For the third chapter in our i-Curate series, Rose Poole catches up with painter, sculptor and Central Saint Martins graduate Aida Mahmudova to learn more about the exciting art scene in Baku.
Click images to enlarge.
Not simply renowned for its black tea and triumphant 2011 victory at Eurovision, Azerbaijan is a country famous for its rich and diverse cultural history, with beautiful capital Baku home to one of the most exciting, emerging art scenes in the world. In 2011, painter, sculptor and Central Saint Martins graduate Aida Mahmudova founded Yarat! – an initiative that nurtures, promotes and exhibits Azerbaijan’s ever-expanding community of talented artists (their show ‘Fly to Baku’ exhibited at London’s Phillips de Pury Gallery last month). i-D caught up with Aida to find out more about the project and allow her to introduce short film The Igniters, which follows the personal stories of Baku-based artists and their work.
“I founded Yarat! in 2011 with the aim to carve a platform, both in Azerbaijan and the world over, for both established and emerging artists. Yarat! means ‘create’ and I set up the studio in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, to provide a creative arena to nurture undiscovered talent.
Following a degree in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, London has a special place in my heart. I feel fortunate that my work allows me to spend time in both these amazing cities: London and Baku. My personal work is a mixture of painting and sculpture.
Not only has the art scene in Baku steadily grown and the city developed into a hub of artistic talent, the art created by Yarat! artists has also been exhibited internationally with numerous exhibitions and art galleries hosting the work globally. 21 Yarat! artists including Faig Ahmed, Altai Sadiqzadeh and Rashad Alakbarov are currently exhibiting as part of “Fly to Baku,” an international exhibition of Azeri art that has exhibited at Phillip’s de Pury Gallery London, as well as major galleries in Paris and Berlin. The exhibition currently resides in Moscow. Curated by Herve Mikaeloff (curator for LVMH) and rooted in a thousand-year-old past, the exhibition clearly reflects the country’s cultural character – one that is full of life, colour and contrast. These three artists’ work are also being exhibited in an upcoming exhibition at Sotheby’s London, focusing on art from the Caucasus region from the 4th March, entitled, “At The Crossroads.”
The short film, made by renowned film director Adrian Steirn, depicts the story of some of these artists based in Baku, with insight and comment from industry leaders Simon de Pury and Herve Mikaeloff (mentioned above). Adrian is a leading photographer and filmmaker known primarily for his wildlife photography. However, his unique ability to present the true narrative of his subjects is celebrated through this short film. He has created a diverse video that narrates the vibrant contrast found in Baku; it’s a contrast of East meets West and where the Old meets the New.”
Text: Rose Poole
Film and Photography: Courtesy of Yarat!