16 September 2020 - 3 March 2021

EMERGING VOICES: STORIES FROM ISOLATION

Group Show of Female Artists from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia 

 

Curated by Salima Sarsenova and Zhanna Guzhavina, Sapar Contemporary Central Asian Incubator

 

In collaboration with Ta(r)dino 6 Art Platform and Project ArtBeat

 

June 28th - September 28th, 2020

  • Sapar Contemporary is proud to present Emerging Voices: Stories from Isolation, an online exhibition of female artists from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. In addition to the shared experience of the current global pandemic, these three countries also share centuries of interconnected trade-routes, similarities in folklore and cultural traditions, as well as a Soviet past. All of the work in the show was created in 2020 while much of the world has been in quarantine or some form of lockdown. The works reflect on this bewildering and surreal experience of collective isolation and how this extended period at home has forced artists to look within and around themselves in search of inspiration andmotivation.

     

    During this challenging and historical time, when the world seems fractured and wounded, Kazakh artist Saule Dyussenbina examines her own body as coming apart and reassembling together in surrealistic and playful ornamental motifs. She incorporates flowers and bones into her wallpaper patterns as symbols of life and death to signify feelings of helplessness and disembodiment. Georgian artist Tamar Botchorishvili presents works similar in approach to Dyussenbina and isolates one part of the body to express her feelings about her recent experiences. The playful eyes in her collages suggest a sense of concealed emotion, anxiety about the unpredictable future, and anticipation of what is yet to come. Azerbaijani artist Shahnaz Aghayeva also reflects on the female body while offering a sense of growth and transformation through woodcut abstractions and organic forms. Her figures seem to literally break the framework with their softly-curved yet powerful, femininebodies.

     

    Kazakh artists Aziza Shadenova and Yerkezhan Abuova reflect on their experiences of isolation through their paintings of household objects and landscapes. Shadenova represents the fractured state of the world with broken objects such as a bursting balloon and shattered plate shards captured in a graceful moment of explosion. Abuova’s work reflects on the vastness of landscapes, especially on the plains of her native Kazakhstan; while showing the juxtaposition of her nomadic homeland with the current feeling of claustrophobia. Georgian artist Maka Batiashvili also created a series of paintings that reflect on the quietness of isolation. Her works appear to be serene and alienating at the same time. Batiashvili’s painting of a smiling pomegranate is similar to Shadenova’s bursting pomegranate, which highlights an interesting reference of the fruit within the folklore and rituals of both nations. 

     

    The artistic duo from Kazakhstan, Mika Barny and Bakhtiyar Berkin, chose to express their quarantine experience through a series of photographs, which they combined into a collage of recurring events. By documenting their daily rituals, they created a window into their immediate surroundings that include symbols of quarantine - tissues, pillows, and pills. Baku based artist Shalala Salamzadeh also works in the digital format to create her art with the help of artificial intelligence. Her works reflects on the transformative stages of self-isolation, and how the experience has quickly gone from denial and anxiety to both acceptance and harmony - all while staying online all daylong.

     

    The unfolding conversation between these female artists from Central Asia and the Caucasus offers new perspectives on the relationships between women and their physical and digital environments, as well as complex reflections on their bodies that are now forced to comply with the regiment of isolation and hygiene. In this period of isolation, artists were alone for extended periods of time; it is as if everything else has been stripped away except for their bodies and most immediate surroundings. The artists reflect on this state through surreal and dreamlike detachment, thus morphingand transforming parts and objects in their physical surroundings as well asbody parts, limbs, hearts, lungs, and other body parts. Through their work, the artists take us through this flow of experiences that so many of us are faced with: containment, alienation, detachment, transformation, and ultimately, growth. As our planet undergoes major changes during these difficult times, we turn to the artists to document and express our collective experiences through their visual language as they capture our new reality.

  • Saule Dyussenbina

    Saule Dyussenbina

    "The events of the last couple of months in isolation and the subsequent ones, with the growing spread of the virus, accompanied with a feeling of helplessness in the face of the cruel insuperability of death, have become like habitual wallpaper in our lives. Flowers and bones, as a symbols of life and death, grow to universal proportions and when they surround us from all sides, we again try to understand them." 

     

     

  • Saule Dyussenbina (Karaganda, 1971) is a Kazakh multimedia artist known for her whimsical revisions of Western art history and humorous inserts of Central Asian culture, Asian female artists and herself into the male dominated Western canon. In her pantings, watercolors, prints and animations she addresses feminism, urbanism, Central Asian identity, and the role of the artist through the prism of her nomadic heritage. Notable recent exhibitions include "Post-Nomadic Mind" at the Wapping Project, London (2018), "Postcolonial Art in Central Asia" at the Gedok Gallery in Karlsruhe (2018), "Eurasian Utopia: Post Scriptum" at Suwon Park Museum of Art, South Korea (2018), and "Kultureller Dialog in Eurasien" in Vienna, Austria (2019).

  • Shahnaz Aghayeva

    Shahnaz Aghayeva

    Liberation

    “This work is an allegory to life transitions and experiences aimed at conscious growth. By evolving to a new level, to a new quality and a new experience, one could be overtaken by expectation and fear. The work is done in the woodcut technique and hand printed on paper.”

     

    Uncertainty

    “The central female figure on a purple background symbolizes melancholic temperament. It shows the transformation of a person, turning to solitude in order to find its fullness, to reflect on the existential philosophical search for the relationship between humans and nature, existence and the universe. The moment of brushing the hair thus has a second meaning for a refreshment. The work is executed in the woodcut technique, supplemented with bronze foil and hand printed on paper.”

    • Shahnaz Aghayeva Liberation, 2020 Woodcut, hand printmaking Edition 2 of 2 100 x 80 cm $800

      Shahnaz Aghayeva

      Liberation, 2020

      Woodcut, hand printmaking

      Edition 2 of 2

      100 x 80 cm

      $800

    • Shahnaz Aghayeva Uncertainty, 2020 Woodcut, bronze foil, hand printmaking Edition 2 of 2 95 x 75 cm $800

      Shahnaz Aghayeva

      Uncertainty, 2020

      Woodcut, bronze foil, hand printmaking

      Edition 2 of 2

      95 x 75 cm

      $800

  • Shahnaz Aghayeva (Sumqayit1984) is a Baku based artist. She received her master’s degree in Graphics from the Azerbaijan State Academy of Art. Her practice has developed towards a cross media approach exploring performance, drawing, VR and installation. In visual art, Aghayeva explores internal conflict states and the female body via abstraction and organic forms. In 2017, she participated at ARTIM LAB which was followed by a series of exhibitions featured at ARTIM Project Space, Baku. Since then her work has been shown in various exhibitions locally, as well as abroad in venues, such as Baku International Contemporary Art Biennale Aluminium, Baku (2019), Gala Museum Complex, Gala (2019), YARAT Contemporary Art Space, Baku (2019), Museum of Modern Art, Tbilisi (2019), Batumi Contemporary Art Space, Batumi (2019) and Galerie Dix9, Paris (2019). Her work “Unrealistic Comfort Zone“ has been selected by the jury of the international Biennial Print Exhibit: 2018 ROC Taiwan.

  • Maka Batiashvili

    Maka Batiashvili

    “I always had periods, when I stayed in my house for some time to work very hard and to obtain peace within myself. It was like my personal quarantine. It turns out if you wish for something, you should be very careful. I dreamed of clean air and the cities with empty streets, which you could see in old black and white movies. I have them both now, but it seems dangerous to walk outside and to breath the fresh air. I found out in this quarantine the importance of sounds, turns out that life has its own sound. Each of our movement utters this sound. I listen to all of them and it gives me hope that life has not stopped. I don’t know how to fight this enemy, an enemy which I cannot see. The best way is to stay home, silently and alone. Silence fights invisible things as if nothing was battling against nothing. But somehow this invisible enemy has revealed vaguely visible things like mountains, sky, streets.” 

    • Maka Batiashvili Pause, 2020 Oil on Canvas 60 x 90 cm $2,600

      Maka Batiashvili

      Pause, 2020

      Oil on Canvas

      60 x 90 cm

      $2,600

    • Maka Batiashvili Coffee, 2020 Oil on Canvas 37 x 66 cm $2,000

      Maka Batiashvili

      Coffee, 2020

      Oil on Canvas

      37 x 66 cm

      $2,000

    • Maka Batiashvili Shadow, 2020 Acrylic on Canvas 75 x 94 cm $2,800

      Maka Batiashvili

      Shadow, 2020

      Acrylic on Canvas

      75 x 94 cm

      $2,800

    • Maka Batiashvili Laughing Pomegranate, 2020 Acrylic on Canvas 90 x 100 cm $3,200

      Maka Batiashvili

      Laughing Pomegranate, 2020

      Acrylic on Canvas

      90 x 100 cm

      $3,200

  • Maka Batiashvili (Tbilisi, 1975)  works in painting, book illustration, video art, documentary film. Her inspiration is derived from the moments of mundane reality that usually turn into important visual images. She has shown in group shows at Beijing International Art Biennale, the Contemporary Art Center in Tel Aviv, Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi, National Museum in Atlanta, as well as in London, Munich, Florence, and Istanbul. Maka lives and works in Tbilisi, Georgia.

  • Aziza Shadenova

    Aziza Shadenova

    "These isolated weeks of quarantine inspired me to make a series of paintings on the subject of exploded objects. I like the idea of still life being portrayed as a climax of disruption and fracturing. As if being paused in the crescendo and yet look so restful and tranquil. I guess you can say that is how I felt during these times of isolation, peaceful on the outside but excited and agitated on the inside. The anxiety came from the worry about the world and the pandemic situation. As well as not being as free as I usually am, not being able to go where I want to go, or meet who I want to meet. I guess you can say the bubble was about to burst. But these paintings have literally saved me and working on them has been the most serene times during this time. I like painting as a form of meditation. And painting the motion of destruction has made me very collected and calm. My Central Asian roots are echoed in the chosen oriental-ornamental approach to stylize my broken ‘fragments’. The color scheme was mainly inspired by the traffic lights. As a homage to childhood lessons on how and when to cross the road. I also think this time has made people realize that sometimes it's ok to stop and pause for a while before the new beginnings."

     

     

  • Aziza Shadenova (Urgench, 1989) is a Kazakh artist raised in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. She works in different mediums such as: painting, video, photography, sculpture and performance. Shadenova was one of the few young artists featured in the Central Asian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013). She has participated in group shows at Sotheby’s, London; 4th Moscow international Biennale for young art, Moscow; Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Arts, Bishkek; EMMA Espoo Museum of Fine Arts, Espoo; Home gallery,Manchester; as well as in France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Argentina and the UK. Aziza lives and works in Hastings, UK.

  • Shalala Salamzadeh

    Shalala Salamzadeh

    The Non-Figurative Series are a part of illustration series inspired by Middle Eastern miniatures created using neural connections and artificial intelligence. The figurative art of the East has been a topic of religious debate, while art created with the help of artificial intelligence, partly erases the will of the artist and sets his own algorithms, turning figurative into abstract and vice versa.“

    • Shalala Salamzadeh Non-figurative (series) 1, 2020 Digital art, neural network, AI generated Print on forex, Edition 1 of 15 79 x 105 cm $300

      Shalala Salamzadeh

      Non-figurative (series) 1, 2020

      Digital art, neural network, AI generated

      Print on forex, Edition 1 of 15

      79 x 105 cm 

       $300

    • Shalala Salamzadeh Non-figurative (series) 2, 2020 Digital art, neural network, AI generated Print on forex, Edition 1 of 15 79 x 105 cm $300

      Shalala Salamzadeh

      Non-figurative (series) 2, 2020

      Digital art, neural network, AI generated

      Print on forex, Edition 1 of 15

      79 x 105 cm 

      $300

    • Shalala Salamzadeh Non-figurative (series) 3, 2020 Digital art, neural network, AI generated Print on forex, Edition 1 of 15 79 x 105 cm $300

      Shalala Salamzadeh

      Non-figurative (series) 3, 2020

      Digital art, neural network, AI generated

      Print on forex, Edition 1 of 15

      79 x 105 cm 

      $300

    • Shalala Salamzadeh Non-figurative (series) 4, 2020 Digital art, neural network, AI generated Print on forex, Edition 1 of 15 79 x 105 cm $300

      Shalala Salamzadeh

      Non-figurative (series) 4, 2020

      Digital art, neural network, AI generated

      Print on forex, Edition 1 of 15

      79 x 105 cm 

      $300

    • Shalala Salamzadeh Non-figurative (series) 5, 2020 Digital art, neural network, AI generated Print on forex, Edition 1 of 15 79 x 105 cm $300

      Shalala Salamzadeh

      Non-figurative (series) 5, 2020

      Digital art, neural network, AI generated

      Print on forex, Edition 1 of 15

      79 x 105 cm 

      $300

  • Shalala Salamzadeh (Baku, 1995) is an artist and a multidisciplinary designer based in Baku, Azerbaijan. In 2016 she graduated from the faculty of Computer Sciences and Design of the Western University in Baku. Year later she joined the curatorial practice course by YARAT! Contemporary art space and curated the “Rebirth.exe” project in ARTIM Project Space, where she participated as an artist too. Shalala continued her art activities joining a year-long ARTIM Lab project, and showing in various exhibitions with video and digital art. After winning the ARTIM Lab project, she became artist in residence of YARAT! Contemporary Art Space. The combination of Azerbaijani poetry and generative art was the main concept of her “Poetry of the Universe” video that was shown during the annual Nasimi festival in Baku. In 2019, Shalala participated at The Wrong Biennale from Azerbaijan and NEoN Digital Arts Festival of Scotland. 

     

  • Tamar Botchorishvili

    Tamar Botchorishvili

    “The drawings from the series “Precious Stone”, which were done in the times of the pandemic represent mixed media works on paper. It was a period of new experiences and discoveries; I would rather call it a period of self examination. I found a way to discover total freedom in this narrowly isolated space when feeling augmented fear, hopelessness and fear for the unpredictable future. These are series of portraits, which express without any angst the drama of recent experiences and events as they smile with anticipation of the unexpected future. Faces expressing different characters and feelings speak to me and show me if anything stays out of my sight, this way hinting about my hidden soul.”

    • Tamar Botchorishvili Precious Stone, 2020 Collage, Embroidery, Ink, ColouredPencils and Gouache on Paper 48x48 cm $900

      Tamar Botchorishvili

      Precious Stone, 2020

      Collage, Embroidery, Ink, ColouredPencils and Gouache on Paper

      48x48 cm

      $900

    • Tamar Botchorishvili Precious Stone, 2020 Collage, Embroidery, Ink, ColouredPencils and Gouache on Paper 48x48 cm $900

      Tamar Botchorishvili

      Precious Stone, 2020

      Collage, Embroidery, Ink, ColouredPencils and Gouache on Paper

      48x48 cm

      $900

    • Tamar Botchorishvili Precious Stone, 2020 Collage, Embroidery, Ink, ColouredPencils and Gouache on Paper 48x48 cm $900

      Tamar Botchorishvili

      Precious Stone, 2020

      Collage, Embroidery, Ink, ColouredPencils and Gouache on Paper

      48x48 cm

      $900

    • Tamar Botchorishvili Precious Stone, 2020 Collage, Embroidery, Ink, ColouredPencils and Gouache on Paper 48x48 cm $900

      Tamar Botchorishvili

      Precious Stone, 2020

      Collage, Embroidery, Ink, ColouredPencils and Gouache on Paper

      48x48 cm

      $900

  • Tamar Botchorishvili’s (Kutaisi, 1980) artworks represent an attempt of self-reflexion and self-understanding. Graphic drawings and objects created by a combination of different materials and techniques tell the story of past experiences, drama and unexpected future. Her artworks include small-scale sculptures and drawings. On the one hand, these artworks represent cheerfulness and a playful aesthetics but on the other hand, they express topics such as: family and society, body and sexuality, death and subconscious. Tamar has been exhibited in Georgia,  Germany, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

  • Berkin & Mika

    Berkin & Mika

    Recurring Events is a series of photographs and a handwritten note combined into one collage. This series explores the questions where, why and how we live as well as emotion and behavioural patterns experienced during isolation. Recurring event is any event that occurs more than once. During this period we found ourselves repeating certain actions over and over again almost as if it became some kind of a ritual. Some of them were toxic, some were not. We decided to capture those “rituals” and depict them as photographs. During isolation we didn’t have access to our studios and had to improvise with objects that we have access to at our home, which made us depart from our usual style of building exaggerated and difficult sets. This process was liberating and challenging at the same time. Handwritten note serves the purpose of a diary where we ask ourselves the question how to break the cycle."

  • Mika Barny (Almaty, 1991) and Bakhtiyar Berkin (Almaty, 1991) work as a collaborative duo, whose body of work reflects how modern social, economic and political issues affect their perception of the surrounding world as well as their personal relationship. The artistic duo builds elaborate, exaggerated and highly stylised sets as installations and use film photography to document it. Bakhtiyar Berkin received his BA in Fine Arts from Camberwell College of Arts, London, and MA in Photography in London College of Communication. Mika Barny graduated from the London School of Economics with a BA in Economics. Mika Berkin’s work have been displayed in exhibitions in UK and Kazakhstan. They work and live between Almaty and London.

  • Yerkezhan Abuova

    Yerkezhan Abuova

    “During quarantine I started to miss my hometown and wanted to relive my experiences there. I thought about how great it would be if I could carry any place with me and go there whenever I want. I chose to recreate a famous lake in Kazakhstan, called Lake Kaindy. Many years ago there was an earthquake that caused all of the trees around the lake to fall into the water. Somehow the trees fell perfectly straight into the lake and the cold water preserved them, so that instead of dying they grew upside down inside the of lake, adapting to their new home and their new environment. For Landscape, New Reality, I combined some of my favorite pictures from Kazakhstan together on Photoshop, I combined multiple places together to make a new reality. This artwork shows a collage of painted images that create a new, more personal landscape. Both of my artworks incorporate cubes to reflect the sense of being boxed in and feeling surrounded by invisible walls during this time of isolation." 

     

  • Yerkezhan Abuova (Berlin, 2001) is a Kazakh artist raised in the United States and born in Germany. She has worked in a variety of media over the years including drawing, painting, sculpture, design, animation, and installation. Yerke has participated in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for multiple years, which allowed her to exhibit her work in the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as facilities in Washington D.C. She also participated in the Doodle For Google Competition where she won the regional award for New York City. She is currently studying at Cornell University as an art major. Her work mostly explores the themes of absence and memory.

  • Curators

    Salima Sarsenova and Zhanna Guzhavina are the curators of this exhibition and partners at SG Projects. They have a continuous collaborative relationship with Sapar Contemporary as part of the Sapar Contemporary Central Asian Incubator. Together, they have previously curated “New Mythologies of Central Asia” in New York. SG Projects was established by Sarsenova and Guzhavina to bring international art to Central Asia, support Central Asian artists globally, and promote the understanding of contemporary Central Asian culture.

     

    Salima Sarsenova holds a BA in Art History from New York University. Prior to establishing SG Projects with her long time friend Zhanna, Salima held a senior role at Sapar Contemporary gallery in New York for two years. Zhanna Guzhavina holds a BA in Business Administration and French from University of Southern California and an MSc in Economics from Imperial College London. Before co-founding SG Projects, Zhanna gained vast experience in the luxury goods sector and digital marketing, working in cities such as London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Paris, Singapore.

  • Partners

    Ta(r)dino 6 Art Platform

    Launched on February 1, 2019, Ta(r)dino 6 Art Platform is a Baku-born self-organised art initiative with international outreach. With a gallery in Icherisheher, the historic part of Baku, and a vintage flat in downtown, the platform fills in the niche in providing art professionals from Azerbaijan and beyond with the opportunity to explore their ideas in depth. Programs to date include exhibitions, commissioned site-specific artworks, artist talks and workshops by local and international artists and curators to help grow Baku’s emerging art community. Ta(r)dino 6 supports the discourse on Azerbaijani contemporary art within international context, with a special focus on gender, identity and equality in the art world. Ta(r)dino 6 is the only initiative from Azerbaijan that is a member of several international and regional professional associations - CIMAM, Culture & Creativity Association an associate member of TEH. In September 2019 Ta(r)dino 6 was selected to TEH 2020 Startup Programme.

  • Project ArtBeat

    Established by Natia Bukia, Natia Chkhartishvili and Salome Vakhania in 2017, Gallery ArtBeat is a pioneering contemporary art gallery based in Tbilisi, Georgia, representing mid-career and emerging artists. Between 2014-2017 the gallery started its journey as a project space, a moving gallery using a shipping container for site-specific exhibitions to introduce contemporary art in peripheral locations where museums and galleries do not function. The gallery has a significant presence on the international art scene, collaborating with major institutions and museums and taking part in art fairs such as NADA Miami, Untitled Miami, Art Dubai, Artissima, CI. Their aim is to support artists throughout their artistic journeys, foster cultural activities both locally and abroad, collaborate with international galleries and organisations and mark Georgia on an international art map.