Aidan Salakhova is an Azeri and Russian artist based in Moscow and Carrara, Italy, who works in sculpture, painting, drawing and video. The veiled figure is the protagonist in her enigmatic, often playfully erotic narrative cycles, which set out to deconstruct and challenge the patriarchal order while referencing traditional and religious symbols. In this body of work, the artist recreates the sealed-off feminine intimacy of the harem and appears to celebrate female hegemony and self-sufficiency. Revelations opens with two rooms dedicated to this earlier series. The second half of the exhibition displays new work, including a provocative video installation exploring the erotic potential of the veil, the archetype of the dominatrix and the fantasy of female domination and male submission. In her new sculptural work, Salakhova moves away from the veiled figure and returns to the human form with representations of both the female and male nude. She renders these in granite or marble following the techniques and principles of classical sculpture, but proposes new juxtapositions of male and female that subvert tradition and propose alternative terms of engagement. Her work reveals the influence of multiple artistic traditions: her academy training in Soviet Moscow in the 1980s; her subsequent exposure both to western art history and to contemporary western artists; and her own personal investigations into the art and craft of her Azeri and Uzbekistani heritage.
In her practice she deconstructs prevailing artistic categorisations, eliding oriental and occidental, Islamic and Byzantine, non-figurative and figurative, ancient and modern. As much of her work sets out to question and reconsider inherited ideas, particularly as they relate to women and their role in society, her approach in deploying traditional artistic practices frequently involves identifying characteristic elements and reinterpreting them to convey her individual, progressive vision. Aidan Salakhova was born in Moscow in 1964 to the family of the prominent t Azeri and Russian artist Tair Salakhov. She graduated in 1987 from the Moscow State Surikov Institute of Fine Arts, where she now holds the position of professor. Salakhova has exhibited her work at major international art fairs and biennales, including twice at the Venice Biennale (1991 and 2011) and at the Second Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2007), Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Saatchi Gallery (2016).