A Night at the Museum by the Caspian Sea

I love discovering art when I travel and am always open to exploring something off the beaten path. I had not heard about this exhibit until I was already in Baku.

When telling the taxi driver where to go, I began to appreciate that this was not a regular tourist attraction. The driver was unfamiliar with the non-profit arts organization hosting the exhibit. My Russian language skills were not nearly good enough to have been of much help, but the patient and persistent driver kept stopping to ask people until he found it (and then graciously waited for us to finish and return us safely to the hotel afterwards). It was all well worth the effort!

This is an exhibition of Azerbaijani painters who were trained under the watchful eyes of the Soviet art education machine yet found themselves overly strained and constricted by its limitations of acceptable art expression. After the death of Stalin in 1953, they were able to embrace their own history and heritage. They were also exposed to the greater art world around them, especially in Western Europe.

This produced an exhibit that is a feast for the eyes. I have done further research on some of the artists and paintings. Please enjoy these selected works taken from my afternoon of viewing.

Labour, Leisure & Dreams – 1960S-1980s Through the Eyes of Azerbaijani Masters

The Crying Sea — Nadir Gasimov (1928-2000), Oil on Canvas, 1976

Nadir Gasimov began his career painting portraits, but eventually became know for his powerful industrial marine seascapes. He was one of the first to explore the element of water through the prism of industrialization.

Marine Monuments of the Caspian Sea — Nadir Gasimov (1928-2000), Oil on Canvas, 1980

From the art gallery exhibition card next to these paintings: “he depicted the image of the sublime and nature to show the fragility of human nature,” and that this “raised attention to the hard labor and difficult lifestyle on the Oil Rocks.”

The Oil Rocks was the first offshore oil platform in the world and it was constructed in 1949 in Azerbaijan.  It created an entire industrial settlement built on the sea.