Between heaven and earth

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The Honored Artist of Azerbaijan, Ashraf Heybetov, has had personal exhibitions in different countries of Europe. His art resides amongst the most respectful collections all over the world. Despite living in Russia and Germany for many years, his many pieces of art are still saturated with the theme of Azerbaijan and he aims to present his motherland to the world. In an interview with the Azeri Observer, the artist speaks on his painting style, developments in contemporary painting and gives recommendations to lovers of art.

BY OXANA VALIYEVA

AZERI OBSERVER STAFF WRITER

Question: How did you develop your unique style?

Answer: I do not find my style unique. I try not to limit myself to one style. The color scheme of my paintings are typical of expressionism; meanwhile, their content shows features of realism. I find it difficult to attribute my art to one direction or style.

Q.: Whose opinion of your art is important for you?

A.: First of all, the opinion of professionals; experts in art. It is important to receive objective assessment in any specialty, as it helps to find a further way forward. The opinions of my loved ones are also valuable. They support me with their objectivity, because criticism is indispensable to encourage development.

Q.: What do you think about contemporary art?

A.: Nowadays, there is a trend of pointless abstractionism. The professionalism of artists and the quality of their art has decreased sharply, as a result of the vogue for painting. Promotion and efficient PR is a key to the success. People of art are not self-critical any more.

Q.: What is your creative credo? What do you convey to the people with your art?

A.: My credo is beauty, to make art just for the sake of art. A true artist is a creator. He must be ahead of other people. His artworks awaken people’s good humanistic feelings.

Q.: You live in Germany. Tell us about the differences between German and Azerbaijani artists.

A.: No one praises their motherland as much as Azerbaijani artists do. It is atypical for German artists. There are plenty of abstract and non-objective things within their art. Decades ago, there were amazing artists in the German Democratic Republic. However, the art school of the GDR has been gradually disappearing since its reunification with the Federative Republic of Germany.

Q.: What attracts you back to Baku, and what does attract you to Germany?

A.: I am happy to visit my favorite city of Baku. Here I speak my native language and try to meet ordinary people. It fills me with energy. The culture dominating in Germany has bourgeois shade. I like German order, their everyday culture. However, I find German society more reserved compared to the friendly and welcoming Azerbaijani people.

Q.: In one interview you said that you ‘love your paintings as if they were your children.’ Did you invest more effort and feeling in some more than others?

A.: The paintings of my early period are especially dear to me: Life and Theater, Dostan, Salam, Azerbaijan … Perhaps these paintings are quite primitive, but they possess a folk spirit. I would single out Salam, Azerbaijan, which expresses my love for my motherland. It was presented to Mr. President Ilham Aliyev at a meeting with the Azerbaijani diaspora in Berlin in 2006. I believe the early paintings of artists always deserve special attention.

Q.: What is your advice to young artists?

A.: Continuously work on your professional development, love your job and create your artwork unselfishly.

Q.: Have you ever had a feeling that some mystical power has directed your imagination and brush?

A.: I often witness mysticism in my life. Nothing happens by accident. All meetings, events and even pictures are predestined. I always encrypt some kind of plot in my art. My paintings are full of allegory, metaphor, symbolism and circumlocutions. That is a kind of mysticism.

Q.: What would you recommend to people who want to buy a piece of art?

A.: If you like a painting, buy it without hesitation. You will benefit without fail, as the prices for paintings are always rising. By acquiring a painting, you not only make a profitable financial investment, but will also improve the atmosphere in your house. An artist, whilst creating an artwork, charged it with their positive creative energy. Such a picture will positively influence the atmosphere in your house. I would advise you to buy paintings from artists. It is much cheaper than in galleries. Besides, our artists are not spoiled by high prices.