Maryam Alakbarli: A Young Master

David Barnett Gallery
Feb 27, 2019 7:47PM

Maryam Alakbarli, just 27 years old, is one of the most exciting up-and-coming artists working today.

Maryam Alakbarli in her studio in 2015, image courtesy Photo: AFP/La Croix

Maryam Alakbarli was born July 4, 1991 in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea. Like many artists, Maryam Alakbarli moved to Paris to feed her burgeoning art career. Like many artists, Maryam uses her paintings to communicate her emotions and thoughts. Unlike most artists, though, Maryam is 95% nonverbal: Maryam lives with Down syndrome. The arts have been her way of communicating since a young age, and she communicates beautifully.

Maryam Alakbarli with some of her paintings, image courtesy

Since she was a child, Maryam’s supportive family have found ways for her to express her feelings—first through dance and singing and then through painting. Maryam has spent the past four years studying in the art schools and art museums in Paris. Here she has learned about other modernist masters, but she has a distinctly self-driven style. Her paintings are her individual perception of the world. “Everyone at her arts school loves her,” one of her teachers professed. “We love her smile, her joie de vivre. And her happiness is reflected in her paintings—the nudes, the flowers, the birds. Maryam has a personal vision of things around her. We don’t want to change her.” Maryam’s natural intuition for color and technique is something many artists spend decades trying to perfect.

Maryam’s paintings re-interpret classical subjects: the still life, the landscape, the nude figure, the portrait. The paintings in this show are some of the most masterful she has completed in the past five years. “Fleurs pour Mademoiselle” demonstrates Maryam’s exquisite handling of the figure—much like Pablo Picasso’s or Henri Matisse’s intuitive techniques.

Her landscapes, “Humeur de Printemps” and “Plage au Jour Venteux,” showcase her highly successful experimentation with color, much like the French Fauvist artists like Andre Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck.

The delicacy and variation of brush strokes in “Arbre de Vie” recall the intricate decoration and patterns of Gustav Klimt’s golden oil paintings.

“Roses du Jardin de Maman” and “Nature Morte & Cruche Blanche,” the still life paintings, recall Cezanne’s experimentation with color, placement, and perspective. It is clear that Alakbarli has mastered her unique vision and modernist technique.

Maryam has shown her work internationally and has caught the eye of many art collectors around the world. Her first sale came in October 2016 and since then she has sold 24 paintings, including John Travolta, Steven Soderbergh, Juliette Binoche and Michael Douglas. Actress Juliette Binoche has said, “If some talk of art as therapy for Maryam, I would say it is she who is healing us. Maryam is a young artist of great promise.” Gerard Depardieu, also a respected French art collector, was moved by her work, and placed her canvas between a Sam Francis and a Pablo Picasso in his living room.

David Barnett was incredibly moved by the purity of communication found from this artist who is 95% nonverbal. The David Barnett Gallery is proud to present these works to Milwaukee. We look forward to seeing how this talented artist grows.

David Barnett Gallery