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YARAT holds group exhibition METACODE


YARAT Contemporary Art Space has presented a group exhibition METACODE at the Museum of Azerbaijani Painting of the XX-XXI centuries, Azernews reports, citing Trend Life.

The art project covers artworks by Azerbaijani artists of different generations including Rasim Babayev, Rashad Babayev, Huseyn Jalilov, Teymur Daimi, Irina Eldarova, Leyli Alakbarova, Anvar Asgarov, Huseyn Hagverdiyev, Orxan Huseynov, Farhad Xalilov, Zaur Gantamirov, Leyla Gabulova, Tarlan Gorchi, Sanan Gurbanov, Aida Mahmudova, Mammad Mustafayev, Altay Sadigzada, Mir Nadir Zeynalov and the creative team “043” (Movsum & Ramil).

Founder of YARAT Contemporary Art Space, famous artist Aida Mahmudova, public figures, well-known cultural and art figures viewed the exhibition.

Speaking about the art project, Farah Alakbarli outlined that the exhibition tells about the cultural codes of the nation, which have been transformed over the centuries.

“An exhibition project about how these codes, referring to what was in history – rock paintings, applied arts, architecture – were born, changed and they modified along with them. It includes works from the fund of the National Art Museum of Art and Modern Art Museum. The exhibition presents works of both representatives of the older generation of artists, as well as authors of middle and young age. For the first time, new works were created for the exhibition at the Museum of Painting of Azerbaijan of the XX-XXI centuries, which, in my opinion, served as a cultural bridge between two generations that refer to the same topic from different perspectives,” Alakbarli said.

Carpet Museum Director Shirin Malikova stressed that METACODE is an interesting research project.

“I hope that representatives of the National Academy of Sciences, and universities will visit the exhibition, and in the future, this issue will become the topic of one of the scientific dissertations. The work on the project was extremely interesting, the topic is relevant to our art history, and I think the exhibition will become an impetus for a deeper study of it. I think the exhibition raises a question rather than gives an answer… These answers are yet to be explored by all of us. In the exhibition, the viewer sees what we start from – from our history, roots, and traditions. The exhibition has a very interesting historical part that plunges us into the world of Azerbaijani culture,” said Malikova.

Sabina Shikhlinskaya called METACODE a major art project which unites brilliant artists.

“The exposition showcases unique works, many of which have never been exhibited. The name of the exhibition is intriguing-METACODE. This is a study and a hypothesis of three curators that some new visual language is possible, based on our history, on visual signs. We tried to trace the connection between the ancient and the present, between the past and the present day, in order to open a new page in a certain language called meta code, which consists of ancient geometric, compositional, visual, and mystical codes,” said Shikhlinskaya.

One of the participants of the exhibition, artist Orxan Huseynov, presented a work called “Min bir xaraba” (One thousand ruins), in which he uses satellite images of Azerbaijan’s territories liberated from occupation.

“In my work, there is a certain connection between the parable and reality. The basis was an excerpt from Nizami Ganjavi’s poem Treasury of Secrets – the hunting scene of Shah Nushirevan and the vizier. They find themselves near the ruins, where two owls are talking. The shah turns to the vizier to explain their conversation. The vizier says that the owls are talking about matchmaking. One wants to marry her daughter, and the other demands a large ransom – several destroyed villages. And if we compare it with our new history, we have large territories that were destroyed during the occupation of Azerbaijani lands. In addition, Nizami lived in Ganja, and this peaceful city also suffered during the 44-day Patriotic War,” said Huseynov.

In their remarks, the project curators Farah Alakbarli, Shirin Malikova, and Sabina Shikhlinskaya noted that the basis of the exhibition included the works of artists of the post-perestroika period in dialogue with the artists of the new century.


Throughout history, visual language has been used to encode meanings and implications. People have been “verbalizing” their thinking since ancient times by creating images to convey ideas. The ability to react to hypothetical situations played an essential role in abstract thinking throughout history. As evidenced by the abstract ornaments on the oldest artifacts, abstract language was used in art as early as ancient times. According to the aesthetic concept of abstract language, creativity is a reflection of the laws of the universe hidden in the external, alluvial phenomena of nature.

As a result, the artist expresses the regularities consciously or intuitively through the ratio of abstract forms, in which the qualities of line, shape, proportion, and color convey meaning directly without the help of images. Abstract creativity comes to represent the universal nature of globalization through the art of modernism and postmodernism, working with the primary elements of visual language. In light of the fact that we are the descendants of the people who once created a visual language, it seems appropriate to recreate ancient meanings and update traditional knowledge to fit modern realities. Considering that the prefix “meta” partly overlaps in meaning with the Latin prefix “post”, the conceptualization of the new aesthetic and ideological paradigm has a very special dialectical connotation.

In the history of mankind, objects and nature have been observed and described, and with the help of imagination, a completely different dimension has been created, sometimes visualizing non-material concepts like emotions, thoughts, and religious beliefs. It is through such ambiguous ideograms of primitive people that we can observe on the rocks of Gobustan and Gemigaya that we can find the basic foundation for various types of art. One of the most striking examples of the embodiment of the meta code in sculpture is the stone plastics of ancient Turks: vertical sculptures in the form of human figures, characterized by symbolism and schematics, built-in burial grounds, known by Orkhon script monuments and as Balbals in modern art criticism. As a form of communication, Carpet Art encodes reality into a system of significations. The carpet represents all of the worldviews of the people expressed in signs and as a method of visual self-expression. During the Middle Ages, miniature art served as an encrypted pictorial letter, which despite its realism is more code than illustration. Using imagery and color to convey symbolism, the miniatures depict reality in a conditional way. The idea of comprehending the world in miniature is achieved through harmony. As for the meta code, it’s impossible to ignore the semantic ambiguity of Arabic and the calligraphy based on it, especially when it functions as an important part of Islamic architecture.

Through the exhibition “METACODE”, twenty Azerbaijani artists from different periods share their art pieces, revealing the cultural codes of the nation. In this research project, the curatorial concept is based on the theory that the cultural code has evolved through a hidden language of symbols and lines, reflected in various artistic forms. The exposition is based on the works of artists of the “post-Perestroika” period in dialogue with artists of the new century. Although the artists experimented with generalization, geometrizing, phoneless compositions, and trying different textures during the 1980s and 90s, they were unable to find recognition for their work. The Soviet School’s figurative and descriptive approach in their paintings changed to an abstract and geometrical approach. In the work of the new generation of artists, cultural codes, and some abstract subconscious messages take on an inseparable relationship with national identity, philosophy, history, and politics while being visualized in technology’s language.

The exhibit includes works from the collections of the Azerbaijani National Museum of Art and Baku MoMA (Baku Museum of Modern Art).

Exhibition duration: December 7, 2022 – April 30, 2023

Venue: The Museum of Azerbaijani Painting of the XX-XXI centuries

Address: Baku, Bayil dist., National Flag Square

Exhibition opens: Tuesday – Sunday, 12:00 – 20:00

By Laman Ismayilova

About Fidan Abdullayeva