Azerbaijan International

Winter 2001 (9.4)
Pages 16-17

Cover: Tower of Babel
The Artist Talks About the Cover
by Hamza Abdullayev

Hamza Abdullayev
I've always been interested in ancient cultures as depicted in the ancient monuments of Egypt, Sumer and Babylonia. For a long time I was trying to think how to paint some of the ancient legends, myths of these ancient cultures. I didn't quite know how to do it. Then, quite by chance in the summer of 1998, my sons were building a sand tower down at the beach at Mardakan, not far from Baku. As soon as I saw it, the concept of abandoned towns rising from the earth, ancient towers, and people came to life as if they were real. In a very short time, I finished painting four fairly large-sized canvases on this theme.

"The Tower of Babel" is one of them. According to this legend from the Bible, arrogant people began constructing a huge tower that they wanted to reach to heaven. But God confounded their language so that they were not able to understand one another. Consequently, work on the Tower was stopped and the people were scattered to different parts of the earth. The construction of the Tower was never finished...

"Trapped in the Web of the Past" by Hamza Abdullayev

Above: "Trapped in the Web of the Past" by Hamza Abdullayev, oil on canvas, 120 x 89 cm, 1999.

"From Where to Where," by Hamza Abdullayev

Above: "From Where to Where," by Hamza Abdullayev, oil on canvas, 85 x 64 cm, 1999

It wasn't difficult for me to bring this legendary tower to life on canvas. There are many ancient towers and minarets that "reach the sky" in my lovely Absheron peninsula. In fact, somehow my Tower of Babel looks like the medieval tower in Mardakan, and the fortress walls remind me of the Inner City [Ichari Shahar] in Baku.

I think that the legend of the Tower of Babel dramatically symbolizes one of the major problems that we face today. Do people think so differently today than they did back then? The savage actions, ethnic wars and terrorist acts that have taken place within this past decade and even within the past few months, are they not vivid examples of people's arrogance, misplaced pride and fanaticism?
"Whirlwind of the Century," by Hamza Abdullayev  Cover of Azerbaijan International magazine, Winter 2001 (AI 9.4), by Hamza Abdullayev

Left: "Whirlwind of the Century," by Hamza Abdullayev, oil on canvas, 90 x 79 cm, 1999
Right: Cover of Azerbaijan International magazine, Winter 2001 (AI 9.4), by Hamza Abdullayev

An artist cannot change the world, but he can speak of universal truths through the medium of his paints and brushes and, thereby, help cultures meet each other across territorial boundaries and across the ages of time.

Note: An
interview with Hamza is featured alongside some of his vividly colored art works in our Summer 1999 issue, "Colors of the Century", AI 7.2. SEARCH at Additional samples of his work can be viewed at Contact Hamza at his studio: (994-12) 75-37-17, or home: (994-12) 95-67-15.

Azerbaijan International (9.4) Winter 2001.
© Azerbaijan International 2002. All rights reserved.

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