Andakulova Gallery (Alif Art Gallery) welcomes Alexander Barkovsky, in his first Middle Eastern show
Andakulova Gallery (Alif Gallery) is pleased to present an exhibition of works by one of the most promising artists from Central Asia, Alexander Barkovsky, in Dubai, UAE, from 22 September – 22 October 2014.
Alexander Barkovsky lives in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He made his international breakthrough in 2013 at Sotheby’s, London, with his unique work Gypsy Madonna #6.Most recently in April 2014, his work Woman in Jilaq was exhibited at Sotheby’s auction of Contemporary Art from Central Asia “At The Crossroads 2“. Our exhibition will showcase the on-going art-project Mugat which takes form of visual-ethnography and documents the everyday lives, traditions and language of Mugat-Gypsies of Central Asian descent, a little known community that is also known as the Jughi, Multani or Luli.
They call themselves Mugat (Mughat), which means fire-worshipper and follow a nomadic lifestyle. The Mugat live dispersed in several regions in Central Asia and they may not be able to resist globalization and cultural homogenization for long. The identity of tribal cultures such as the Mugats’ is highly susceptible to deterioration – perhaps in a matter of a few decades. Their illiteracy results in ignorance about their historical and cultural uniqueness. The Mugat are unable to defend themselves against discrimination. Their communities live in poverty, as outsiders of society, and their isolation contributes to the disappearance of this national minority’s individuality.
Alexander Barkovsky’s art pulls out the Mugat from invisibility and brings them to the spotlight. The Mugat art project affirms the primacy of identity and attempts to preserve Mugat cultural and ethnic differences.
Barkovsky’s series of portraits “Gypsy Madonnas” fuses traditional formats and motifs with contemporary modes of representation. The artist uses Raphael’s classical paintings of Madonna and Child as inspiration and replaces the iconic image of the Holy Virgin with a Gypsy mother nursing her baby. Barkovsky masterfully borrows the language of the Renaissance painter and reframes art historical subject matter with a new demographic. His models typically wear everyday clothing, while enacting traditional roles seen in canonical portraiture such as Madonna with a child.
Like in Raphael’s paintings the figures in “Gypsy Madonnas” are tied by interlocking gestures and unified by their shared gaze to a vision of the child’s future.
Barkovsky also plays here with a notion of what is truly a ‘ classical ‘ painting, where there is no need for explanations. There is nothing strained or sophisticated in the compositions and they look as if they could not be otherwise.
Gypsy Madonna works are ornate, luminous and rich in colour like mosaics of Samarkand and Bokhara mosques. We also see patchworks of colourful fabrics on the background. All decorated surfaces embody a visual symbolism coded in them.
Mugat –Gypsy Madonnas exhibition features a series of 30 works on paper, printed with offset printing technique on aquarelle paper which was preliminary primed with green tea to give them a vintage look. All photos were hand painted with water-colours and tempera.