Rauf Mamedov. A supper interrupted.

The Frolov Gallery space represents the artworks of different years by Rauf Mamedov: the “Annunciation” diptych from the project “Seven Biblical Scenes” (1996-1997), three polyptychs – “The Last Supper” (1996-1997), “Games on Window Sills” (2003) and “Pieta” (2005), combined into one trilogy, and the nine-part “Supper at Emmaus” (2007).
All these works have already been exposed individually many times at various exhibitions, as well as all together at a large retrospective in the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2011). Yet, today this exhibition of Rauf Mamedov is particularly relevant.
On the one hand, throughout many years his creative process has been referred to eternal themes and biblical scenes. On the other hand, staying in the current context of postmodernism, it does not strive to be scandalous and provocative. It is beyond time. It is relevant, and it is eternal.
For more than a decade the artworks by Rauf Mamedov have been attracting attention by occasional though invariably vivid and memorable projects. They attract the audience for many reasons.
First, it is their obvious professionalism: all the compositions indicate the artist’s indisputable talent of a director. Rauf Mamedov has worked on many fiction and documentary movies, thus he knows how to arrange a mise-en-scène and give extraordinary persuasiveness to each character. The artist knows firsthand about the casting process and a carefully selected type.
Second, it is the fact that the author, using the means of modern high-tech photography, addresses the eternal motives and themes of the old masters’ classical painting in both senses – in form (a polyptych genre, a compositional structure of each part subordinates to a common decision of the whole) and in content (reference to the key episodes of Christ’s earthly life).
And, finally, third – it is the vivid humanistic idea, since all the characters of Mamedov’s artworks are people suffering from a delay in intellectual development or from some physical imperfections. The contemplation of these people, representing scenes from the Holy Scripture, gives the viewer a sincere feeling, not belittling but rather the opposite – an uplifting, cleansing and truly Christian feeling of sympathy and, at the same time, the most powerful impulse of tolerance towards those who are different from the majority of others. Needless to say that these qualities have a special and enduring relevance in today’s Russian reality.
The series of Rauf Mamedov embody the most important trend of the postmodernist artistic discourse, based on a widely understandable citationality as a semantic basic principle of the image construction and on the principle of the removal of the author from the story which he makes real, leaving the space for commenting statements. These extremely powerful artworks have an undeniable artistic value and are among one of the brightest occurrences of the contemporary Russian art.
The works of Rauf Mamedov are well-known in the art world, have been exhibited many times in Russia and abroad in solo and various group exhibitions. They are hold in prestigious collections both in Russia (Moscow Museum of Modern Art; the “Ekaterina” Cultural Foundation, Moscow; Novy Museum, Saint Petersburg), and abroad (Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel; The West Collection, USA; and others).
A.V. Tolstoy
Doctor of Art History
Member of the Russian Academy of Arts
Rauf Mamedov was born in Ganja (Azerbaijan) in 1956. In 1973 he entered the Azerbaijan State Agricultural Academy. In his second year Rauf left the academy and went to serve in the Soviet Army. After the army, from 1976 to 1980, he worked as a mechanic, then as a driver and later on as a medical orderly in a mental hospital. From 1980 to 1985 he was studying and got graduated from the Russian State University of Cinematography named after S.A. Gerasimov. Starting from 1985 he’s been working as a filmmaker in Moscow. Since 1996 he is engaged in the art projects. From 2012 Rauf is a professor at the British Higher School of Design. Currently he lives and works in Moscow.

The artworks of Rauf Mamedov are held in the following collections (the list is not full):

Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, Russia
Multimedia Art Museum / Moscow House of Photography, Moscow, Russia
Ekaterina Cultural Foundation, Moscow, Russia
Novy Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel
Collection of Victor Bondarenko, Moscow, Russia
Collection of Shalva Breus, Moscow, Russia
Collection of Alexander Smuzikov, Moscow, Russia
Collection of Olga Slutsker, Moscow, Russia
Collection of Petr Aven, Moscow, Russia
Collection of Sir Anthony Hopkins, London, England