Aida Mahmudova

She lives and works in Baku and London. Considers freedom of thought as the main ingredient of creative flight. Maybe that’s why Aida doesn’t prevent herself from eating at night, but prefers spaghetti and fish of all dishes. Favorite flower - lilac. Favorite book - "100 Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Favorite films - "Fight Club" and "A Clockwork Orange"

Today, on almost every corner of the center of Baku, people in the street face on posters an unusual appeal in imperative form: YARAT! Create! This appeal brought to the stagnant atmosphere of the city the previously unknown spirit of creation, search and creative adventure. Over the past year, the non-profit organization YARAT! has held many exhibitions, each of which is unique in its own way. Thus, within the framework of the ÖN SÖZ project, the concept of the organization was presented. The exhibition "Public art" was quite different, the purpose of which was to draw into the art of the masses who do not have a special interest in it. “Public art” made actual art a part of the city’s space, part of the everyday life of the citizens. “We all succeeded because a lot of people were involved in this, who actively participated in all the events,” said the head of the organization, Aida Makhmudova. The first exhibition, which united on one platform the creativity of our young talents with artists of international level, was held in the Museum of Modern Art under the expressive name “United Bridges”. Bridges were thrown to names that have weight in the world of art. The desire to express the multiculturalism of the modern world formed the basis of the exhibition “Communist”. In fact, over the past 20-30 years, the boundaries between nations and religions have significantly thinned, the attentive artist observes and notices this. Not long ago, a major event was held, timed to coincide with the anniversary of YARAT!, Which was held jointly with one of the leading auction houses of Christie’s with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. A certain theme and rhythm of the emerging collaboration with Christie’s was established on an ongoing basis. YARAT! develops, expands its capabilities, acquires an international scale. Aida Makhmudova shared with us about the tasks, problems and prospects for the development of the organization and about the deeply personal matters...


How do you perceive the word "problem", whether it is a social or personal problem?

If there are no problems, then there is no incentive to move forward. There are always a lot of problems, starting with trifles that are hard to get rid of, to organizational or personal ones. Solving a problem, you create that emotional impulse which pushes you forward. I think that problems are good; only when there are many, can they slow down the matter. Especially if these are financial, sponsorship problems ...

From the outside it may seem that the young organization, which is supported by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, has no problems. The question was asked by me specifically to highlight the difficulty of this project. People often superficially judge something without knowing the essence ...

Perhaps not all, but a certain category - yes. We initially worked on our own, as we wanted to gain experience and have some weight before cooperating with organizations such as the Heydar Aliyev Foundation or Christie’s. All past year we worked for this. We have experience. And we decided to cooperate when we were already sure that we would cope with this.

What was the most difficult thing when creating an organization?

The most difficult is the beginning. About three years ago, the idea arose to establish an organization, but when you start a new business, fear always interferes. However, it is worth starting, and somehow everything is formed by itself. When we organized the United Bridges exhibition, we had to deal with big paper troubles, because in the gallery with which we worked in London, the bureaucracy was terrible.

Somewhere I made a mistake in writing one letter - everything must be done anew. It is necessary to take into account that people abroad are very scrupulous, almost like robots. Since we organized the first exhibition on our own, we also hoped to make the anniversary of the organization ourselves. We have a lot of plans. I would like to help young artists, organize workshops for them, hold exhibitions, invite specialists for master classes. This is all a very large amount of work that requires serious financial support. In principle, I am not complaining because they are helping us, and I am very glad because I did not expect such a positive attitude from the sponsors and people who participate in our events.


You exhibit abroad, propagandize Azerbaijani contemporary art. And you, probably, are often asked to take the floor. How are you given public appearances?

Oh, I really, really don't like to perform. For me, this is one of the biggest problems, because I can not overcome a terrible fear of the public. On the eve of the performance, I do not sleep at night, I worry. It is easy for me when I communicate with people directly. And when I walk up to the microphone and see an immense number of faces, I immediately forget what I should say.

And what is the reason?

I do not know, it has always been me. Before leaving, I am almost in a state of fainting. Even in the university I had to make presentations through force. I remember one exam in which I had to present a presentation, otherwise I was going to fail the entire semester. I did not leave the library, saying that I would not go anywhere. Everyone started when I finally had to force myself to go out. Late, but still came. Everything went fine, but what it's worth ...

Being a creative person, you have assigned the responsibility to lead the organization. Probably, it is not easy?

Yes very. Leading is difficult, but nice. I do it with pleasure. At the same time, I want to work on myself, but it is difficult to combine. There is almost no time left; I’m not talking about privacy anymore. Sometimes you want to devote a few days to your creativity and not to come to the office. Moreover, I always have a couple of ideas that would be nice to implement,  for this you just need to find time.

What are you working on right now?

I have new ideas on how and in which way paints can be used. I love painting and working with color, I want to squeeze the full potential out of it. I am interested in the combination of colors with other materials, the way they are manipulated in a three-dimensional state. But first you need to experiment to determine the direction.


A managerial position at times suppresses creativity, but this is not the case. Aida Makhmudova is one of those rare people who is able to see the inner beauty of a person, thing or situation. Let over time it turns out that the attractive is ugly or vice versa - “it’s not interesting without disappointment,” the artist believes. To a person who believes that beauty is a meaningful harmony of inner and outer harmony, God himself ordered to create.
And our heroine sees her future just as an artist in YARAT !. She speaks with great sympathy of Louise Bourgeois, an artist who has worked hard on herself all her life and remaining relevant until the end of her days.

"Generally speaking, I sympathize with all the female artists, - says Aida. - Not because I'm a woman. I believe that men are much better at it ... except for raising children. "


That is the best cooks, designers, architects - men?

In general, yes. The point is probably not that the woman was “suppressed” at one time, but earlier women were not as free as they are now. And men have always been free in their manifestations, and this is probably already embedded in the genes. Maybe after some time, men and women will become equal in this sense. I think men are more enduring and less emotional, this is important. But a woman is incomparably better to create coziness in the house and raise a child.

Your feminine opinion, do you even need to equalize man and woman?

I am for equal positions and look at women just as I look at men. They have equal rights, just men get something better, so in this they should give way ..


Would you like to be a man?

Yes. In a sense, men are easier. They look at things more soberly, and they are not judged so strictly as a woman.

Having touched upon the issues of creativity and mutual relations of the sexes, we could not but touch upon the theme that arises as a result of the merging of one and the other - the theme of children. The artist, by her own admission, owes her life stance to what is not given to men - the birth of a child: "A woman becomes a woman when she becomes a mother." It was after the birth of her daughter that in the works of Aida Makhmudova there appeared a depth, an orientation towards the inside of her “I”.

The desire to understand oneself is felt in particular attention to the subconscious. “I like the line between abstraction and reality,” she admits, “here you can find yourself at this juncture.”


One can determine from childhood that if he/ she has abilities. Do you think your daughter will continue your business?

I would like her to continue. Perhaps not in drawing, but in some field of art. She loves music very much, although I don’t have any hearing or voice at all. Apparently, inherited from her grandmother. By the way she rhythmically moves, I see: it needs to be developed. When she grows up, I would like to direct her to the cinema, but for now it's just a fantasy. She likes drawing, and this can be easily taught.

But the main thing is the ability to think, as an artist, to materialize your ideas. This is the talent.

What rules do you follow in raising your daughter?

The most important thing is not to restrict her freedom in her actions, for example, to allow her to paint on the floor (even though the floor is spoiled). You can not suppress the child in a creative approach; if it's something harmless, let him do it. When she was younger, there were a couple of times that she would pinch or hit. I, of course, said that it was impossible, and she no longer does that. She is small, she still does not understand everything, but I still try to explain why it is impossible. It is wrong to just say “no”, you need to explain your bans. And lying to children is wrong. Children sometimes understand everything better than adults.

With her busy work schedule, Aida tries to spend as much time with her daughter as possible, and recommends that all working mothers have a strong rule to devote themselves for certain hours after work or even the whole day off. 



Now she has no free time: YARAT! prepares for the Venice Biennale in June. This will be the first project of the organization at this level. YARAT! develops a strategic plan for the presentation of contemporary art in Azerbaijan to viewers who are not familiar with it.
The creations exhibited at the Biennale will be of particular value and will go under the hammer in a year and a half with the support of Christie’s auction house.

“I would like the works of our artists to be sold and collectors to buy them in their collections. We will definitely achieve this. ”

And two years later YARAT! will function as a museum of modern art with its own permanent collection. In the meantime, it is planned to develop and launch an educational program.
YARAT! She also continues to invite lecturers from Russia for presentations on art history. In addition, YARAT! is open to young talents, ready to work and collaborate. The organization periodically organizes an “open day” - unprecedented exhibitions for which any artist can come and exhibit his work.

How do you determine whether to make a bet on the artist?

Flair. Well, I listen to the opinions of others. I and several other artists discuss the work together in order to get an objective opinion. There are young, but lazy ones, it is impossible to work with them, because, unfortunately, they do not create anything new. And it is impossible to create anything with these lazy bones.
But there are talented people who want to work. They live it. And they have good work and, the farther, the better. These artists have good prospects!



Photo by Sitara Ibrahimbeyli 

The interview was published in the first issue.