This content is not available in your region

Baku Museum of Modern Art: The beating heart of Azerbaijan’s contemporary art scene

Baku Museum of Modern Art: The beating heart of Azerbaijan’s contemporary art scene
By Paul Hackett

In recent years, modern art in Azerbaijan has been enjoying something of a renaissance.

Under Soviet rule, and prior to the country’s independence, painters whose creations veered away from what was perceived as artistic orthodoxy were often suppressed.

The recent revival of this alternative art scene is thanks in part to the Baku Museum of Modern Art, home to a host of work by the nation’s contemporary artists, including Rasim Babayev.

"[Rasim Babayev] portrayed people as they should not have looked in Soviet society, in the Soviet Union", art critic Dilara Vagabova told Euronews.

"In particular, at one of the exhibitions, the administration informed him that it could only be opened if he removed a number of his paintings. The artist said: 'I will for God's sake. If some small works are a threat to such a powerful state as the Soviet Union, then let them be removed’". 

Euronews
Azerbaijani artist Batunay Hagverdiyev at the Baku Museum of Modern ArtEuronews

Opened in the capital in 2009, the Museum in Baku houses over 800 avant-garde works of art.

The collection includes masterpieces by renowned artists from Azerbaijan, such as Sattar Bahlulzade, Boyukaga Mirzazade, Elmira Shakhtakhtinskaya, and Tahir Salakhov.

Several prominent creations by Western artists are also on display, most notably by Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall.

"Among the numerous works on display in our museum, the work of the avant-garde artist Aida Makhmudova attracts a great deal of attention among visitors", art expert Lala Guliyeva told Euronews.

"She uses such non-standard material in her work, like charcoal, epoxy resin and construction foam. This technique has a 3-D effect". 

Euronews
Sculptures and paintings at the Baku Museum of Modern ArtEuronews

Built by French architect Jean Nouvel, the Museum of Modern Art’s unusual multidimensional design was inspired by the Azerbaijani artist Altay Sadikh-zadeh.

A popular place among both art lovers and tourists, today it’s one of the capital’s top cultural attractions. 

Located in one of Baku’s busiest districts, the museum is at the core of Azerbaijan’s contemporary art scene that has found renewed vigour over the past decade.

For one well-known local artist, the museum and Baku’s surrounding area are a constant source of inspiration.

“I spend a lot of time on the Caspian coast, one of the beaches right outside of Baku, observing the landscape changes through the seasons", said artist Batunay Hagverdiyev.

"So, in the summer local residents would build lots of temporary structures for those who want to come to the sea for rest. When summer is gone, nature claims them and I depict in my painting the effect of human presence in nature without showing humans”, he added.