17th of January there was an exhibition of 21 centrury azeri artists in London. Leyla Aliyeva, Vice-president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, attended the exhibition too and exhibited also her own work. Here’s a little interview with Leyla and some pictures of that evening.
An exhibition Fly to Baku: Contemporary Art from Azerbaijan is to be held in London from 17 to 29 January 2012 and will feature many artists. It is remarkable that your work will also be on show. Whose idea was this? What are the main objectives of the event?
I have been thinking about holding this exhibition for a few years now. I have to say that talented young people have emerged in Azerbaijan, able to contribute to international art, as did previous generations of artists, sculptors and musicians. The current atmosphere in Baku creates all the conditions for the development of modern art and helps prepare for fully fledged exhibitions at the world level.
The exhibition of modern art of Azerbaijan will feature work by 21 artists who work in such diverse media as fine arts, graphics, sculpture, photography and video.
The exhibition is organized and curated by people well versed in the art world – the curator is Hervé Mikaeloff and the organizer Simon de Pury. Special thanks to them for this! They came up with the main idea and concept of the exhibition which will open in London on 17 January.
We do hope that the works of Azerbaijani artists will find an audience and this exhibition will lay the foundation for the entry of talented young Azerbaijanis to international art. This exhibition is yet another chance to show our culture and national characteristics.
Are exhibitions of the work of young and established Azerbaijani artists planned for other cities and towns, including Baku?
At this stage we are working hard on the exhibition in London, since this is the first exhibition of this scale and diversity. It is a great responsibility to represent Azerbaijan in such a respected place.
After the successful completion of the exhibition in London we are planning to exhibit work in Berlin, Paris and Rome, and, probably, in the United States and Moscow, as well as other cities that are centres of modern art. And certainly we are going to hold it in Baku but we want to do this at the end. Baku for us is the start and end of our projects and goals.
I would like to move away from official questions. You are a busy person, you have a number of projects, different initiatives and despite this you also paint. How do you find time for this and what does art mean to you?
Painting is really a great pleasure, because it is soothing, I would say, pacifying and it either works or it doesn’t. I can take a break of half a year in painting or I can paint five or six works a month and when you start drawing, it is impossible to stop and do anything else. Probably, everyone who paints feels the same. In other words, this is a great pleasure but if you cannot do it, you have to wait for inspiration.
Now, for example, I am working hard on illustrations for a book of national fairy tales for children which will be published in Russian and be called “Once Upon a Time” (“Biri var idi, biri yox idi”). This idea is interesting and close to my heart, and takes up a lot of my time, along with other work. But I want to make something special and very interesting for children.
I have been working hard on the exhibition in London over the past week. I will probably exhibit five or six works along with other Azerbaijani artists.
Most people know that you write poetry. Are you still writing poems?
Yes, I am still doing this. I already have a lot of poems but I’ve stopped publishing them. There is certainly an idea to publish a book but it will probably happen in the future. It is like painting – you can take a year off and then write for a whole week.
Leyla khanum, you are always fit. Are you sporty?
I am probably too sporty (smiles). Sport makes you feel better both physically and spiritually. Therefore, I do sport every day.
I am now thinking of rock climbing. It is something new to me, very interesting, because it is associated not only with courage but also with conquering another peak.
It often occurs in life that when you begin one project, you have to follow it with others. So when I started the campaign on environmental protection, I began to think about mountain climbing. And I started to learn how to climb. This summer I am going to climb one of the national peaks along with volunteers from our environmental campaign.
Thank you for your interview!
Thank you, too, and my best regards to your readers.
Leyla, her mother Mehriban Aliyeva & sister Arzu Aliyeva