Openings Museums Azerbaijan

Baku art centre launched in former Soviet naval base

New works by the Iranian-born artist Shirin Neshat to go on show

The new Yarat Contemporary Art Space

Works by international and local contemporary artists owned by Yarat, an Azeri non-profit organisation, are due to go on show on 24 March in its new home, a former Soviet-era naval building in Baku, the capital of oil-rich Azerbaijan. Called “Making Histories” (until 1 October), the inaugural show at the Yarat Contemporary Art Space will feature works by more than 20 artists.

New works by the Iranian-born artist Shirin Neshat (below) will also go on show, including The Home of My Eyes, 2015 (until 23 June). The commissioned piece includes 55 portraits of Azeris “to create a tapestry of human faces which pays tribute to the rich cultural history of Azerbaijan and its diversity,” Neshat says.

Aida Mahmudova, an artist, arts patron and niece of the country’s first lady, Mehriban Aliyeva, established Yarat in 2011. The non-profit is making its presence felt at contemporary art events worldwide. In May it it is due to launch a collateral event at the Palazzo Barbaro during the Venice Biennale.

Mahmudova has amassed the Yarat collection in the past three years. She says: “[It] is at an early stage and will continue to grow.” A portion of Yarat’s annual budget funds acquisitions and commissions. Its main funding comes from corporate sponsors, individual donors and part of the proceeds of works sold by the Yay Gallery in Baku, which is run as a social enterprise.

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