Summer 2003 (11.2)
Artists in the Loft
Best Kept Secrets - Azerbaijani Artists
by Betty Blair
Left: Entrance to the Loft at 500 Istiglaliyyat
across from Baksovet Metro Station.
It's of the best-kept
secrets in Azerbaijan. Don't tell. But one of the best souvenirs
you can carry back from Baku is artwork - paintings, graphic
arts and sculpture. You'll find some incredible works that will
bring you great pleasure for years to come!
There are a very few commercial galleries in the center of Baku
or even in the Old City. Many Azerbaijanis are still feeling
the economic pressure of the collapse of the Soviet Union so
art is still viewed as a luxury, often beyond reach. But don't
let the lack of galleries fool you into thinking that there's
not much art available.
To catch a glimpse of the quality of art that you can find in
Azerbaijan, visit AZgallery.org - a Web site that Azerbaijan
International Magazine launched in 1999 to help Azerbaijani artists
get more exposure in the international arena. More than 160 artists
and 3,000 works of art are featured.
To really get to know Azerbaijani artists, go visit them in their
studios and lofts. You'll find some of the best artists working
on the top floors of old apartment buildings. We guarantee it's
well worth the climb.
In the pages that follow, we've introduced
six artists who are conveniently housed under one roof right
in the middle of town. We consider all of them very distinct
and each worthy of international recognition.
You'll find them in The Loft (6th Floor) at Istiglaliyyat (Parliament)
Avenue, directly across the street from Baksovet Metro Station,
The building where "The Loft" is housed is part of
the legacy of the Pre-Soviet oil boom. Musa Naghiyev (1849-1919),
the richest of all oil barons built it. His descendents claim
that he built 98 building throughout the city. You can often
identify his buildings by the monogram "MH" (Russian
letters for his name) on the façade, usually above the
The artists here request that you please respect their privacy
by contacting them for appointments. A telephone call can save
you considerable time disappointment in case they're not there
when you get the urge to visit them.
To find these studios, take the elevator as high as it will go
- to the fifth floor. Exit and climb the spiral staircase on
your left, then enter the low-ceilinged hallway to the left.
Studios are identified by numbers, not names.
We hope, for many of you, that this is the beginning of a wonderful
journey into the "Little Known World of Azerbaijan Art!"
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