Qurban Olum

YARAT Contemporary Art Space is pleased to present Qurban Olum, a solo show of newly-commissioned sculptures, paintings and film from the Baku-based Azerbaijani artist Farid Rasulov, running 18 March – 15 June 2020. As a founding artist of YARAT, Rasulov returns to the space with an exploration of the sacrificial holiday “Qurban Bayram”. Questioning the greed and excess that the festival has inadvertently come to symbolise, the artist employs a twist of absurdism, satire and the grotesque to prompt the reconsideration of ancient practice in our constantly evolving modern age.

Having previously represented Azerbaijan in the 53rd and 55th Venice Biennales, Rasulov is well-known for his works exploring both Azerbaijani and wider oriental traditions. The artist works across various mediums – including painting, installation, animation, sculpture and 3D graphics – and takes inspiration from folk crafts or rituals, reflecting on the validity of the ideals inherent in these traditions which remain unchanged for centuries.

At YARAT, Rasulov takes Qurban Bayram as the departure point for his show – a major Islamic holiday that entails the slaughter of an animal in a ‘festival of sacrifice’. Symbolic of Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience of God, the animal was traditionally shared between relatives, the home, and those in need. However, in recent times this offering has developed into an indicator of status and wealth. In his new film Yuxularin Yuxusu (Dream of Dreams), Rasulov creates a dramatic, comedic narrative set within a hospital room. Two doctors can be seen talking whilst dissecting a clothed sheep for the festival, in which they intermingle an abundance of jewellery with its entrails; at once darkly humorous and ironic, the scene highlights the absurd materiality that has come to be associated with the event.

Rasulov further expands upon this film in the form of an installation. Various props, such as clothing, gold trinkets and medical equipment, are positioned on and around an operating table. Here, the viewer is once again confronted with this surreal and grotesque scenario. Other works also see the artist dissect typical customs from a subversive, witty viewpoint; for example, taking a style of kebab-skewer that is common in Baku, Rasulov forms a large-scale, geometric installation which occupies one of the gallery walls. In repurposing common objects and narratives, the artist encourages the re-evaluation of tradition in light of contemporary realities.

Completing the exhibition, Rasulov presents a selection of new, large-scale paintings. Taking an illustrative approach, the works depict a carnivalesque Qurban Bayram. A crowd can be seen gathered around the sacrificial sheep during the traditional ceremony, as suited figures behead the animal; satirizing the scene by caricaturising each person, the artist highlights the surrealist elements of this sacred festival. 

This exhibition is curated by Suad Garayeva-Maleki.

About the Artist 

Farid Rasulov (b. 1985, Shusha, Azerbaijan) lives and works in Baku. A doctor by training – he studied at the Azerbaijan State Medical University (2006). Rasulov changed fields to pursue an artistic career, subsequently representing Azerbaijan in the 53rd and 55th Venice Biennales. He has been the subject of solo exhibitions internationally and across the region, including: 1001 Skewers, St.Louis, Laumiere Sculptural Park, MO, USA (2018); #ONLYONECHANCE, MoMA, Baku (2015); and Dogs in the Living Room, Rabouan Moussion Gallery, Paris, France (2014). His work has been included in the Moscow Young Biennale of Contemporary Art (2016); Teesside World Exposition of Art and Technology, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (2016) and Sharjah Islamic Art Festival (2013). In 2016 he was awarded the ArteLagunaPrize 10 for the Sculptural and Installation Section.