An exhibition featuring works of American artist Caitlin Aasen (Duet Gallery) and Azerbaijani artist Vusal Rahim (YAY Gallery) kicked off in the Duet Gallery, the U.S. on May 22.
To mark the first time these two artists have been displayed together, this exhibition creates a dialogue in between their two cultures through their approaches to abstract painting. The exhibition is co-curated by Daniel McGrath (Director of Duet Gallery in St. Louis, USA) and Lana Sokolova (Local Programmes Director, YARAT Contemporary Art Space, Baku, Azerbaijan).
Rahim is exhibiting a series of paintings that build on the highly personal style he has developed in previous work. He breaks down the recognizable features of the human figure on each canvas into abstract forms, bringing them together with fluid, broad brush-strokes and a striking color palette. The dynamic sense of movement in the works gives them a frenetic energy which Rahim controls with patterning and careful compositions.
Aasen’s paintings, exhibited alongside, provide a counterpoint to Rahim’s works. Her paper and canvas surfaces are veiled in stained rivulets, thin washes and expanses of faded color. As layer upon layer of washed-out color build to suggest seemingly natural but unrecognisable forms, her work evokes an absence. Whereas control and energy, order and dynamism are evident in Rahim’s work through the traces of the artist’s hand, Aasen’s work is mute, giving little away about its creator.
Director and co-curator Daniel McGrath explains: “I had the opportunity to meet Lana Sokolova when she was on a residency in St. Louis with CEC Arts Link last October. We discussed then the possibility of co-curating an exhibition at Duet. Lana chose Vusal Rahim’s work to be paired alongside Caitlin Aasen’s because she thought their abstract approach to painting created an interesting and thought-provoking pairing.”
Local Programmes Director at YARAT and co-curator Lana Sokolova highlights: “When I first saw Caitlin’s paintings, I remembered some abstract sketches I had seen at Vusal’s studio. I selected him to accompany Caitlin because there is a strong parallel of abstract distancing of reality in both artists’ works. Caitlin and Vusal both use bright and saturated colors and their paintings show an instinctive understanding of the emotive properties of color. As YARAT Contemporary Art Space is aiming to create dialogues between different cultures, this seems to be a good chance to move forward with our goals. Art creates a valuable opportunity to make connections between the young artists of Azerbaijan and the Unites States.”
The exhibition will last till July 17.
Rahim received his artistic education from the Azerbaijan State Academy of Art. He is represented by YAY Gallery and has exhibited nationally and internationally. He held a solo show entitled Black Woman at YAY Gallery in Baku and his group exhibitions include: BACARART Project, Azerbaijan; Home Sweet Home, Azerbaijani Cultural Center, Paris; The Circle of Peace, Writers House of Georgia, Tbilisi, Georgia; Commonist, YARAT Contemporary Art Centre in Baku, IV International Symposium on Turkic Culture, Art and Cultural Heritage, Milan, Italy; Iz (‘Trace’), Azerbaijan National Museum of History in Baku.
Aasen received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in Painting at Washington University in St. Louis. This is her first multiple-artist exhibition.