Pavillion of Republic of Azerbaijan



Commissioner/Curator – Leyla Akhundzada

Co-commissioner – Vittorio Urbani

Organization – Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Republic of Azerbaijan




Tair Salakhov

Naila Sultan

Tarlan Gorchu

Teymur Rustamov

Teymur Daimi

Niyaz Najafov

Farid Rasulov

Khatt Art Group




The idea of the pavilion found its expression in Descartes’ famous words “Cogito ergo sum” and to blend the art of the chosen artists with the context of contemporary art is actually tearing the substance of the latter and compromising a specific regime of actuality, the presence or absence of which in art objects defines its affiliation or not with contemporary art. Let’s say in advance that the artists presented in Azerbaijan’s pavilion are, with some proviso, close to a psycho-type of non-actual artists, the same psycho-type which many contemporary art analysts consider to become the dominating psycho-type in the current millennium. 


What is implied here? What does the psycho-type of a non-actual artist represent? And what does it have to do with Descartes with his looking so far away from actual demands cogito? The point is that by taking Descartes’ saying “I think, therefore I exist” as reference point the contemporary artist (curator, art manager, art critic etc) immediately challenges all contemporary art as an amalgam of certain meanings formed during the course of the whole last century. At the beginning of the III millennium contemporary art is a well articulated sphere with its own tradition, laws and regulations of behavior. This quite harsh and ruthless sphere corresponds with the dynamics of contemporary life and its distinctive elements starting from mobile telephones, cable and satellite TV to the internet, the triumph of the music video mentality of MTV to the omnipotence of transnational corporations. This is what the globalizing world is all about and in which cultural differences are seen more and more seldom and in which all cities take up uniformed appearances. Thus contemporary art, itself being a part of this global world, became transnational. Exhibitions of this art wherever they are held - be it Venice, Baku or New York - are identical in their character and only differ by the level of technological equipment and size.


On the one side integration in the context of contemporary art is equal to entering the world community and therefore mastering the transnational language of contemporary art is very important. On the other side the necessity to distance oneself from the contemporary culture format is simmering. Why? Because the present situation is somewhat different. It is not a secret that many western intellectuals in the sphere of contemporary art do not hide their disappointment of what this art has become and where it is “going”. The essence of this position is as follows: contemporary art emerged at the beginning of the last century as a revolutionary occurrence directed against the values of bourgeois culture, exhausted its critical vanguard potential by the end of the century and lost the battle to the Market Almighty and become an integral part of the capitalist economy (the postmodernism situation is a sure sign of contemporary art surrendering to consumer “ideology”).


Thus the “non-actual” artists represents not an extent but a unique point (thought/spirit), a radical subjective beginning, in one word, his authentic “I”. He distances himself from the vanity of the regime of actuality, from “intellectual” fashion imposed by the System, he throws off everything that is needed by contemporary culture, say, worries about a marketing strategy, image policy and ratings (all that what contributes to the notion of “career”) and consequently finds true freedom. Freedom of speaking out in a personal unique Language and not on behalf of contemporary art per se but on behalf of his own Personality, thus bearing a far more fundamental and deep Spiritual Tradition…



Leyla Akhundzada, Teymur Daimi



About artists:


Tair Salakhov


Maybe from all Azerbaijani artists Tair Salakhov is the most successful and known in the world. Only he, to be more exact his creativity is able to reflect the whole epoch – the Soviet epoch which, despite all lacks and tragedies, nevertheless, was full of the latent romanticism and a naive faith in social justice. Being bright representative of a direction of socialist realism dominating during that period and so-called «severe style» as a segment of this direction, he has managed to be pulled out from those ideological frameworks and to create quite chamber and dramatic works aimed to not only mind, but also to heart of each spectator. But the strongest side of the artist is monumental, artistic-plastic thought. Tair Salakhov has become famous for his monumental paintings which, nevertheless, are deprived from false pathos.


«To you, humanity» work is the most characteristic both for the style of socialist realism, and for creativity of Tair Salakhov himself. Two semifigures – the Man and the Woman – against a background of space are as rockets directed forward, to «the bright future». In such manner the artist has symbolically represented all mankind directed to light and bearing light to all mankind.



Naila Sultan


Artist’s creativity could be defined as «insistence in truth». Against background of globalisation and escalating of information technology dynamics, when world is unified with a velocity of light and there is no place on the earth for Distinctions, Nailya Sultan fanatically continues creative activity of medieval Azerbaijani artists-miniaturists. Such persistent and unconditional observation of traditions, when the modern world insists on continuous innovations demands extraordinary courage, unshakable creative will and selfless devotion.


Graphic sheets of artist are sustained in aesthetics of the Azerbaijan medieval miniature main objective of which is representation of Beauty as one of the basic attributes of the Divine. It would seem that these refined works are far from the spirit of technologically and conceptually refined contemporary art which is the child of the European culture for which, according to Nietzsche «God is dead» ever since the epoch of Education. But the thing is that Azerbaijani artist doesn’t know all this and doesn’t want to know it, for her God is still Alive - God who as it is told in the Sacred Koran, «is beautiful and loves everything beautiful».


Tarlan Qorchu


Possessing flexible and contemporary artistical thinking, Tarlan Qorchu in his creativity always appeals to ancient national traditions. A subject of his interest is pre-Islamic aesthetics reflected in his modified "carpet" creativity and Islamic aesthetics he complies with, performing from time to time calligraphic works.


In a series of the modified carpets which are the part of “Virtual Carpets” project, the artist solves an uneasy problem – to create type of the carpet passing through a prism of perception of modern person. In that case it was necessary to balance on the verge of impossibility – to create a modern carpet that in itself already is nonsense. The carpet is the product of especially ethnographic creativity which is not adjoining in any way with atmosphere of a modern life. To what extent the artist was able to solve this problem should be defined by each individual spectator, including those who up to now didn’t have a notion about existence of rich tradition of Azerbaijani carpet weaving.      


Teymur Rustamov


Despite intense search in the field of form-plastic structures of conceptual art, Teymur Rustamov, nevertheless, doesn’t like that much communicating with art community thereby, showing that engagement in art represents for him personal intellectual interest but not means for realisation of career within the framework of modern art institutions. Such approach, on one hand, certainly, in definite degree marginalises a position of the artist who takes the risk to remain on the verge of artistic activities. But, on the other hand, artist observing this independent strategy is released from burden of false obligations imposed on him by society. Having freed himself, i.e. becoming inaccessible to aggressive vanity of this world, he can conduct personal art research of a reality in quiet and concentrated manner, thinking only about cleanliness and honesty of this research. In addition, it is necessary to mention that Teymur Rustamov is rare type of the modern artist who in his creativity harmoniously combines nonconformist capacity of conceptual ascetics and almost pop-artistic development of the form, adjoining with conformist design.


Teymur Rustamov’s work «I trust» represents complicated multimedia installation that comprises the whole complex of flickering meanings. Main structure-forming “dimensions” of installation are History, Memory and Time. Work is substantially autobiographical and represents the original information capsule that comprises fresh memory about what happened with mankind in a contemporary history (events and documentary facts from world history are presented in slide film). But, first of all this installation mirrors a reflexion of Teymur Rustamov himself, who lived considerable interval of time in the USSR, over his own personal experience. In other words, installation represents a projection of memory, consciousness and sub-consciousness of the author who lived through basic events occurring in his former, already nonexistent country, and actually all over the world as his own, that is relating to his private life and destiny. Thus, this work is the sum of the certain historical period, a boundary, being on which artist tries to comprehend a world history and his own place in it.


Teymur Daimi


Creativity of Teymur Daimi bears multimedia and multicultural character. Working in the intersection of visual art, experimental cinema (film direction) and philosophy he preaches ideas of trans-professionalism in culture. For the trans-professional as for intellectual of new type fundamental thing is not a certain media technology or creative discipline but the possibility of  combination of senses and the super-senses that build the multilevel Spiritual Message, addressed to deep neuropsychological layers of the person-spectator. Thus, personal creativity, first of all, turns to means of intensive exploration of extreme meanings; secondly, it appears connected with deep spiritual needs of the creative person (both the author, and the spectator) as a counter to understanding of actual art as instantaneous visual journalism and means of achievement of social, career success.


In a video film "Idyll" Teymur Daimi investigates private and social borders. How can ordinary human couple keep the internal idyll against incessant threats from crazy modern world, ready at any moment to blow up a capsule of privacy and destroy idyll? Or maybe, aspiration to such an idyll while every second tragedies and accidents occur on the earth is a fainthearted escape from a reality and from oneself?


Niyaz Najafov


Niyaz Najafov corresponds to the type of artist-autist and nonconformist, whose style is more typical for the end of XIX and beginning of XX century. He is hardly interested in events taking place in space of so-called contemporary art. If five or ten years ago such type of artist would be unambiguously identified as fringe and outsider due to excessive hermiticity of his autistic creativeness, nowadays when contemporary art is on the threshold of certain structural mutation, such psychotype of the artist becomes more and more claimed. To sterile orderliness and technological flawlessness of generally faceless actual art Niyaz opposes demonstration of his internal pain as an experience of personal-existential bound. This suffered though and candid position baring an artist's soul also protects his internal world from intrusions of curious and cynical society. However, splashing out painful fantasies on a theme of daily horror, in itself, is already psychotherapeutic action for the artist who is not able to withstand such a problematic presence of something resembling a human within which is far from human world.


Farid Rasulov


This young artist comprehended that possessed extraordinary creative potential. He has unexpectedly perceived that he could successfully express his attitude towards the world by means of modern art. The works of the artist show that he is intently peering into the surrounding reality and snatching out those fragments, which in itself are quite self-sufficient to be presented as objects of art. In other words the artist uses ready-made principle invented by Marcel Duchamp, but not in terms of objects of a material world but in respect of manipulation with untouched documentary fragments of the surrounding reality. Therefore, Farid Rasulov’s favourite media is video dispassionately recording pieces of world snatched by artist’s sight, which after representation in display area can be allotted with different meanings and senses.


Video «Inertia» shows prosaic absurdity of our ordinary life. The person cutting meat is the vegetarian (it should be noted that according to the author of work, the vegetarian against his own will, i.e. because of some illness doctors have forbidden him to consume meat). Slightly obtrusive, but pleasant background music is not in harmony in any way with "a bloodthirsty" visual range. The contradiction on contradiction. This knot of absurdities yields an interesting result – naive poetizing of commonness and monotony of existence, which in itself is touching and romantic in our century of complete banality of life.


The object «safe map of the world» reflects in-depth desire of the author to see the world without continental monsters – carriers of potential threat of destruction of a planet as a result of possible nuclear war. Map of the world without leading nuclear powers – no comments …


Khatt Art group


Art initiative group "Khatt" directed by Togrul Efendiev has been established in 1998 in city of Baku. Its main objective is elaborations in the field of design and multimedia projects. The group defines as the corner-stone the task of maximum utilization of newest information technology.


Interactive game "Carpet" is a computer game in which potential spectator-player is offered to design the carpet from decorative elements of the Azerbaijani carpet available in the database of the game. Thus, democratization of the most ancient tradition of carpet weaving is taking place. Unlike this strictly hierarchic tradition, in this activity everyone turns to the creator of the piece of work belonging to ancient tradition of the Azerbaijani carpet.