New York (USA)-based Aga Ousseinov is one of the most recognizable contemporary Azerbaijani artists in the international art scene. Born in Baku, Aga was educated at the V.I.Surikov Fine Arts Institute in Moscow (USSR), where he obtained his MFA before moving to New York City in 1991. In New York, he participated in the prestigious Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and further developed his art practice. Working across various media including sculpture, installation, video, drawing, collage and photography, Aga’s conceptual practice is influenced by nostalgia, ideas of modernity, and the concept of utopia as brought about by technology. He has shown his work in Azerbaijan, USA, Italy, Sweden, Romania, Greece, Russia, UK, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, and Serbia and he actively exhibits in museums and galleries all over the world. On the commercial side, he created artwork displays for French luxury brand Hermes in their flagship New York and Beverly Hills, California (USA) stores in 2006, 2009 and 2016. Aga’s work was presented in the Azerbaijan Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. He was part of the 2012-2013 survey exhibition of Azerbaijani contemporary art ‘Fly to Baku’, that was shown in Paris, London, Moscow, and Baku. In Baku, Aga’s work was included in the 2012 ‘Merging Bridges’ group show of Azerbaijani and British artists and the 2015 exhibition ‘Observers of the Flight’, both at the Museum of Modern Art. He also mounted a solo exhibition in through Yarat Contemporary Art Space in 2012 entitled ‘The Kite and The Impossible Globe.’ On May 2, 2019, Aga’s video work was projected onto the Manhattan Bridge Anchorage in Brooklyn, New York as part of the Light Year public art program entitled ‘8 Attempts to Exhaust [The Poetics of] a Place.’
Aga’s artwork combines elements of science fiction, retro futurism, fantasy and nostalgia to explore disparities between inner and outer worlds – what we perceive and what is reality. Using a style that is inspired by early 20th century photography and graphics, he renders elements of technology as dreamlike objects. He is fascinated with scientific advancements like aviation and space travel and their impact on humanity, meditating on how technology changes the way in which people interact as well as its effects on culture and social life. His 2017 mixed media series ‘Celestography’ combines models of rovers, planets, drawings of satellites, and other mechanical feats. The works present a disoriented bird-eye view of space as crowded with the technological detritus of human exploration, a humorous portrayal of humanity’s thirst for discovery and domination. In other work such as his C-print photographic collages Bucholic Landscape (2008) and The Barque (2012), he renders machines such as dirigibles and submarines as primitive and childlike, removing their destructive potential and returning the sense of wonder that accompanied their creation for the first time. Through these works he interrogates the idea that early technology was designed to create a utopia, celebrating human invention as opposed to its destructive tendencies, for which technology was ultimately forced to serve. It is through the lens of personal and historical nostalgia that he reminds us that the inner ambitions of humanity have great creative potential, and it is up to us to decide to what ends they should be used.