55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia
1 June – 24 November 2013
The Republic of Azerbaijan at the 55th Venice
Biennale presents ORNAMENTATION
Butunay Hagverdiyev | CHINGIZ | Fakhriyya Mammadova| Farid Rasulov
Rashad Alakbarov | Sanan Aleskerov
Preview 29-31 May 2013 | Palazzo Lezze, Campo S. Stefano, San Marco 2949, Venice
ORNAMENTATION presents six artistic positions situated between the Islamic
visual tradition - with its great ornamental legacy - and modern influences. From
different perspectives the works by Farid Rasulov, Rashad Alakbarov, Butunay
Hagverdiyev, Chingiz, Fakhriyya Mammadova and Sanan Aleskerov reflect both
Azerbaijan’s thousand-year history and the fundamental changes faced by the former
Soviet republic since its independence in 1991.
In 2007 the country was represented at the Venice biennial for the first time. The
new Museum of Modern Art in Azerbaijan was opened in 2009; since that time, it has
made an important contribution to the dialogue and the development of the Azerbaijan
artists. Since 2004 the independent Heydar Aliyev Foundation Azerbaijan’s plays
an important role in supporting and promoting the young expanding Azerbaijani art
scene abroad. For this year’s 55th Biennale di Venezia the Heydar Aliyev Foundation
appointed Hervé Mikaeloff to curate the pavilion.
His concept for the exhibition ORNAMENTATION elaborates the far-reaching importance
of the tradition and ornamental culture of the country Azerbaijan with its visual
traditions and forms of expression handed down from the ancient and medieval
periods of the Middle East. Ornament and abstraction represent defining concepts in
this context and are taken up in conceptually strong works. “In Azerbaijan, daily life
represents a constant source of inspiration for creation especially through decorative
arts. Since the beginning of the 20th century artists have used ornamentation and
decorative patterns to fuel their research of surface, space and new forms. Nowadays a
new generation of artists explores and updates the approach to ornamentation through
a contemporary vision, raising the essence of ornament in relation with the perception
of the national cultural heritage as a major artistic question”, says Mikaeloff.
In his installations Farid Rasulov (born 1985) pays tribute to the ancient silk route
between Europe and the orient by confronting the Venetian palazzo with traditional
Islamic patterns. Carpets with Azerbaijani ornaments are covering a whole scene
creating a shift in space.
Chingiz’ (born 1964) installation Blank History – consisting of a white carpet without
any ornaments and various piles of shapes and symbols in front of it - appears as an
approach to the concept of history and its interpretation in different historical periods.
In his work he presents ornaments as mediums of conveyed historical meanings.
Rashad Alakbarov (born 1979) refers in his light installations Miniature and
Intersection to “Shebeke” - stained-glass windows made by old national Azerbaijani
masters without even using glue or nails. They were in wide use in 18th and 19th
century Azerbaijani architecture.
The painter Butunay Hagverdiyev (born 1989) uses letters to create an abstract
image of non-verbal communication. In the Republic of Azerbaijan, the alphabet has
changed three times. It refers today to a Latin alphabet used for writing the Azerbaijani
language. The previous versions were based on Cyrillic and Arabic scripts.
Fakhriyya Mammadova´s (born 1974) photographs show the fragments of a story
of a young bride. The traditional Azeri wedding ceremony is observed from an exterior
point of view, changing between a documentary and intimate perspective.
The Polaroid series of Sanan Aleskerov (born 1956) shows his personal vision of
social and aesthetical changes in cities and landscapes in Azerbaijan.
After several years at various institutions such as La Fondation Cartier for
Contemporary Arts and Caisse des depots Art Collection French art consultant and
curator Hervé Mikaeloff currently advises and curates for the LVMH group, most
particularly for Louis Vuitton and Sanofi. In 2012 Mikaeloff curated the travelling
exhibition Fly to Baku - Contemporary Art from Azerbaijan that was shown in London,
Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Rome and Vienna showcasing 21 artists and more than hundred
contemporary works from Azerbaijan. Hervé Mikaeloff received Les insignes de
Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the Minsitre de la Culture in 2011.
Commissioner: Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Azerbaijan
Curator: Hervé Mikaeloff
In collaboration with: Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Italy
Coordinator: PDG Arte Communications
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