Author: Valentina REZNIKOVA
The works of Elmira Abbasly are well known far beyond Azerbaijan. She was the first artist to present nationally dressed dolls in applied art. Much has been written and told about her. But creation is a process of moving forward, every second! This movement transforms the artist into a creator of the Universe whose mission is to become a guide between Light and Man...
We met with Elmira-khanim in her studio. In artist’s cosy space that serves as both her home and her studio. This studio-apartment does not look like any of those usually referred to as an artist's studio. Every inch of the space is transformed into the beauty of artistic expressive symbols and metaphors. There are strange birds, fish, chests, wizards from fairy tales, a group of coquettish pumpkins and gourds, bunches of flowers, parrot, handsome prince surrounded by noble ladies and oriental beauties, plenty of cushions of different sizes, artistically scattered on the sofa and improvised "inflatable" armchairs living together with her in this apartment... In short, it was unusual, beautiful and... bright an impression. Not because streams of light poured in the windows that opened the view of the Caspian Sea, but because each of these things radiated own unique light. This light invisibly penetrates the space of the studio-apartment giving a unique flavour and creating a special atmosphere for creative work. This ‘speaking’ space, so diverse and multi-faceted, has yet one distinct voice - that of the hostess herself, setting the tone and in a state of continuous dialogue with the world around her. Through the artistic symbols and metaphors as part of her works, she conveys to the outside world this simple truth of hers: man is part of the Universe imbued with vibrations of Goodness, Love, and Creativity. These are not just words. This is the style and way of life of the artist, who, by discovering the world through images of her dolls, is learning and discovering herself.
As we talked, I had a feeling that the dolls were listening to our casual yet rich conversation. It seemed as if the space around us was alive: it was breathing and had a voice of its own. And this may be true, for the artist herself does not call her works dolls. Each of them has a name. This one, for example, is an exquisite lady named Violetta. She has as much grace as she has confidence in her superiority. But this superiority is not that of a swaggering impostor, but of a confident individual: a woman who knows exactly what it takes to save this world from destruction. Yes, this is the beauty of her outer and inner worlds. That's why Violetta is constantly in touch with the Universe! She has a telephone, which has the same colour as her cloth, because harmony is above all for this sophisticated and delicate lady.
"Elmira-khanim, your unfailing passion for applied art has long been known in Azerbaijan. You are a living legend who entered the history of national culture by creating an artistic national doll. You have had many exhibitions both in Azerbaijan and abroad; you are acknowledged as a master, have awards, popularity and fame. What is an artistic doll for you today?"
“It is a way and means to learn about ourselves, opening up new opportunities to talk to the world with utmost honesty and trust and, most importantly, to communicate back to the Universe. The main thing is to be able to read the messages it sends us through various signs.”
"Well, think of the tale of Sim-Sim, the cave with sackfuls of money and gold. Everyone who visited it in search of material pleasures found something for himself. I found my own Sim-Sim cave when I started working with dolls. This revealed to me the secret of interaction in the linear structure of Time (past-present-future). Meaning that a doll or a puppet as a work of art is key to discovering oneself."
"I don't understand..."
"A doll is not a toy. It is an Idea from the Universe sort of speaking to us about something important. Violetta, for example, reminds us that whatever we do every moment of our lives is filled with the breath of Eternity..."
“What does this family of expressive pumpkins tell us?”
“That family values are above and beyond everything; that traditional values are spiritual achievements that go back centuries.”
"And what about these nice brushes for decorating tablecloths and curtains?"
“Their purpose is to harmonise space with beauty.”
"So, like Dostoevsky, you believe that beauty can save the world?"
"That too. But the moral laws are within us. They presuppose an organic union of external and internal beauty."
At that moment it seemed that the Oriental and European ladies (I can't say dolls!) exhaled approvingly, the handsome prince smiled indulgently, the fish began their water dance and moving their fins, and the birds froze without taking their eyes off us and tilted their beautiful crowned heads. I thought Elmira-khanim had so densely ‘inhabited’ her studio-apartment with the beauty of images that she hardly ever gets a chance to stay alone for some time. Even in the artistic disorder of this premise with a parrot in a cage, a cheerful old lady with a teapot and teapots transformed into caskets and chests! I wanted to touch them all, take them into my hands and look inside. It seemed that some secret lived inside the teapot transformed into a chest. But only the owner of this space, Elmira-khanim, knew about it. Noticing my impulse, she said: "If something tingles inside you when you interact with a work of art, it means you have not just read the information, but have entered a creative space that has become a background for your personal imagination."
As I was looking at faces of these doll-ladies, I could not stop thinking that they did not like such unceremonious intrusion in their lives. They were much more sympathetic to the statements of admiration for their feminine beauty and outfits. Birds, on the other hand, were looking at me with benevolent curiosity. Crowns decorating their graceful heads were only adding value to the overall picture. They made our conversation even more interesting. I had an irresistible desire (just as in my childhood!) to touch them with my hands. It seemed that if I put a few grains in my palm, the birds would accept them as a gift, with gratitude.
"Why so many beautiful regal birds?"
"They symbolise all that is heavenly and supreme..."
"What about these beautiful fish? Are they earthly or marine?"
"Metaphorical generalisation implies everything earthly: rustle of water, sound of surf, breeze. Everything that represents our life on Earth."
“Why do all your creatures, even the smallest pumpkin and the silent fish, have individual faces? Or rather, an expression as a reflection of the inner world...”
“I believe that everything living on Earth is a micro-particle of the Universal Soul. We are only an embodied instant in Eternity. Our life and ourselves are a moment in the texture of linear Time: yesterday-today-tomorrow...”
"So said Kostya Treplev in Chekhov's Seagull..."
"He was preceded by the Sufis and Egyptian priests... For many centuries we, humans, have been in the age of infancy..."
“Do you share the view of modern esotericists that the pandemic is a test of humanity's spiritual strength?”
“Yes. I'll say more. The pandemic has not only exposed hidden sores in the spiritual body of humanity. For many, it has opened the door to creativity.”
"And how do artists survive in a pandemic? In fact, there are no exhibitions, no orders...?"
"It's difficult. An artist needs feedback from his audience. The energy of artistic thoughts must be reflected in the audience."
"What about your customers?"
"It’s the same."
"No exhibitions – no customers. It seems to me that the number of people appreciating beauty in the visual and applied arts has decreased."
"I think it is all about a shift in aesthetic preferences."
“Well, ask yourself why the number of people who prefer lavish gourmet tables to artistic beauty is increasing.”
“I haven't thought about it. Cult of food? Desire to socialise at the table because there is less socialising in real life because it is being replaced by social media?”
"That too. But the tradition of direct contact between the viewers and the artist has also weakened. There is a decreasing number of exhibitions, which is not a good sign."
"Maybe the phone that your Violetta uses to talk to the Universe will become a Guide, a means of feedback and..."
“Violetta gets information from there on how to transform the world into a spiritually beautiful place.”
“What will people be supposed to do if the Universe does everything for them?”
“Telephone is an architect who can give a person an idea of how and what needs to be done to make the world a better place than it is.”
"Do you have a new idea for an image of an object that symbolises the spirituality of man?"
"Oh yes! Here is the lady called Cello!"
"Because I feel in it so much power and strength of energetic vibrations spilling out into the world with wonderful cleansing music that I don't feel in any other instrument. Maybe a violin..."
"How do you live in an artistic space that you have created yourself, where everything is infused with the energy of metaphorical thought?"
"It's a wonderful way to live. It relieves me of sadness, mental anguish and worry. Finally, it clears away mental imperfections and emotional breakdowns."
"Is space sacred in content and essence?"
"I think you felt it yourself too."
"What would you like to wish your fans and readers of our magazine?"
"To live positively, not to let negativity into their lives and souls. Neither in their thoughts, nor emotionally. This lowers human vibrations and throws us back into the past. It is our Spirit that is the key fighter who struggles for Man and his Humanity, hence our soul, positivity, creation. This is the only way we can overcome the negativity that comes to us from under the rubble of the old world..."