What: Aidan Salakhova: Revelations
When: 13th January - 28th February 2016
Where: Saatchi Gallery, Duke Of York's HQ, King's Road, London, SW3 4RY
Why you should go:
Aidan Salakhova is an Azeri and Russian artist based in Moscow and Carrara, Italy, who works in sculpture, painting, drawing and video. Revelations curated by Jenny Christensson will bring together new work, alongside works exhibited at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art in 2012.
The veiled figure is the protagonist in Salakhova's enigmatic, often playfully erotic, narrative cycles, which contain references to traditional and religious symbols and which set out to deconstruct and challenge the patriarchal order. In this body of work the artist recreates the sealed-off feminine intimacy of the harem and appears to celebrate female hegemony and self-sufficiency. Revelations opens with two rooms dedicated to this earlier series.
The second half of the exhibition showcases new work, including a provocative video installation exploring the erotic potential of the veil, the archetype of the dominatrix and the fantasy of female domination and male submission. In her new sculptural work Salakhova moves away from the veiled figure and returns to the human form with representations of both the female and male nude; these are rendered in granite or marble following the techniques and principles of classical sculpture, but the artist proposes new juxtapositions of male and female that subvert tradition and propose alternative terms of engagement.
Salakhova's work reveals the influence of multiple artistic traditions, reflecting her academy training in Soviet Moscow in the 1980s, her subsequent exposure both to western art history and to contemporary western artists and her own personal investigations into the art and craft of her Azerbaijani and Uzbekistani heritage. In her practice she deconstructs prevailing artistic categorisations, eliding oriental and occidental, Islamic and Byzantine, non-figurative and figurative, ancient and modern. As much of her oeuvre sets out to question and reconsider inherited ideas, particularly as they relate to women and their role in society, her approach in deploying traditional artistic practices frequently involves identifying characteristic elements and reinterpreting them to convey her individual, progressive vision.
Aidan Salakhova was born in Moscow in 1964 to the family of the prominent Azeri and Russian artist Tair Salakhov. She graduated in 1987 from the Moscow State Surikov Institute of Fine Arts, where she now holds the position of professor. Having worked for over twenty years as both an artist and a gallerist she has been one of the strongest influences on the development of contemporary art in post-Soviet Russia.
Salakhova has exhibited her work at major international art fairs and biennales, including twice at the Venice Biennale (1991 and 2011) and at the Second Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2007).