Coffee, Conversation, 1001 Skewers and Bird #1
Azerbaijani artist Farid Rasulov and Curator Dana Turkovic sat comfortably at one end of the Aronson Fine Arts Center to discuss Farid’s 1,001 Skewers (in the gallery space) and the artist’s Bird #1 abstract installation (outdoors in the Northern Grove) at Laumeier Sculpture Park. Dana has an easy interview style that allows the artist many opportunities to embellish his motivation for creating the composition of 1,001 skewers. Farid draws attention to 75 skewers arranged on one wall and the invitation to add a sort of social media conversation. He notes another wall and a gallery space installation that is reminiscent of a DNA strain. He has taken advantage of the height of the wall to the west to create a tree composed entirely of skewers. The remaining wall, as one guest suggests, may have a calculated mathematical significance.
Farid is soft spoken and not at all boastful or arrogant in spite of a long list of artistic accomplishments. He represented Azerbaijan at the 53rd Venice Biennale. His work includes large scale paintings, installations, 3D graphics, animation and sculpture. Dana invited the artist to comment on his training in medicine. His response in a measured tone is a statement that an artist does not need to go to school to learn art. He adds, matter of factly, that an artist can learn a great deal from the study of medicine as he has. (This notion gets a polite laugh from patrons seated in the gallery.) A local artist employed by Kiku Obata & Company Design Consultancy defends the formal artist training. (This is a comment from an man originally from Baku, Azerbaijan himself).
Farid’s Bird #1 sculpture was inspired by a graphic representation of an abstract and angular bird design he wondered about in a carpet from his native country perhaps while working in Baku. Now he is part of this exhibition and the outdoor installation in Saint Louis which is the continuation of an exploration series of works from emerging national economies around the globe.
Azerbaijan, the nation and former Soviet republic, is bounded by the Caspian Sea and Caucasus Mountains, which span Asia and Europe. Its capital, Baku, is famed for its medieval walled Inner City. Within the Inner City lies the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, a royal retreat dating to the 15th century, and the centuries-old stone Maiden Tower, which dominates the city skyline.