Artist and curator Sabina Shikhlinskaya is one of the most prominent promoters of contemporary conceptual art in Baku. She initially studied painting in Baku and then monumental painting in St. Petersburg, and has expanded her practice to include various media and techniques. She has had numerous exhibitions, solo shows, participation in biennials and international exhibitions of her work in Russia, Italy, Germany, Georgia, Estonia and Poland. In Baku, her work was celebrated in a solo show at the Baku MOMA entitled ‘Illusions’ in 2014, and again in a joint exhibition entitled ‘Dacha’ in 2016, as well as many other group and gallery exhibitions. Her artworks are also held in prominent public and corporate collections In Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia, and her work is included in private collections across Asia, North America, Europe, Israel, and Russia. Her significant contribution to the artistic landscape of Azerbaijan has earned her recognition at home and abroad, and she was awarded with the titled of Honored Artist of Azerbaijan.
One of Sabina’s most recent pieces is a large mural in the Landmark Hotel in Baku, entitled The Oil Epic (2018), which is a site-specific artwork depicting the history of the oil industry in Azerbaijan. Created in four parts, it is a chronicle of the evolution of the industry, using color and expressive brush strokes to depict the emotional impact of oil on society and the environment. Located in the lobby of the building, the mural wraps the interior walls and immerses viewers within its visual narrative. She was also commissioned to create From Down to Dusk (2017) another mural in the Landmark Hotel executive lounge, which is an abstracted view of the city of Baku, its rooftops lit by the sun.
Sabina is also a prolific curator, supporting the development of younger Azerbaijani artists through sponsoring exhibitions or commissioning projects. She is a member of various international curatorial organizations, such as the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CiMAM), and participates in conferences and academic discussions about Azerbaijani art across the world. In Baku, she recently developed the project ‘Disappearance’, which was a group exhibition of video work and photography in the historic Cultural Center named after Ibrahim Abilov in the Sovetski district of Baku in November 2018. This exhibition was prescient in its subject matter and location – the artworks all considered the changing architectural landscape of Baku, much of which has recently been destroyed to make way for new urban developments. In her video work The Sky on his Shoulders, included in the exhibition, Sabina created a narrative of a historical building, showing the immense cultural memory held within these spaces. Shown within the cultural center, itself dating to 1835 and holding immeasurable social and cultural value but also under threat because of its location, Sabina’s artwork asked viewers to consider what is lost when the memory of such spaces is erased. Her next curatorial project is the exhibition ‘To Be a Woman’ that will take place at the Tbilisi Art Fair, May 17-19, 2019 showcasing four generations of Azerbaijani artists that all consider gender issues in their work. Like all of Sabina’s curatorial projects, it challenges viewers to examine their own thoughts and biases. Despite presenting challenging topics, Sabina’s work carries a spirit of optimism, and through engaging with her conceptual vision, viewers have the opportunity to see things from a new perspective.