Exhibition overview

Last Saturday I was very happy to see my art lovers, my respected collectors (precious faces!) back in Heusden, I know them all by name, I still remember which work of art, when and even how much it was bought for!

This time we did not meet at Engstraat 6, but in the two unique spaces of my friends and partners Angela and Syfra van de Loo, with whom I share my love for visual arts just as much as with you. Syfra, who is also an art historian and a young collector. She is building her own collection for the art scene in the near future. Our unity lies in the insight that art helps us to endure our earthly life, art comforts and cheers us, art makes us happy because it helps us to arrive at our true selves. True art pushes us into the higher orbit of transcendence!

That is why we have so much admiration for the philosophical and poetic works of film director and artist Raoef Mamedov, treatises that have been given visual form by major photo projects. Raoef Mamedov is an artist who uses the medium of photography and is known all over the world for his Last Supper with the Apostles and even Christ represented by people with Down syndrome.

On the day the war started in '22, at the call of his heart he went to a protest demonstration, just a protest against any and all wars, where he was arrested, beaten and now blacklisted for a visa to any European country. We had to replace warm human communication with a live stream. Raoef was very nervous about this online broadcast. His story was synchronously translated by professional translator and art historian Klawa Koppenol.

Also present was our other favorite author Anwar Abdoullaev. On the floor above we decorated Anwar’s room with recent work!
After the lecture, all guests walked to Burchtstraat 3, to the house called Great Expectations (yes, yes, just like Charles Dickens’ novel), where Raoef Mamedov’s other series could be seen – Playing on the Windowsills, Biblical Scenes and a precious copy of The Last Supper in cabinet size.

Thank God technology didn't let us down, it was Raoef Mamedov's endearing story about life and death, about how by accepting the "Other" you can find the courage of Love and answer the question: who are we to each other and who are we in the sight of God.In addition to the photographic series by Raoef Mamedov and the recent works by Anwar Abdoullaev, there were recent works by Katerina Belkina and two oil paintings by Tania Kandracienka.

You can find the collection in more detail at: https://www.artsy.net/partner/galerie-lilja-zakirova/works

If one of the works has touched your heart, I would like to hear from you, Lilja Zakirova

Lecture and Retrospective Exhibition by Raoef Mamedov

Lecture and exhibition by Raoef Mamedov

Saturday March 23, 2024
at 14:00

In Heusden (at the locations: Botermarkt 19 and Burchtstraat 3)
“I would very much like our meeting to leave an impression,” which is how the internationally acclaimed artist and film director Raoef Mamedov begins and ends his lecture. On the eve of Easter, the artist presents the captivating story of the creation of his “The Last Supper”, which encompasses various themes of the human existence. <click for more>

Again About Time

Dear Art Lover, dear Collector,

With warm, sunny days ahead, I would like to invite you to visit the exhibition Again About Time with the most recent works by Natalya Zaloznaya.

From her new home in Genoa, the artist elaborates as follows: “Sometimes time stands still…or flows out of time. And then you can hear eternity. One day, sitting on a warm summer day and watching the shadows of the leaves on the grass sway under the rays of the midday sun, a strange thought came to me, I thought that the time would come and I would no longer see it, and time would also flow further and the sun’s rays would have exactly the same sway. And everything will be again and again, always.”

There is also a selection of smaller works by Katerina Belkina (including the last available “Greeting the Rising Star”) and Boy With Thorn by Tania Kandracienka.

From the upcoming weekend of May 5 until may 21, the gallery will be open weekly from Thursday to Sunday, from 13:00 to 17:00.

Restaurant VanDijk in Heusden has my recommendation for your possible dinner plans. A special Gallery package has been put together for the customers of the gallery (reservation is recommended and I can of course also do it for you).

I would like to hear about your interest and hope for a sunny reunion.

Breathing Art, an interview by Simon Hewitt

I think you are the gallerist in Western Europe who has been selling Russian contemporary art for the longest – many other galleries have come and gone. 

Oh yes, I feel like an old fighting veteran, I often notice that I’m keeping silent about the year of the foundation – I want to keep up the image of a new, young gallery! In the year one thousand nine hundred and ninetythree (a year after my final move here), I began to participate in art fairs and manifestations in the Netherlands and Belgium, and in ‘96, this led to a large gathering in the gallery and a ribbon of people queuing in front of the gallery door in Heusden as the opening ribbon was cut.

What is the reason for your success, and what do Western collectors like about Russian art?
The reasons for my longevity are many. First of all, this is the genius of my artists, their loyalty to their purpose and trust in me. Friendship connects me  with every artist, no, this is not friendship, this is almost a marriage. And what is marriage, it is love, admiration, respect, money, money, and again money, but most importantly a joint spiritual development.
The location of the gallery is the second reason, yet no less important. The Netherlands! They are so small and so big and always very special. Just 400 years ago, foreigners who visited the Lowlands were amazed at the paintings  on the walls of farmhouses. This means that there is a deep rooted tradition of acquiring a work of art. But I do not aim for the taste of modern Dutch farmers!
And possibly I would not have survived if in 1998 I would not have been invited to participate at Art Basel with the stunning and beautiful photographic series of Rauf Mamedov, The Last Supper. His now world-famous projects with recognizable actors with Down syndrome, brought my gallery into international orbit. All subsequent years, I managed to keep and develop my international relations from little Heusdan, and in 2007, many years of cooperation began with another very talented artist, also working in the medium of photography, Katerina Belkina.

In this historical fortified city, on the facade of my house between the windows of the second floor, the year of construction is 1583. The street is called Engstraat, which can be translated as Narrowstreet, but also as terrifyingstreet as in Medieval times this was the way to the place of execution. If Russian artists ask me where my gallery is geographically, I reply as follows: “In Brabant, near the city where Hieronymus Bosch was born and lived”. “Ahhh!” –  followed by an interjection, —that’s great! And everything becomes clear to everyone.
My personal life, the gallery life, history of the Netherlands, art from Russia, everything is intertwined and everything polinates each other.

Collectors like the individual talent of my artists (like with an accelerated pulse and resonating heartbeat). Only later do they find out that the artist is from Russia or as they say from the post-Soviet area, such as the former professional monumentalist Anwar Abdoullaev, who was born in Uzbekistan.
I think that the collectors like a high dose of irrationality along with an almost messianic attitude to the profession, they like the existential depth: all life is all death, and as a result, the viewer’s approach to Aristotle catharsis.

Also, what do you think about the state of the international market for Russian contemporary art today?

Was there an international market for Russian contemporary art? Is it self-deception? And do we need to strive for a market on the Manhattan model?
In the late 80s – early 90s in the West there was such enthusiasm, curiosity and sincere interest in Russia and the most romantic expectations of the flourishing of Russia after liberation from communism. (Well, the Soviet Union was not mature enough to the phase of communism, but with these subtleties it didn’t bother itself here, communism was fallen and basta!)
The borders opened and the cultural dialogue became many times more intense, but as the brilliance of political fashion diminished, caution increased in the gallery community to the invasion of artists from Russia (or, as they said from Eastern bloc countries). Who wants to freely share their market that was developed with so much blood, sweat and tears? Then, already in pre-crisis times, I began to hear, like a refrain, from especially smart clients: do Russian oligarchs buy the works of this artist? In other words, does this name have a chance of capitalization?

This market appears to have declined over the last decade – do you agree?

In the Netherlands (and in Belgium), the market continues to live and breathe, that is, how elegant it sounds in Dutch – works of art continue to change owners. This process of cultural enrichment will continue, as a change of day and night, regardless of politics, as long as there are special people on earth, the artists. And while there are lovers of fine art. These people have a special organ behind the ears, it is not visible, it is covered with hair. These are the gills that open when contemplating a work of art and transform the sublime into life-giving oxygen. This public cannot live without art.

Do you think the market can grow stronger? If yes, why? 
I do not know how to answer this question. After 26 years of life “in business,” this market seems to me to be more a natural element than a orderly institution. Why? I will answer with the stanza of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin:

Would Desdemona love her moor as
The Moon adores the gloom of night?
Because no wind’s blast, eagle’s flight,
Or maiden’s heart abides by orders …

Because the wind, the eagle and the heart of the maiden are no law.

Heusden, March 2019

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