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On My Way

Back Home to the Sea



Mixed media on canvas

Working process. Artist' Studio, 2014, Baku, Azerbaijan

Photos by Rauf Askyarov

On My Way Back Home to the Sea, 2014

Installation, mixed media on canvas

400 x 1700 cm

2014 Exploring Inward, group exhibition, Buta Festival, Louise Blouin Foundation, London, UK (January 28 – February 6)

Aida Mahmudova’s body of work is aimed at retrieving the memories of her motherland and shows the eternal richness of the modest neighbourhoods of the Absheron peninsula in Azerbaijan, the countryside of her childhood. It depicts the intensity of a lucid dream of remembering, almost a hallucination. “My art is a constant and continued investigation of my memory, as it informs my identity”, says the artist. Her artwork resembles the landscape of the unconscious mind, demonstrating a chaotic combination of those vague images of one’s past, a chronicle of the memories that have been locked away, the flashbacks that haunt us all.


A 17-metre-long unframed canvas, entitled On the Way Home, by the Sea, the biggest artwork created by Mahmudova, depicts the Caspian Sea and its shores, as she remembers it. This monumental piece delivers the artist’s longing for her memory of the sea, the feelings it awoke back then when looking at it, rather than just the sea itself. The image of the sea was an integral part of her childhood, as she passed along its shores on her daily journey home. The Absheron peninsula is embraced by the waves of the Caspian Sea, and throughout history, Azerbaijani artists have always been influenced by its magical and mysterious views.  These views, sometimes restless, sometimes calming, left an indelible impression on Mahmudova as a little girl. She remembers the sea as it appeared to her then, powerful and awe-inspiring in its enormity.


The vulnerability of the emotionally painted seascape, accomplished through a dreamlike soft colour scheme and expressive application of acrylic paint executed with a bold impasto, shows the sensitive and delicate nature of the artist herself. By exploring and investigating her memories, Mahmudova unveils her deepest recollections creating a work that resembles the mysterious and irrational workings of the unconscious mind. The work’s overwhelming entity only emphasises that surreal and silent space, which has no angles or landmarks, just like Mahmudova’s painting, which leads one to experience a sense of disorientation first and then hits you with a wave of nostalgia. Her monumental work is more than just a pictorial representation of the sea. Somehow, the process of watching this massive landscape is a mirror experiment, where one experiences looking at the reflection of one’s own memories.


(From Exploring Inward exhibition catalogue, 2014)

On My Way Back Home to the Sea, 2014

Mixed media on canvas

388 x 929 cm

2015 Making Histories, group exhibition, YARAT Permanent Collection, YARAT Centre, Baku, Azerbaijan (March 24 – February 21)

Aida Mahmudova's epic seascape overlooks the Caspian Sea, remaining in constant conversation with the dominant element of the YARAT Centre’s environment. The canvas, executed in mixed media, is evocative of the artists home, which can be, like the Sea itself, both welcoming and hostile.


Aida Mahmudova's On My Way Back Home to the Sea is a mixed media seascape portraying the shores of Caspian Sea. The canvas recollects the artist's childhood memories of admiring the potency and enormity of the sea that is translated through the impressive scale of the work. The painting depicts the duality of the native landscape conveying its nurturing yet destructive potential.


(From Making Histories exhibition catalogue, 2015)

On My Way Back Home to the Sea, 2014

Mixed media on canvas

388 x 550 cm

2015 Vita Vitale, group exhibition by IDEA, Azerbaijan Pavilion, 56th Biennale Arte, Ca’ Garzoni, San Marco, Venice, Italy (May 9 – November 22)

Aida Mahmudova’s specially commissioned wall painting and installation bring her childhood memories of Azerbaijan’s Absheron peninsula to Venice in her largest work to date. On My Way Back Home to the Sea’s immense scale reenacts the sense of awe the young Mahmudova felt before the Caspian Sea’s potency and enormity, an impression still embedded in her memory. However, its location within a Vita Vitale gallery filled with allusions to ice and water provokes another reading of the artist’s imagery. Within this setting, the Caspian Sea’s foamy waters evoke the field of melting ice floating in a dangerously warming Arctic Ocean, an image reinforced by an installation of resin ice blocks on the floor.


(From Vita Vitale exhibition catalogue, 2015)

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