Tair Salahov's Personal Exhibition
January 16 - March 1, 2009
From January, 16 to March, 1 the Foundation hosted Tair Salakhov`s first retrospective exhibition. Tair Teimurovich Salakhov is an important proponent of Russian art, a pioneer of the ęGrim styleĽ, an academician, a maitre. The art itself was not the only concern for Salakhov. Being one of the leaders of the USSR's art community organization, the Artists' Union, he has helped a lot of his colleagues, supporting young artists and students of the Surikov Institute for the arts, sometimes providing legal cover-ups for dissident non-conformist artists. Salakhov has contributed to organizing, in late 1980s and early 1990s, solo shows of works by Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Gunther Uecker, Francis Bacon, Jean Tingely, Giorgio Morandi, Iannis Kounellis, Gilbert & George. Still, Salakhov the government official cannot esclipse Salakhov the artist. In this latter incarnation Salakhov has produced hundreds of paintings and works on paper over the last 60 years. Dozens of them are truly considered the masterpieces of Russian art.
This retrospective came alongside Salakhov's 80th anniversary. It shown his most famous works and also provided a rare chance to look at the paintings in the Azerbaidzhan Art Gallery, that had almost never been exhibited in Russia and are known primarily through catalogs and art books ("The Morning Echelon" (1958), "Reservoir" (1959), "Tunnels of Prague" (1961), "Sabir the Poet" (1962), "Maiden Tower" (1969), "The New Sea").
As one of the main practicioners of the "Grim style", Salakhov became a leader of the young artists' uprising against the false values of Socialist Realism and for painting disengaged from ideology. Salakhov countered the smooth impressionistic brushwork of Socialist Realism with a placard directness of Alexander Deineka and hints of Cezanne's modernism (he first met the great Frenchman's works during his wartime childhood in Baku). Canonical subjects of Soviet painting were discarded in favor of truthful depictions of everyday life that Salakhov found among the oil miners, fishermen and landscapes of his native Azerbaidzhan. And so the new, clear-cut, style was born. These paintings were made half a century ago. Salakhov has a rare and distinctive talent for epic generalization, and that is why his works have not lost their artistic and historical originality over the years.
The "reality of life" was not the only concern for Salakhov. He has authored several masterpieces of the contemporary portrait genre, which are now in the Tretyakov Gallery's collection - "Aidan" (1967), "Composer Kara Karaev"(1960), "Composer Dmitry Shostakovich" (1974 - 1976) et al.
This retrospective had also become a means of showing the audience Salakhov's new work. They are portraits, still-lifes and urban landscapes full of everyday life's poetry. A number of older paintings in the show were almost never seen by the viewers, among them a monumental canvas "To You, Humanity!" (1961), which was finished not long before Yuri Gagarin became the first traveller to the stars. The painting that could serve as a symbol of the space age, was considered "formalist" at the time. It is only today that we have a unique opportunity to discover this unexpected masterpiece, where romanticism of "Grim style", having been used to depict the earthly matters and oceanscapes, heads into the future.