Azerbaijan to get contemporary art space—and maybe a biennial
Aida Mahmudova, the artist, patron and niece of the first lady, is hoping to build up the country’s fledgling art scene
By Cristina Ruiz. Web only
Published online: 02 October 2012
Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, will get a display space for international and local contemporary art within two years and could host a visual arts biennale within three.
Aida Mahmudova, 30, an arts patron who is a niece of the first lady, is currently assembling a collection for the Yarat foundation and artists’ collective she set up a year ago, and has purchased works by the British artist Idris Khan and the Iranian Farhad Moshiri, among others.
The Yarat foundation currently has a small space, but Mahmudova says she is looking for a more suitable building with approximately 1,200 sq. m for displays in which to show the works. The new gallery will also host exhibitions of paintings, sculptures and videos by Azeri artists.
While the contemporary arts scene in the post-Soviet state is still in its infancy, Mahmudova, who is herself a practicing artist and studied at Central Saint Martin’s in London, says she is trying to encourage others to support local artists.
“Most of the collectors here buy post-war art, contemporary art is still new. We’re trying to set a trend to collect people who are younger and have a future ahead of them,” she says.
Launching a contemporary art biennale would galvanise the scene and help put Baku on the international art world map, says Mahmudova. “It’s a big plan for the future, a very important one, so we are currently working out our strategy,” she says.
Yarat’s other initiatives include an arts festival in Baku earlier this year, a display of Azeri contemporary art at the Moscow Biennale, and an exhibition of lots from forthcoming sales at Christie’s co-organised with the auction house last month.
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