The first solo exhibition of emerging artist Ramal Kazimov opens in November 2012 in the newly-established non-for-profit YAY Gallery. The objects included in the exhibition engage in a tenacious investigation of the human body, thus visually expanding the discourse on figuration in contemporary art.
Kazimov’s expressively realist figures immediately and bluntly address tabooed imagery and issues in Azerbaijan. Using strategies of shock and provocation, the compositions generate the ‘presence’ of the models through both pose and a sinuous and expressive painting technique. Stylistically echoing the works of Francis Bacon and Edvard Munch, Kazimov’s compositions frankly compose a visual diary of human experience through keen observation and an excessive curiosity. The figures are representative of an experimental portraiture that lives on the border between figuration and abstraction.
With startling acuity, the compositions balance qualities of violence and tenderness that instills in viewers a sense of both shock and awe. Images combine broken bottle fragments, violent gestures, and contorted faces that twist in pain and passion. Overt nudity is purposefully de-eroticized and one is forced to confront the realities of the flesh - its texture, faults, and frailties.
The sense of provocation and aggression that is an element in the artworks is, interestingly, antithetical to the artist’s personal qualities. Kazimov staunchly supports forms of humanism and denounces injustice. However, with patience, gentleness, and a refined stylistic eye, Kazimov’s works such as “Abstinence” and “Abandoned” simultaneously address social issues and imbue the figures with a degree of sympathy and compassion.
The sculptural composition, “Stratification”, consisting of six interlacing bodies, functions as the fulcrum of the exhibition. The piece is an elegy to the gradual stratification of society. It shows the effects of a social and economic turn that has left some prosperous and others destitute, some strong and others weak, and some as healthy members of society while others are cast out as social pariahs. The innumerable pressures and policies that have divided humanity into social groups and class strata is the founding concept of the piece. Nonetheless, it is the viewer’s unique value system and personal experience that will ultimately determine the meaning of the work.