Photographer Sanan Aleskerov began his artistic practice with a degree in journalism from the Azerbaijan State University, inspiring him to capture the people and places of his home, Baku. While he worked as a photojournalist and a photography instructor, he has always been driven to use his lens to document the daily rhythm of Azerbaijan. He was the head of the Artistic Council of the Azerbaijan Association of Photographers from 1999-2009 and maintains his studio in Baku, working commercially and teaching students, as well as exhibiting his photography in various shows across the world. He has shown work in Norway, Russia, Italy, Germany, France, Mongolia, Georgia, Turkey, the UK, and he participated in the seminal traveling art exhibition Fly to Baku. Contemporary Art from Azerbaijan (2012-2013). In 2013 his work was exhibited in Transparency of Simplicity at Yay Gallery in Baku, in the Home Sweet Home exhibition at the Baku MOMA, and in the 55th Venice Biennale as part of the exhibition for the Azerbaijani Pavilion. In 2014, his work was shown at Contemporary Istanbul in Turkey, Istanbul and the Vienna Art Fair in Austria, Vienna. In 2015, he was commissioned by Yarat to record the disappearing Sovietskiy district, a historic neighborhood that has been replaced by the urban growth of contemporary Baku. He is the recipient of various regional and international awards and prizes, and his photographs are held in the permanent collections of Salvador Velaseca Museum, Reus, Spain, the Photographic Library, Surrey, Great Britain, and the Baku Art Centre and Baku MOMA in Azerbaijan. His work is also in private collections in Turkey, the UK, the USA and across Europe.
Sanan’s conceptual documentary style has helped shape Azerbaijani art photography by inspiring a narrative focus of the countless students that he has mentored. He is drawn to details, intimate moments, and personal connections – his work presents the subjects of the photographs with artistic honesty and without the extensive visual manipulation so heavily used in contemporary photography. He draws inspiration from fellow artists such as the famous Magnum photographer Josef Koudelka, who visited Baku twice during his career, and whose iconic images of Baku’s oil industry are delicately rendered in black and white. Sanan also uses the black and white aesthetic of explore architecture, urbanism, and the role of humans in the creation or destruction of both, exploring the complexity of the coexistence of humanity with the world around it. His images reveal layers of hidden meaning in their tonal depth and shadows, highlighting features that are often overlooked or unacknowledged, such as intricate patterns carved by machinery across the surface of the earth or the curve of an architectural detail in sharp contrast to the environment around it. He examines how these moments create meaning in space, and through acute observation and framing of his subjects, he captures the emotional attachments that these spaces encapsulate and come to represent. Through his documentation of shifting landscapes he is preserving the memory of Baku, and his art gives form to the narratives of the experiences of the people and places that make the city what it is today.