In my post Voices from a Silent Generation on Azerbaijani artists of the so-called Absheron School of painting, who protested against the Soviet regime throughout their entire lives, I did not mention Rasim Babayev, for I would like to introduce him in a separate post as I sincerely believe he is absolutely exceptional.
Babayev was more than a good artist; he was an excellent fairy story-teller. Just like those of Chagall, his canvases become a substitute for elements we lack in life. They are magic. The work of this extremely charming person with a great sense of humor reveals his rich fantasy, extraordinary inventiveness, blind optimism and a deceptive fairy-tale naiveté. However his technique, as opposed to his subject matter, is not naive at all; his art possesses an immense energy, creating a phenomenal combination of vulnerability and power. His portraits of “grandmothers”, Absheron women, and folkloric characters bring out a peculiar sense of magical depth and grotesque mystery.
Although, back in the past Azerbaijan was little acquainted with the modern art of Western world, this still had a strong influence on Azeri artists and the artworks of Rasim Babayev's fellow painters recall those already established trends, however Babayev developed his own unique style; possibly using some aspects of Picasso’s Cubism for human faces in combination with oriental motifs, colourful images, symbolism and mystery. It seems like Rasim Babayev left the traces of his presence in each of his paintings; there is a little bit of the artist “in” his every single work that only emphasizes the magical character of his art. Living in between the two worlds, Babayev claimed that ogres, angels, dragons and demons visited him as a child, and until the very last day they never left his canvases.
The Artist's studio
Rasim Babayev, Pegasus, 1977
Rasim Babayev, Painted on wall at Dacha Bilgah, 1980
Rasim Babayev, Self-portrait, painted on the door of his studio, 1980