YARAT to host solo exhibitions of Aida Mahmudova and Michelangelo Pistoletto

19 March 2018 18:17 (UTC+04:00)

By Laman Ismayilova

YARAT Contemporary Art Space will present solo exhibitions of Aida Mahmudova “Non-imagined perspectives” and Michelangelo Pistoletto “Do it” on April 1 – June 10. 

The Space of Contemporary Art YARAT presents a personal exhibition of new works by its founder, Azerbaijani artist Aida Makhmudova “Non-imagined perspectives”

Across the top floor of the exhibition space, the artist has produced an entirely new body of work that builds on her exploration of material as a tool for experimentation. For the artist the process of destruction and re-creation, of building layers and tearing them apart, of mixing various materials, such as paper, clay, cement, stone and, for the first time in this show marble, becomes an exercise for material growth and emotional healing. The total installation of sculptures, resembling crumbling pillars, and monumental wall works create a feeling of a transient place, half ruined and half built, and one is reminded that entropy is an essential step of creation.

For Mahmudova the process is everything and her textured works act as tokens of memory, each layer exposing a particular moment on the artist’s personal time-space continuum.

Early on in her work, Mahmudova developed a curiosity towards material, which manifested itself through experimentation with light, color and matter in her landscapes and semi-abstract canvases. As her paintings became increasingly more layered the artist expanded her practice into the three dimensional, applying the same approach to sculpture and creating environments both emotive and intense. Harmonious with the physical nature of her chosen materials and her preferred earthly palette, her deeply intuitive explorations continue to evolve across the spectrum of universal human sentiments of love, loss, memory and desire. In the artist’s own words, “this artistic process is in a way an act of tearing away at our fundamental principles, which are manmade and therefore ultimately fragile.”

Aida Mahmudova (b. 1982, Baku, Azerbaijan) lives and works in Baku. She graduated from Central Saint Martins, London with a degree in Fine Art in 2006. She has widely exhibited internationally, including group and solo exhibitions in Belgium, London, Rome, New York, Moscow and Baku. Selected solo exhibitions include: Can't Capture The Light, Deweer Gallery, Otegem (2017); Passing By..., Leila Heller Gallery, New York (2015); and Internal Peace, Barbarian Art Gallery, Zurich (2013). Mahmudova exhibited at the 55th Venice Biennale in the group show Love Me, Love Me Not (2013) and in the 56th Venice Biennale as part of VITA VITALE curated by Artwise (2015).

This exhibition is curated by Suad Garayeva-Maleki.

A solo exhibition of new and seminal archive works by Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto “Do it” will also take place in YARAT Contemporary Art Space.

Central to the exhibition is Pistoletto’s 2003 text ‘Terzo Paradiso’ (‘Third Paradise’), a manifesto for a harmonious future where nature and society coexist. ‘Third Paradise’ states the social responsibility to seek a more sustainable world, ‘leading everything that is artificial; that is science and technology together with art; to give back life to Earth’.

For his solo exhibition at YARAT, Pistoletto continues to use this ideology as the catalyst for new installations, which are presented in conversation with a selection of the artist’s early works. The notion of sustainability is further manifested through a series of educational programs focused on the methodology Pistoletto and his Foundation (Cittadellarte) developed for schoolchildren, including workshops for schoolchildren, young artists and a lecture series for university students. Taking place over the course of one year, this educational component will train local Azerbaijani educators in schools across Azerbaijan to develop and expand upon the way children approach sustainability and creative processes.

The symbol of the ‘Third Paradise’ can be seen throughout Pistoletto’s oeuvre – a reconfiguration of the mathematical infinity sign where three connecting circle are drawn. The outer circles represent nature and artifice, joined together by a larger circle representing a new humanity. Celebrated as a pioneer of Arte Povera, Pistoletto’s practice spans across painting, sculpture and performance. Since the 1960s the mirrored surface has been a recurring theme in the artist’s practice, exemplifying his interest in the performative whilst creating a space for self-reflection.

Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933, Biella, Italy) lives and works in Biella, Italy. Since his first solo show in 1960, Pistoletto has gone onto exhibit globally, with his work held in the public collections of institutions such as Tate Britain, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Art Gallery of Ontario. A leading proponent in the Arte Povera movement, major retrospectives of the artist’s work have been held in Venice, Madrid, Florence, Rome, Barcelona and Philadelphia. At the 2003 Venice Biennale, he was awarded the Leone d’Oro for lifetime achievement, and in 2007 he was awarded the Wolf Foundation Prize in Jerusalem. In 2013, Pistoletto was given the Praemium Imperiale Award from the Japan Arts Association in Tokyo.

In 1994, Michelangelo Pistoletto created the Progetto Arte Manifesto in which he proposed a new role for the artist: placing art in direct interaction with all areas of human activities surrounding the formation of society. Subsequently, in 1998, he founded Cittadellarte in his hometown of Biella, Northern Italy - a vibrant cultural and entrepreneurial community of hundreds of individuals actively engaged with their society, whilst connected to an international network. Cittadellarte's aim is to inspire and produce responsible community change. It is a laboratory-school dedicated to the study, experimentation and development of practices translating the symbol of the Third Paradise into reality, incorporating it into every sector of society and every type of organization, from the single individual to global governmental agencies like the United Nations. Cittadellarte operates in collaboration and in network with thousands of public and private subjects sharing its vision, among which the Embassies of the Third Paradise, currently 125 in 47 countries.

This exhibition is curated by Björn Geldhof in collaboration with GALLERIA CONTINUA, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins / Habana

Exhibitions are open from Tuesday through Sunday, from 12:00 – 20:00.

Admission is free.

Location: YARAT Contemporary Art Centre, National Flag Square, Bayil, AZ1003

YARAT comprises YARAT Art Centre, ARTIM Project Space, YARAT Studios, YAY Gallery and an extended educational and public programme. YARAT Art Centre, a 2000m² converted Soviet-era naval building, opened in March 2015 and is the organisation's main exhibition space. The exhibition programme features new commissions by artists responding to the region.  It supports and provides access to artists from the region, while engaging and introducing established, international artists.

In October 2015, YARAT opened ARTIM, a central, accessible and dynamic space in Baku's Old City. ARTIM (meaning 'progress' in Azerbaijani) shows experimental practices and new work by emerging Azeri art professionals (selected through open call) and the international artists from the residency programme. It features multiple small-scale projects each year and hosts ARTIM LAB, a programme enabling young artists to engage in workshops and daily studio practice to generate new ideas and works.

In 2016 YARAT launched a renewed residency programme. Aimed at developing young Azerbaijani voices and emerging international artists, the focus is on new, innovative practices and artists with an interest in the region. The residency programme hosts 6 international and 4 local artists a year at YARAT Studios’ spaces.

Education has been at the heart of YARAT's activities since its creation. With a dedicated public programme that includes courses, workshops, lectures, screenings, festivals, literature and theatre clubs and family weekends, YARAT aims to give access to broad audiences of all ages. The public programme invests proactively in building communities and nurturing a wider understanding of, and participation in, contemporary art.

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Laman Ismayilova  is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova

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