Farhad Farzali, one of the most internationally respected young conceptual artists in Azerbaijan, uses cross-disciplinary media including research, painting, installation, performance, digital art, and sound to explore Azerbaijani identity and visual iconography. Based in Baku, he has an MFA from the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Arts and is currently completing his PhD in architecture focusing on the built heritage of Azerbaijan. As a musician, he is half of the electronic duo Naschkatze with fellow artist Ali Hasanov. As an artist, he is interested in analyzing and subverting cultural, gender and geographical stereotypes through the humorous and thoughtful deconstruction of these topics. His use of multimedia supports his conceptual exploration and he uses art as a tool for anthropological and humanistic inquiry.
Farhad has exhibited extensively throughout the Caucasus, Europe and the Middle East. He contributed work to the 7th Tashkent International Contemporary Art Biennale in 2013, the 16th Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival in 2014, and the 6th Moscow Biennale in 2015, curated by the Unbound Group. In 2016, he co-curated the expansive survey exhibition “Candy Mountains, Oil Shores’ with Nailya Allahverdiyeva, which showcased work by emerging Azerbaijani art for PERMM in Perm, Russia. Recently, his work was featured in the critically-acclaimed 2017 traveling exhibition “Die Greuze,” curated by Inke Arns and Thibaut de Ruyter, which was shown in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Krasnoyarsk, and explored the cultural and geographical borders between Europe and Asia. In 2018, his work was included in the 2018 Art Dubai Contemporary exhibition with Gazelli House gallery. He continues to exhibit his work widely in group shows, and also curates exhibitions, including the aforementioned exhibition in Perm and the 2017 Baku-based exhibition ‘100% Made in Azerbaijan,’ at the ARTIM Project Space where he challenged emerging artists to create conceptual work out of Azerbaijani themes and local materials.
In 2017 Farhad mounted a solo exhibition and performance at ARTIM entitled ‘Molotov Gulab,’ curated by Anna Fech, where he explored his own heritage as the grandson of the scientist who discovered the chemical formula to create the Molotov cocktail. The installation and performance included Farhad symbolically throwing mock Molotov cocktails of rose water at a wall etched in poetry created from a chemical solution, the words revealed through the reaction of the chemicals and the rose water. The exhibition highlights Farhad’s preoccupation with the performance of nostalgia as a conscious act. This idea is also explored in conceptual works such as the 2017 project ‘Happy Birthday, Marina,’ shown at Fragment Gallery in Moscow, curated by Andrey Misiano. In the exhibition, Farhad used the kitsch aesthetics of commercial photography studios in Baku to create a birthday portrait for famous artist Marina Abramovic, presenting this visual dichotomy as a challenge to the border between high and low art, playfully asking the viewers to determine for themselves if and where the border exists. He considers the revival of nostalgic imagery as ‘neo-folk,’ a concept that drives much of his current inquiry, including his ongoing series ‘Granny’s Vocabulary’ of cultural sayings in neon tubes set upon the backdrop of Soviet-era textiles. His most recent work for the 2018 Art Dubai exhibition glorified Azerbaijani musical divas, examining the intersection of music, iconography, and memory, themes which he continues to engage with throughout his artistic career.
Farhad has been a member of the Artists Union of Azerbaijan since 2011; his work is represented in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Baku, Azerbaijan National Museum of Fine Arts and the Yarat Contemporary Art Space, where he maintains a studio to his ongoing conceptual exploration.