"Книги - это корабли мысли, странствующие по волнам времени и
бережно несущие свой драгоценный груз от поколения к поколению"
Tell me the truth.
Caucasus was spread before my eyes...
On the initial pages of one of Leo Tolstoy’s most poignant Caucasian stories a man looks at the landscape around. He sees a quiet mountain village, bushes and trees, the silhouettes of modest houses enhancing the contours of the mountains, then a broad horizon opens, and a sky with its heavy clouds. There, the world nearby meets the distant world, and a new space dimension is manifested: a state that Tolstoy’s hero discovers within himself.
This is how Albert Khadzhaev sees the reality, experiencing it stereoscopically, approaching it closely, touching its surface, turning distant vistas into close ups and transforming everyday things into sublime phenomena. His consciousness becomes a bodily reality, delving into the magical landscape of the visible – the tangible – the hidden.
«I love it when texture appears», Osip Mandelstam noted, without making any difference between poetry and visual and plastic expression. This is how the world of Albert Khadzhaev lives, moving along the axis of time and space, building artistic metaphors for gradual ascension into the world where the horizon and the vertical line can change places. The steps of these staircases represent symbolic supports for things, objects and people, looking like materialized musical scores and building linear structures that demonstrate the principles of the golden section.
The compositions by Albert Khadzhaev are stylistically versatile, reminding of the «new» realism and free European culture with its conceptual imagery. However, they follow the laws of fundamental ancient cultures, sustaining the true measure of Heaven and Earth in dialogue with the Eastern thought. In his creative process, the artist becomes a mediator, «a thinking reed», a guardian for the potentiality of Everything. Instead of just conveying the appearance, he also comprehends the organizational principle of the Universe and the hieroglyphs of its breathing: the simplicity that reveals the truth and the surprising power of transcendent entities being manifested. All this suggests a «different» history of art that does not make void what is already known, but sets everything on fire with its strange newly found presence.
Today, the art of Albert Khadzhaev belongs to the sphere of radical artistic dimensions, with its magical and ordered game of hidden forces and intensities, free from the dictatorship of authoritarianism and asserting the democratic nature of artistic thought. In the most habitual and natural forms, it shocks the viewer on the contact with the unknown even when it seems to show everyday realities. The corporeality of matter, its unexpected «reliefs», its «magical landscape», its inner mood and spirituality enter into a dialogue with the meditative shaping of forms, and manage to break through the hypnosis of the modern culture’s ordinary «linear» images. Albert Khadzhaev’s view subverts classical centrist optics, breaking out of the limits of an individual artifact, promoting the freedom of the figural life with its resonances and continuations. In this light, the traditions of European, Caucasian and Russian cultures are presented as an energy that unites discontinuities and limits of visual and spatial experience. It is endowed with suggestiveness, giving rise to the flows of associations and gaining an almost hypnotic power. In this new spatial feeling, we experience the return of the baroque with all the redundancy of its forms that are used to reflect sober and harmonious states of mind, in the very naturalness of the existence.
Albert Khadzhaev’s visual principles naturally connect the world of real life and the space of art that is revealed to us at special points of their magical encounters. These artistic crossroads do not divide our reality into the layers of the sublime and ordinary, or into the performance and the viewer. Instead, they unite all the dimensions of existence in a whole. The Master’s images are present in the vital history, transfixing its creative continuity in a certain moment of time, revealing the special semantic range and context.
In the visual mythology of Albert Khadzhaev, the eye starts to move in the space of natural meditation. The world around opens up as a whole, and then the eye turns into a tactile organ. On its journey, it feels every inch of the surface, every seam, gap and crease. Its functions are colored by existential forms and realities, identifying the viewer with a depicted personality and its movement in space, both physical and metaphysical. Keeping its organic properties, the space itself triumphs in the grandiose drama of its transfiguration, as a person’s destiny, as a path that is not always easy, but always worthy. It is manifested in the magic of the events, the rhythmic fragmentation of the buildings’ façades, their living texture, the touching architecture of the balconies and windows, as well as the natural orientation into the world of the human abode, into the reality of the objects around, and into their internal dimensions, reflecting them and going deep into them. The images are born in the removal of the boundaries between the inner and outer, as for example, in compositions where the house interior and its objects are brought very close to us, suggesting the time of the day. The visuality acquires its perfect structure; it is filled with details and specificities of sacred concreteness, highlighted by the memory in its touching insecurity, never disappearing anywhere, letting the artist fulfill his mission of testimony. Albert Khadzhaev testifies in the world of simple things, in all the fullness and grace of their meanings, concentrating his attention on a wooden stand for the Koran, vertical lines of prayer beads, an open book, folds of cloth and scattered apricots. The topology of this space is packed with the artist’s experiences, and still consonant with the harmonious classic space rooted in the mysterious depth that is presented to us openly and naturally.
The artist’s honesty depicts the world as an image of ideal harmony, acquired in questioning and constant wakefulness, discipline and continuous work. Each step in this space means a question, immersing one in the miracle of what is revealed, a step that cannot be avoided or skipped, but only taken and experienced, connecting the visual impressions with the poetic style of the place. This place always begins with a secure sheltered «small center», with personal memory that keeps friends, family, loved ones, and things forming an intimate personal world. It also insistently demands the next step, to enter the magical unknown land. This model does not reveal the meanings not by a gradual approach to values, but on the contrary, by outbursts, or by quanta, as physicists would say.
This archetype of luminous memory is always present in genuine culture, opening up in specific details and asserting itself in universal perception. It is exposed in fairy tales, in magic spells, in mythological and poetic consciousness, where ritualism meets the unpredictability of the extreme drama, completely involving the listener and the spectator. This phenomenon opens up aф special ancient state for us, connecting us with the beginning of creation that is kept intact in children and in masterpieces of art. The superficial illusion of virtuoso painting style lifts up, presenting amazing women’s faces, as pure images of selflessness: a dancer Tariyat Kapiyeva, a Balkhar girl, a poet Dzhaminat Kerimova, Bariat, Marian, dead soldiers’ mourning mothers.
Does the past ever go away? It is visually and materially contained in the intimate and personal world of the present, as human memory, culture and history, in their close interconnection.
The compositions by Albert Khadzhaev (the series of Unchukatl village landscapes, the cycle of still lives) develop like photographs, reconstituting the constantly disappearing divine reality, endowing the human eye with vivid movement and the gravity of experience. Visioning and viewing transform into following, travel, and immersion into the layers of escaping space-time, where objects seem about to dissolve, disappearing into nothing, and thus gaining new freedom.
In Albert Khadzhaev’s visual drama, the affinity between a man and the space is created in their mutual relationship. Discovering the space and experiencing its conditions, the man testifies to his personal existential incarnation; he is the subject in this dialogue, as in the composition «Daughter Fatima». The space is endowed with consciousness in Albert Khadzhaev’s artistic system. It is able to reveal and create characters, and to command them. In this case, the space itself becomes a subject (the composition «In Memory of Shaz from Kurkli»). This interrelation of the man and the space and their interdependence are the essence of the artist’s poetic narrative, with its unique iconology. They coexist in the complementary relationship between anthropocentrism and topology, between compression and dispersion, between intense concentration and fluidity, between peace and excitement. In this innovative territory of art, the oppositions reveal themselves as harmonic pairs, clarifying each other and surpassing the logic of the old system of «either one or the other» for the sake of the new imagery of «both at the same time».
This truth, focusing, it would seem, on ordinary reality, opens up a special triumphant world for us, making it possible to realize the inseparable connections with everything that lives around us and with us. Albert Khadzhaev’s artistic devices act like magic optical instruments, revealing special «integration points» in this world, where the immensity of mountains, the crystal hardness of primitive rocks, the thoughtful growth of trees, the ascetic simplicity of human abode remind us of our responsibility for this majestic reality and of spaces that are greater than human ego.
Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Arts,
Head of the Department of Art and Interdisciplinary Programs.
National Center for Contemporary Arts (NCCA)
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