Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Aerial views of Aga Ousseinov

Born in 1962, the Russian artist Aga Ousseinov grew up along the Caspian Sea in Baku, Azerbaijan (former USSR). Shaped by the expansive seascape surrounding him, Ousseinov dreamed of a different world - far beyond  human limitations - covered in vast uncharted territories ripe for exploration. The artist was equally captivated by the mechanization of the Soviet Union and developed an early interest in airplanes and aviation. Artistic explorations of the relationship between man and the machine also caught his attention and from a young age he was looking at the work of the Italian Futurists, Bauhaus and films such as Sergei Eisenstein's silent movie "Battleship Potemkin" (1925) and Dziga Vertov's "Man with a Movie Camera" (1929).  

His fascination with machines went hand in hand with direct exposure to Cold War militarism. Soviet inventions like the Ekranoplan, fabricated under an utopian rhetoric of progress, had an enduring impact on the artist: Ousseinov became an inventor, his inventions metaphors of flight from the socialist idealism of his childhood.

Now living and working in New York, Ousseinov's curious but utterly enchanting contraptions are deliberately playful. Their success manifests itself in the ambiguity of playfulness verses usefulness. His studio space is covered with objects; a wingless airplane sculpture hovers next to a square globe with traceable four corners, alongside a series of large scale kites affixed to a wall but ready for flight in an instance.  He invites participation and play. Reminiscent of ancient and exotic artifacts, essentially unrealized past inventions, his objects are inspired by Medieval, European and early Oriental scientific diagrams and maps. Taking his inventions one step further, he reinterprets inventions of the past, stripping these objects of their original function so they something quite different through a process of transition -  airplanes grow legs, pilot morph into birds and the world is no longer round. 

Ousseinov's art is delightfully humorous but inevitably reveals an ambivalent nostalgia for an utopian past. His work seeks to explore pressing contemporary issues such as mass consumerism, globalization and progress while simultaneously reaffirming the role of art in facilitating space for imaging the fantastical.

Ousseinov studied at the V. I. Surikov Fine Arts Institute in Moscow and ICP in New York. Since 1991, when he moved to the US, he has practiced as an artist and continues to show his work widely both in the States and abroad. Recent critically acclaimed work includes a collaborative installation with Irina Ryjak in the Azerbaijan Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale and his participation in "OilScapes" at the Peacock Visual Arts Centre, Aberdeen.

A  number of forthcoming shows are in the planning stages for 2015 including a group project Grand Delusions. For further information on the availability of works or to organize a studio visit, please contact me. Ousseinov also has a kite piece on view in an upcoming group paper exhibition at the Show Room Gowanus gallery in Brooklyn, NY from December 12th.

All images "Courtesy of the Artist"
Arctic Landscape (Innocent version), 2012, ink, pencil, bamboo stripes on kozo paper
Landing (Flight), 2006, wood, wire, fabric, papier mache, gesso, pigments
The Aerial View Of My Hometown II, 2014, rice paper and archival paper collage on wooden panel
Brave Old World, 2014, Mixed media, limited edition of 6

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