YARAT displays art works of national artist [PHOTO]

11 June 2021 15:45 (UTC+04:00)

By Laman Ismayilova

Azerbaijani artist Rashad Alakbarov has pleased art lovers with unique art works. His exhibition opened at YARAT Contemporary Art Space on June 10. 

"Look At You!" is the experimental multidisciplinary solo exhibition by Rashad Alakbarov. As artist says, while the exhibition is a new experiment with various materials in his creative work, it also presents his practice in a new and unpredictable way. This immersive project commissioned by YARAT features the artist's new sculptures and installations.

The art project is a silent dialogue with spectators, provoking them to think. The labyrinth is the main key to make this dialogue happen. It embodies ideas of action, renewal, and rebirth corresponding to symbols that lead the person to reality/self-understanding.

Considering the "MacGuffin effect", the artist explores the context of a labyrinth and emphasizes the importance of process/way, rather than object/event. Installations embedded with allegory and metaphors lead to the deepest layers of a human being and reveal ambiguous thoughts. Originating from this concept, Alakbarov’s references, based on mankind/society, creation and being, memory and remembrance, faith, political structures, and kitsch culture, appeal to the person himself/herself.

More than an adaptation of the labyrinth concept, the exhibition reflects its transformation and the expansion of this idea. In this "journey” using distinct "tools", the artist talks about past and current processes. Referring to the red thread of the Ariadna, who is one of the main characters of the labyrinth myth and the daughter of Minos, the King of Crete, the artist has placed directional messages throughout the labyrinth.

These messages act as an auxiliary tool to understand the art pieces in the exhibition and follow the ideas of the project concept. Explaining European values through a cultural and moral prism, the artist creates parallels that intersect with Eastern philosophical thought and mythology. In the artworks where autobiographical elements exist, the artist touches upon the topics of remembrance and memory.

The components containing this leitmotif include fragments from childhood games to the post-Soviet household. They are spread all over the labyrinth like the pieces of an uncompleted puzzle. Reminiscent of Alakbarov's project at Venice Biennale, “I was here” is also a reference to local subcultures.

The exhibition is curated by Farah Alakbarli.

Born in 1979 in Baku, Rashad Alakbarov graduated from the Faculty of Decorative Arts at Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art in Baku (2001). He has worked with different media, including painting, sculpture, theatrical decoration, video art and architectural design, but the use of shadows in his installations has become the main direction in the artist’s conceptual work. The first public display of this type of work was at the “Wings of Time” exhibition in Baku in 2000.

His solo exhibitions have been shown at various art spaces, including "The Magic of the Light" (Dalian Times Square, Dalian, PRC, 2018), "Words" (Baku MoMA, 2014), "The Other City" (YAY Gallery, Baku, 2013).

Rashad Alakbarov is the participant of the international events such as "Beyond the Shadows" (Tainan, Taiwan, 2019) MiSK Art Festival (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2019, 2017); Islamic Art Festival (Sharjah, UAE, 2018, 2016, 2012); Cosmoscow Art Fair (Moscow, Russia, 2014); Artbat Fest (Almaty, Kazakhstan, 2014); 12th Avesta Art Festival (Stockholm, Sweden, 2014); East Wing Biennial (London, UK, 2014) .

Moreover, the artist also represented Azerbaijan at the 52nd, 55th and 56th Venice Biennials. His works are kept in private collections in Azerbaijan, Turkey, Italy and Russia.

Exhibition opens: Tuesday through Sunday, from 12 am – 20 pm. Admission is free. The exhibition will last until December 30.

Address: YARAT Contemporary Art Centre (National Flag Square)

YARAT is an artist-founded, not-for-profit art organisation based in Baku, Azerbaijan, established by Aida Mahmudova in 2011. YARAT (which means 'create' in Azerbaijani) is dedicated to contemporary art with a long-term commitment to creating a hub for artistic practice, research, thinking and education in the Caucasus, Central Asia and surrounding region.

YARAT is an artist-founded, not-for-profit art organisation based in Baku, Azerbaijan, established by Aida Mahmudova in 2011. YARAT (which means 'create' in Azerbaijani) is dedicated to contemporary art with a long-term commitment to creating a hub for artistic practice, research, thinking and education in the Caucasus, Central Asia and surrounding region. 

It comprises YARAT Contemporary Art Centre, Museum of Azerbaijani Painting of the 20th-21st Centuries, ARTIM Project Space, ARTIM Lab Studio and an extended educational and public programme. YARAT Art Centre, a 2000 m² 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. 

Museum of Azerbaijani Painting of the 20th-21st Centuries presents a series of exhibitions with the works from the collection of National Museums and Galleries and organizes a public and education programme of events running.

The Museum collaborates closely with educational institutions and the museum's staff familiarises pupils and students with expositions through interactive tours by teaching them to comprehend and interpret art.

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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