Azerbaijan International

Winter 1999 (7.4)
Page 10

Reader's Forum
German and Azeri Artists Team Up

Your Summer 1999 issue dedicated to Azerbaijan's art [AI 7.2] reminded us of our assignment in Baku [1994-1997] where we discovered some of Azerbaijan's finest artists. We have just moved from Bonn to Berlin which was declared Germany's new capital in March this year. Nearly all government agencies and their employees have had to move, so there has been a mass exodus to the old city.

Azeri artist Rashid IsmayilPhoto: May in the Westerwald by Rashid Ismayil

Michael is still responsible for North America and the G8 but occasionally, he is called upon to use his knowledge of Azerbaijan. After investing so much energy in such an assignment, it would be impossible to just leave and forget it - at least for us.

We packed three quarters of our belongings and put them in storage because our new apartment is far too small, but we managed to bring all of our Azerbaijan International magazines along. I never really seem to finish any of them; they are so full.
I wanted to let your readers know about the artists' cooperative "Birlikda" of German and Azeri artists. "Birlikda" means "together". It all began when Ulla Windheuser - Schwarz from Linz, Germany went to Soviet Azerbaijan in 1989 to attend the International Artists' Symposium in Baku. There she met artist Rashid Ismayil. Ten years and numerous exhibitions later, Birlikda represents a group of six artists whose works encompass practically every artistic medium - painting, sculpture, graphics and ceramics. The artists include Husein Hagverdiyev, Rafael Muradli, Saida Hagverdiyeva, Rashid, his son Hikmat - all from Azerbaijan - and Ulla.

Beginning in 1991, these artists have staged several cultural exchanges each year both in Germany and Azerbaijan. Exhibitions are now regular occurrences throughout Germany and come with dolmas, lavash and Azeri wine. In 1996, the exhibition in Baku drew some 200 guests to the beautiful second - floor library of the Nizami Museum.

It's sometimes hard to decide which level-personal or professional - of their collaboration has been the most fruitful, so complex is the artistic symbiosis between these artists. Certainly the lives of all of them have changed during the past ten years, as they've learned from each other and from exposure to the great museums of Europe and to the deep, often hidden traditions of Azerbaijan.

The latest Birlikda Exhibition opened in Koblenz, Germany on September 24, 1999, precisely the date of that fortunate meeting ten years ago in Baku. One can only look forward to their next ten years - together!

Maryann Schmunk
Wife of Michael Schmunk, German Ambassador to Baku, 1994-1997
Berlin, Germany

Editor: AZgallery features more than 1,000 art works created by nearly 100 Azeri artists including those of Birlikda. The Web site is a free venue for Azerbaijani artists and was designed and produced by Azerbaijan International magazine. It enables art lovers all over the world to contact the artists directly via telephone or e-mail. Check out the "Featured Artist of the Week" at AZgallery.ORG.

Azerbaijan International (7.4) Winter 1999.
© Azerbaijan International 1999. All rights reserved.

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