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Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, is a cultural gem in the Caucasus. The city has a rich heritage and, as it develops at great speed, is quickly becoming a new destination for contemporary art lovers. Today, Baku has a vibrant modern art scene with numerous galleries spread around the city. Here are the city’s ten best contemporary art galleries and museums not to miss.
The Museum of Modern Art, or the MIM as it’s referred to, is home to an outstanding contemporary collection of Azeri and European masters. Though its main mission is to present the works of local avast-garde artists from the second half of the 20th century, such as Rasim Babayev, Ashraf Murad, Aga Ousseinov or Nadir Kasimov, the museum also displays works from the European masters such as Dali, Chagall and Picasso. The Museum was initiated by the First Lady, Mehribad Aliyeva, and opened to the public in 2009. The Museum has, as it is defined, a ‘moving abstract structure’ thanks to its bright white walls and open spaces where no walls or corridors stop the visual flow, developing a multidimensional perspective to each exhibited work.
Baku Museum of Modern Art, Khatai, Baku, Azerbaijan, +994 12 490 84 02
Yeni Gallery has been at the forefront of Baku’s contemporary experimental platforms since 1986. Initiated in 1988 by a few emerging artists, who later collaborated under the establishment of the Association Of Creative Youth of Azerbaijan, the venue became the city’s most prominent cultural hub. Yeni translates as ‘new’, which reveals the gallery’s intention to help emerging artists; fostering creative artistic expression; and being an open and accessible platform for any novel art movements. The gallery represents established and newcomer artists alike under various profiles, ranging from photographers to architects, composers, vocalists and poets, creating a stimulating, multifaceted contemporary art center.
Yeni Gallery, 4/6 Aziz Aliyev Street, Baku, Azerbaijan, +994 12 598 45 48
Another commercial gallery just beside the sea promenade of Baku, Natavan Gallery & Club, is a new player in the city’s contemporary art scene. Though it has barely celebrated its one year anniversary, the Natavan Gallery has already established its name by participating at acclaimed art festivals and becoming a favored spot for buyers and art enthusiasts alike. Named after the owner, Aliveva Natavan, who, with the help of creative director Neymatova Sayyara, aimed at creating a place that fuses a wide range of styles, trends and artistic voices. While it is primarily home to a great selection of Azeri paintings, Natavan also displays photomontages, sketches, and fine arts from various artists.
Natavan Gallery & Club, Asəf Zeynalli 6/8, Baku, Azerbaijan, +994 12 492 11 89
ART GROUP is a unique, creative complex that was established by local artists Elmar and Jamelya Gashiev in 1995. What makes this venue novel is that since 2000 it has also functioned as a design studio, with the main focus on interior, exterior and architectural design projects. Besides the design activities, ART GROUP promotes fine and decorative Azeri art in a great variety of mediums, ranging from paintings, photographs, carpets, ceramics and antiques. ART GROUP’s sister site is ART Garden, one of the top cultural restaurants in Baku not only because of its traditional culinary practice but also thanks to the great variety of in-house contemporary exhibitions.
ART GROUP, 11 Asef Zeynalli, Icheri Sheher, AZ1001 Baku, Azerbaijan, +994 12 492 20 13
This establishment scarcely self-publicizes, and yet is an active participant in Azeri cultural life with exhibitions attracting constant media interest. The latest exhibition Those, Who Lost Their Heads by Anar Shamsiev garnered substantial interest thanks to its unflinching examination of social problems. The Kiçik QalArt brand covers both the gallery and a project sponsored by Art Ex East. The Gallery itself is located in Almaty’s Old City and was established in 2009. To uphold the shared features of today’s contemporary art galleries, Kiçik QalArt is also home to diverse events, most of them exploring modern-day themes -such as world peace or office life.
Kiçik QalArt, 58 Böyük Qala, Baku, Azerbaijan, +994 55 520 25 35