On Dec. 4 the Moscow Museum of Modern Art
opens Aidan Salakhova's largest‐ever exhibition of artworks, some of which were shown at the Azerbaijan Pavilion during the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. The remainder were created in the past 3 years and not yet seen in public.
This is Aidan's first personal exhibition since 2009, and it will display more than 50 works grouped into three thematic constellations: The Body, The Hands, and The Objects. Aidan uses a wide range of techniques and material such as drawings, paintings, marble sculpture, and video.
Known for challenging portrayals of veiled female figures and references to religious and traditional symbolism that deconstruct the desires of the patriarchal order, Aidan explores the complex and enigmatic identity of women today. She invites the viewer to analyze and solve the codes of the patriarchal subconscious and neurosis. These codes are astonishingly similar in all cultures from the past to the present.
The veil, which signifies the religious and social identity of women in different cultures since Antiquity, has been the leading metaphor in Aidan's recent work. By depicting the veil as a stereotype of Orientalism, she addresses political, social, psychological and spiritual dimensions in both the Islamic and Orthodox worlds. Aidan uses an archaic poetic visual language that relates to Islamic miniatures and Byzantine icons, and challenges the viewer through the covered or uncovered women.
Aidan's intention is to open discussion on several themes. These include: 1) todays disputes about applications of the veil as a sign or a political tool; 2) enlightened or chauvinistic opinions on female identity; 3) the conscious or subconscious of male hegemony; 4) these signifiers (the body, the hands, the objects) as a means to scrutinize and to question the systems that manipulate and exploit the female body as an object of voyeurism, pleasure and narcissism.
The marble teardrops, the most minimalist piece in her work, refer to the sensitivity, grief and joy of female identity. In the drawing, painting and relief series Aidan leads our gaze to the hands, the only visible body parts other than the face under the hijab. The smooth white hands with exquisite stirring gestures reflect the spirit and intelligence of the women more than their face, and that is exactly what Aidan intends.
Since the late 1980s Aidan Salakhova has been one of the strongest influences on the development of contemporary art in Russia. Working for over 20 years simultaneously as both an artist and gallerist, Ms Salakhova helped forge a new contemporary art aesthetic in a country that previously had none.
She was co-founder of First Gallery in 1989, Russia's first contemporary art gallery. In 1992 she opened Aidan Gallery, which was one of the leading contemporary art galleries in Russia until it closed in May 2012.
Ms Salakhova has exhibited her artworks at major international art fairs and biennales, including twice at the Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art (1991, and 2011), and at the Second Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2007).