Central Asia Art Month Residency & Exhibition


Alif Art Gallery (Dubai) and Abu Dhabi Art Hub are proud to announce the launch of their new joint project – “2015 October residency program” which is dedicated to artists from Central Asia. The residency program at Art Hub will provide the artists from Central Asia with an exclusive opportunity to pursue new ideas free from every day pressures, to advance their work or create a new body of work based on their new visual experiences in the UAE and to have a venue to showcase those results at final exhibition on October 31, 2015. The aim of the project running from October 4th – November 2nd, 2015 is to shed more light on the exceptionally vibrant contemporary art scene in the Central Asia and to bring to audiences in UAE a handful of artists that are the strongest representatives of Central Asia art.


There is a growing interest in UAE towards Central Asia region that might be motivated by a cultural and historic context. Central Asia has a clear cultural connection to the Middle East, through the legendary Silk Road and shared Islamic traditions. Cities such as Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva have played an important role in Islamic history. Significant historical figures such as Omar Khayyam, Ibn Sina, scholars Bukhari and Tirmidhi, algebra (all of whom have impacted Arab and Muslim culture).


Art Hub is a contemporary art organization in Abu Dhabi that hosts monthly residencies since 2012. Art Hub has a mission “to provide live/work studios to artists from across the Globe and to serve as a platform for connecting national and international artists to the emirate.” Each residency culminates in an exhibition.


Alif Art Gallery is a contemporary art gallery, focusing on Central Asian art. The gallery’s mission is to develop understanding of the breadth of Central Asia’s contemporary visual arts in the Middle East and beyond. Alif Art Gallery has a goal to promote the understanding of rich Central Asian culture and reflect the region’s long-­‐standing heritage.


2015 October residency program for Central Asia artists continues the collaboration between Art Hub and Alif Art Gallery started in April 2015 when two organizations worked together on joint exhibition Pointers to Memory: Tales of then and now curated by I.Y. Bourmistrova. This was the first creative collaboration between Alif Gallery and Art Hub (Abu Dhabi). At the heart of the exhibition was the juxtaposition of works by Alexander Nikolaev (Alif Art Gallery) and Iranian artist Nasser Palangi (Art Hub, Abu Dhabi). The exhibition was unveiled during the Art Week to coincide with the 2015th edition of Dubai Art Fair. Pointers to memory exhibition explored the possibilities of alternative narratives in the visual culture of today and summarized several approaches in art inspired by folk traditions and narrative techniques that challenged categorization’s based on material, perceptions of decorative or locale.


Participating artists for 2015 October residency at Art Hub include Djamol Usmanov, Dilyara Kaipova, Alexander Nikolaev, Murad Karabaev, Sanjar Djabbarov, Timur Ernst Akhmedov. The group of artists for this edition is mixed, some of them are well known in their own country and some of them are still emerging. The common denominator for all artists lays in their interest to combine the ancient traditions of Central Asia with modern vision. The pendulum of the themes found in their art works swings from mystical narratives to new takes on Pop Art.


Jamol Usmanov (b. 1961) – made his international breakthrough in 2013 at Sotheby’s first selling exhibition At The Crossroads, Contemporary Art from Central Asia in London. Dreams are a recurrent theme in Jamol Usmanov’s oeuvre. Inspired by the Eastern medieval poetry of Rumi, Navoi, Nizami and others, Usmanov’s oeuvre is filled with references to Sufi philosophy. Usmanov’s paintings are a reflection of the artist’s conception of one’s own spiritual journey. Imbued with harmony of form and colour, they exude a feeling of tranquility. The artist masterfully employs concealed messages in order to communicate his own particular worldview.


Alexander Nikolaev (b. 1968) – is a well known artist in his native Uzbekistan where he works across a range of media and techniques including painting, installation, video as well as textile collages. Artist’s collages titled World of Kind People were presented in 2012 at the Central Asian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The colorful artworks fit into a paradigm of appropriated naïve art and can be described as ‘bas-­‐relief made of cloth.’ Each collage narrates a snapshot of a life of that is real and unreal at the same time. There is penchant for humor through the depiction of clothing, cell phones and other ethnographic details. The image is frozen, locked up in a jadval – like setting and crafted with ribbons, glitter, rhinestones and other accessories.


Murad Karabaev (b. 1963) – is not new to UAE, he had a chance to exhibit his work Two faces at prestigious international art fair Art Dubai 2014 in Marker’s curated exhibition that looked at ‘notions of identity and faith’. A year earlier in 2013 his painting Circles of the willow down. Temptation was exhibited to a great acclaim from the specialists and art connoisseurs at Sotheby’s exhibition At The Crossroads in London. His images are myth – laden with inward Sufi calm. The artist’s credo in his own words is ‘to use the mirror effect in order to look beyond the appearances and inside the human soul that carries fragments of those who came before us.’


Dilyara Kaipova (b. 1967) – came to contemporary art from puppetry. From 2013 to 2015, Dilyara Kaipova worked as the Art Director and Master of hand puppets at the State Institute of Arts in Uzbekistan, therefore it is not surprising that puppets of all sorts are a prominent feature in her art works. D. Kaipova’s favorite art medium is soft pastels. Dilyara’s subjects come straight from her imagination, and her subject matter can be simultaneously hilarious and scarifying. Her imagery of invented characters that look like ‘freaks’ or little monsters is artist’s chosen motifs to comment on the hopeless and ridiculous aspects of human existence. She fills her world with ‘puppet Lolitas’ where their expressions conceal and reveal purity and decay, cuteness and ugliness.


Sanjar Djabbarov (b. 1986) – youngest in the residency group of artists His works hover somewhere between representation and abstraction. Sanjar concerns more to construct a discernible arrangement of forms than build a narrative. He obliterates faces, blurs lines, and can best be described as a dreamy mixture of contemporary iconology. He has interest in hidden, intimate and secret places, but also in their opposites, which materialize as wide, open and far away horizons.


Timur Ernst Ahmedov (b. 1968) – is best known in his own country and abroad for his highly decorative paintings where he brings together the pictorial narrative based on the synthesis of visual culture with the philosophy and poetry. He creates memorable and metaphorical images rooted in the iconic imagery of his cultural inheritance. In his art Timur addresses love and female beauty through the lenses of oriental mannerisms that are full of stylistic tricks and decorative embellishments, where the combination of Asian turquoise, warm ochre and cold red creates the space of the special musicality and meditative state.