues, reflecting their exhaustion and relief at the end of another grueling working day.

It was a stylistic shift which introduced elements of modernism to the stifling, state-led artistic world of the USSR. Salakhov’s influence grew as he moved from a precarious place on the margins of official tolerance to becoming the First Secretary of the Union of Artists. He organised exhibitions of leading modern artists including Francis Bacon and Robert Rauschenberg, the American pop-artist who became a friend and whose portrait Salakhov painted.

Rena Effendi

at the Mosaic Rooms
Dec 2014

One of the most important roles of art is to tell the story of people who would otherwise be left without a voice. Conflict and disaster bring the camera crews, but the people they film have to continue their lives, picking up the pieces of their shattered communities, long after the media focus shifts to fresh stories and the latest novelty.

That’s where Baku-born photographer Rena Effendi steps in. Much of her work has followed the fate of people on the margins, in her own country and all over the world. And that fascination underpins her latest collection, ‘Zones of Silence’. The name is taken from a semi-fictional tract of the Mexican desert where radio signals don’t penetrate, and becomes a metaphor for people living in areas cut off from the oxygen of global, or even local publicity.

The project includes images from all over the world. In Azerbaijan she trains her lens on the thousands of people displaced by the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict, still living in ramshackle temporary accommodation in a country where an ostentatious construction boom can’t seem to build a permanent home for them. From communities shattered by the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Congo to Native Americans in North Dakota, from the eerily deserted exclusion zone of Chernobyl to the shattered aftermath of the 2008 conflict on the Russia-Georgia border, these images record the lives of people whose daily struggles are all too easily overlooked.

Effendi’s photographs also featured in the first Buta Festival in London, where she showed work from her ‘Pipe Dreams’ collection shot along the oil pipeline that links Baku with the Turkish port of Ceyhan. It also touched on the themes that she revisits here – the lives of those left behind by changes brought from afar and established her reputation as one of the most unflinchingly talented recorders of human experience on the margins of the ‘official’ world.

Rena Effendi has won many awards for her work, including a Prince Claus award in 2011 and prizes from National Geographic and Getty Images.

Scent Sculpture
“Lankaran Forest”

at Royal Academy of Arts
March 2015

The closing celebration of the Buta Festival and launch of the brand new perfume takes place at The Royal Academy of Arts, where guests will be transported to the mythical world of the Lankaran Forest.

Maria Candida Gentile, the acclaimed Italian perfumer, presents a tailor-made fragrance inspired by Azerbaijan.

Bottled in a beautiful design by Lalique, the fragrance invokes the smells of the forest in autumn – with hues of orange and mandarin.