By Laman Ismayilova
YARAT Contemporary Art Space invites you to enjoy the first ever major museum exhibition of Azerbaijani nonconformist artist Ashraf Murad.
Composed of both private and public collections from Azerbaijan and abroad, the exhibition will open at the Azerbaijan Painting Museum of the 20th and 21th Centuries on February 8.
Many exhibits are being presented to the general public for the first time.
The exhibition features over 100 works, including paintings, drawings, sketches and album drawings, as well as photographs and contextual materials.
Beginning from the mid – 1960s and concluding with Ashraf Murad’s death in 1979, the exhibition reveals him as a beautiful realist painter and sensitive interpreter of the evolving political climate. After its establishment in 1934, Socialist Realism became a stifling paradigm in which all-political critique and obvious formal experiments were snuffed out. All institutions were consumed by it, revealing a new ideology and forcibly creating a huge audience.
The light wind of political change blew after Stalin’s death and brought to the Soviet Republics a greater acquaintance with the developing avant-garde and modernist practices of the West, which played an influential role in coming events...
After a tragic life event which happened to Ashraf Murad in the early 1960s, he fundamentally changed his painting style, building compositions, focus and subject matter. Narrative paintings, relevant to the regime and littered with light became melancholic and dramatic. His bright pallet transformed into dark, compositions became laconic, monumental, generalised and hyperbolised, according to the canvas dimensions. Murad reflected the dark side of Soviet life, highlighting his defiance against the repressive dogma of Socialist Realism that was imposed on him. His sporting figures, still-lifes and portraits of regime leaders belonged to Soviet topics, but were not at all Soviet. Ashraf’s subjects with hidden meanings were protests of ideology, the regime and its foundations.
His contribution to art development established him as one of Azerbaijan’s most significant artists of the twentieth century and turned him into an inspiration for the next generations of artists. He was never officially recognised during his lifetime, his first posthumous exhibition were not held until 1984.
Ashraf Murad (b. 1925, Baku, Azerbaijan) graduated from A.Azimzadeh Art College in Baku (1946) and I. E. Repin Leningrad Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1954). He came back to Baku where he lived and worked. His works are kept in the Azerbaijan State Museum of Art, the National Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art and Nar Gallery, as well as in the private collections of Farhad Akhmedov, Farhad Khalilov, Rashad Babayev and Khayyam Mirzazade.
The exhibition is curated by Farah Alakbarli.
Admission is free. The exhibition will last until August 2019.
Exhibition open: Tuesday through Sunday, from 11:00 until 20:00.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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