Painter Soltan Galib oglu Soltanli, originally from Kalva in the Agsu region of Azerbaijan and now based in Baku, began pursuing art at a young age. His father did not support his love of art, so Soltan developed his talent in secret. Leaving his village as a young man, he studied philosophy and linguistics at the Azerbaijan State Pedagogical University after being unable to attend the Azerbaijan State School of the Arts, which inspired him to delve deep into the philosophical meaning of art and art history. As his practice matured, he decided to create his own visual language as opposed to following the example of other artists, a result of his self-education in art, aesthetics and Azerbaijani artists. His conclusion was that painting should express the intellect and philosophy of the artist as opposed to reality – an idea that he terms the ‘art of thinking,’ or intellectual art, versus highly conceptual art. His work is thus a timeless rendering of universal themes – he reveals his intentions to his audience through the subjects of his painting so that he message behind his work can be more fully understood and enjoyed. He terms his style ‘Irrealism,’ which is meant to be inspirational, optimistic, and honest with the viewer. He is also a well-known graphic artist and cartoonist, competing in various international cartoon competitions and exhibitions; during the most recent of contest in 2018, he won the third prize at the 9th International Tourism Cartoon Competition. He is currently preparing an exhibition of work for January 2019 in Baku.
Growing up in his village, Soltan developed a strong connection to nature which is evident in the subjects and color palette of his work. In his 2018 exhibition ‘Irrealism,’ he used saturated acid blues, greens, yellows and reds to convey people, rural landscapes, and animals in both mundane and dreamlike renderings, presenting an expansive interpretation of the nature of reality. The work is striking in its graphic, somewhat hallucinatory quality and references to primitive aesthetics. His painted portraits of people reveal his illustrative style as a cartoonist which adds personality and emotion to the faces of his subjects. His landscape compositions are both painted flat and in other instances, using expressive brush strokes to emphasize movement and depth. In his works, he references universal existential themes such as love, labor, death and human relationships, titling the works to give insight into his intention, revealing his own nuanced understanding of life. Humorous and meditative, Soltan reveals his interpretive framework of deep symbolism and accessible imagery, inviting viewers to contemplate the complexity of life for themselves.