21.12.2019 – 19.01.2020
Triumph Gallery, Moscow
Triumph gallery presents the 10th installment in the EXTENSION Project that promotes dialogue with and awareness of contemporary artists from different countries. EXTENSION.AZ: Off the Velvet Chest features 15 artists from Azerbaijan.
The exhibition invites to look at the Azerbaijani contemporary art through the lens and reflected through the preferences of collector Sadaqat Khayal-Kuşku, who has lived abroad since 2008. Motivated by nostalgic feelings for the homeland and a desire to support her contemporaries, especially women artists, the successful manager of a multinational oil company became an art collector. Together with the exhibition curator Asli Samadova and Triumph gallery, Sadaqat selected the most important pieces in her collection to be displayed in Moscow and several Russian cities.
Sadaqat Khayal-Kuşku’s collection originated with a small watercolor landscape by Maral Rahmanzadeh. The future collector got it as a parting gift before she went to live abroad in 2008. This work has been a constant reminder of her past home in Azerbaijan and determined the collector’s interest to women artists. She has gradually turned her collection into a visual diary that reflects Azerbaijan’s past, present and future.
Painting by Irina Eldarova Girls Prefer Oilmen and 8-channel video installations by Orkhan Huseynov Atelier Sovetski produce an immersive experience of an old Baku, a warm southern city of cosmopolites and romantics. Aidan Salakhova and Zarnishan Yusif exhibit true oriental chastity and employ subtle hints to reveal a feminine perspective on the neo-oriental sensuality and sexuality.
Their calm and refined visual language is juxtaposed with the paintings by Niyaz Najafov—permeated with unbridled energy and captivating with the variety of forms and interpretations given to the bourgeois narrative of flowers in a vase. Faig Ahmed, known for his conceptual approach to Azerbaijani carpet-making tradition, presents a monumental video, Social Anatomy. It covers the milestone events in traditional Caucasian culture—birth, maturation, wedding and funeral. The genre of mockumentary and folkloric aesthetics are influences in the works of Farhad Farzaliyev and Tora Aghabayova, who happen to engage in a dialogue at the exhibition. Agil Abdullayev’s photography project Loud Sirens of The Caspian Bodies II stems his interest in the relationship between society, gender and sexuality. These themes are also covered in Inside Me, a video by Vusal Rahim, where the performance artist poses as a mother. Sincerity and bright perception of the world are distinctive qualities of the young artist Medina Kasimova. Alongside metropolitan artists, the collection contains works by women artists from the regions: Surayya Mughanli and Mahabbat Kazimova, who never exhibited outside Azerbaijan before.
A representation of a private collection, Off the Velvet Chest serves to remind us of the imperative to save and preserve the undervalued as well as the most valuable. The exhibition brings together many images, artifacts, observations and functional stories that artists—who are collectors at heart too—produce for the audience. The diversity of techniques and creative approaches enables the exhibition to explore the relationships between the artist and the collector, and to reiterate the importance of personal contribution to culture.