Ashraf Murad’s exhibition in Baku

On March 15, in the Museum of Painting of Azerbaijan of the XX-XXI centuries, the exhibition of the artist-nonconformist Ashraf Murad “Love and Protest” had opened. It was organized with the assistance of YARAT Contemporary Art Center.

The exhibition features a little more than forty works of the artist (painter); almost half of them belongs to the Nar gallery, owned by Farkhad Akhmedov – famous Russian businessperson of Azerbaijani origin, philanthropist and art collector. Notably, Farkhad Akhmedov with the great art collection of more than twenty Azerbaijani artists of different directions and generations treats warmly the works of Ashraf Murad. About 130 his works are kept carefully in his gallery. Moreover, literally he saved a lot of them from destruction in Baku workshops.

What do we know about the life and work of Ashraf Murad (1925-1979), most famous Azerbaijan artists of the twentieth century? His invaluable contribution to the development of art became a real source of inspiration for the next generations of artists.

In general, the fate of Ashraf Murad was very unusual. He was the first owner of a Mercedes in Baku, he loved fast driving, and adored jazz and even had a haircut as the style of this music. At the late 1950s, famous artists of the time – golden youth –stuffed into his car and drove around the old Baku streets. Young people were celebrating the triumph of youth on these ancient streets and constituted a symbol of happiness and carelessness.

Ashraf stood out for beauty, talent, noble birth. When he appeared on the street, everyone looked at his tall slim figure. In addition, such was the strength of his charisma; there was so much inner light in him that a train of admiring glances constantly dragged behind him. All girls were in love with Ashraf. He loved only one woman – Sevil.

By the way, among the works of interest caused a letter to the beloved – Sevil. “I can’t speak expressively, I can’t write, I want to tell you so much, but my tongue is my enemy. My heart beats and my mouth is silent, I cannot find the right words to express even a small part of my feelings. Oh, Sevil! Understand me, forgive me, and listen to me. I am not good in Russian yet. But all the innermost dreams of a bold youth, all the noble impulses of a young heart, all the sufferings of a loving soul that are so close and familiar to everyone, all they are close to me. However, is it familiar to you, Sevil? ” This is an excerpt from a letter, which in due time was accidentally discovered by art critic and writer Sarah Nazirova.

It is interesting that, Ashraf Murad lived homeless all his life. His home and place of work was a small workshop in the Baku Builders Avenue. He received orders most of all, including government orders with historical subjects, and he could become a very rich person. However, he chose a different path and was considered a disgraced artist. The creativity of Ashraf Murad contradicted the Soviet ideology. The artist was persecuted, arrested, but even after long talks, beatings and tortures with of him, he didn’t leave his own way and went higher and higher up the artistic ladder. For a long time nobody wants to understand him. He was an amazing artist, looking at the world with different sight.

The first personal exhibition of Ashraf Murad had opened only after his death – in 1984, in his native Baku. Then everyone was amazed at the enormous size of the canvas of this unique master of the brush – at that time it was a real fantasy…The creativity of Ashraf Murad and the perfection of his coloring was matched only by the colors of our ancient carpets and tirme. The national character of Ashraf’s art was formed on basis of Azerbaijani folklore. This can be clearly seen in the pictures “Father and Son”, “Musicians”, “Horse”. Moreover, to recreate the image of historical figures – Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin in work “Teheran Conference” (by the way, from the collection of the same Farkhad Akhmedov) the artist uses the style of monumental painting. The characters are highlighted, like actors on stage.

There is an eternal contest of Light and Darkness, Good and Evil in his soul as in his images. That is why; his characters are associated and concentrated in themselves.  There is something metaphysical in their eyes and artist caught it and captured for a moment. The plastic language of his arts and exact compositional decisions, distorted figures of the characters and a dark palette enhances this sensation. Power, strong personality and tyranny – these are the leitmotivs of the formation of characters, which the master creates. Ashraf Murad’s art follows-up his sorrowful destiny, and his imagination is the result of a confused and loaded mind. His mind pulls us behind the mirror, into the magical world with its distorted objects and unusual colors, which rebel against the conventional color perception…

We note that the exhibition is presented until June 16, so that residents and guests of the capital have enough time to get acquainted with the work of this bright and unfortunately, undervalued artist in his time.

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