Artist and sculptor Teymur Rustamov was born and raised in Baku within a family of prominent artists. After graduating from the Azim Azimzadeh College of Art, he continued his education in the faculty of sculpture at the Tbilisi Art Academy, and graduated with his master’s degree in sculpture from the Division of the State Academy of Art of USSR in Baku. He has been exhibiting work since 1982 and has been a member of the Azerbaijan Union of Artists since 1991. He is the creator of many public sculptures of Azerbaijani historical figures and events, most significantly statues of Heydar Aliyev in the Heydar Aliyev Park, and the Khojali Genocide Memorial (2008) in Baku, which he completed by Teymur, and his father Aslan and brother Mahmud. The family also has their own gallery in Baku. He has had a long and varied career – his work was included in the 1989 Biennale of Republics of Caspian Region where he won the second prize, the 53rd Venice Biennale in the Azerbaijan Pavilion in Venice, Italy and the 5th Aluminium International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Baku in 2009. In Baku, he has mounted a solo exhibition in 2010 and a joint exhibition held with Mahmud at the Baku Museum of Modern Art in 2012. His work is held in state museum collections in Azerbaijan and in the Azerbaijan Culture Center in Paris, as well as in private collections in Azerbaijan, Germany, Russia, Austria, and the USA.
Teymur’s work is characterized by his use of materiality to convey the emotional concepts behind his work. Using playful forms, his artworks refer to social and cultural issues through a manipulation of media such as metal, stone, glass and plastic, among others. His additional training as a jeweler is evident in the detailing that he embeds in his metal works, using metal juxtaposed with other materials to create uniquely textured surfaces. For the 2009 Venice Biennale, he presented a multimedia work, showing another more conceptual side of his practice. Titled ‘I TRUST,’ the installation, which can be seen at the Azerbaijan State Museum of Art in Baku, presents a silver mirrored life-size avatar of a human being positioned to leap off of the podium on which he stands towards a mirrored ball across the room from the figure. In the installation, which is described as perhaps a representation of subconscious desires, the anticipation of motion captures to moment just before change begins, when a decision is made, and an action is taken.
In his 2010 solo exhibition at the Baku MOMA, Teymur showed is virtuoso skill by presenting works across a wide variety of materials and concepts. Included in the show were figurative works that refer to his classical training and parallel practice of creating statues and monuments, intimate works with fine detail, and larger installations working with different volumes in space. Notably, his social engagement is clear through a trio of works related to drug use – No to Drugs No. 1 (2010), in which a pregnant human figure is injected by needles into her womb, No to Drugs No. 2 (2010) in which a molded brain is presented in a vitrine with needles injecting a substance into the brain, and No to Drugs No. 3, where a model of a human head is tiled with pills. The works provide a commentary on contemporary medicine’s attempt to alleviate suffering through substances as opposed to humanistic interventions. In contrast, his bronze work A Story of One Work (2008), which was accompanied by a study of his artistic process, show the intricacies of his skill as a sculptor in modeling transforming the figure of a human into a paganistic figure in which the human head is replaced by that of a bull, reminiscent of the bull motif emblematic of Baku’s Icheri Sheher. By exploring both social life and cultural memory, Teymur’s work is a reflection of contemporary life, both in Azerbaijan and across the world.