Lecture and Retrospective Exhibition by Raoef Mamedov

Gallery Lilja Zakirova and Syfra van de Loo invite you to:

Lecture and Exhibition by Raoef Mamedov

On 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 imprint,” 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.

Mamedov’s photographic series – Plays on the Window Sills, The Silence of Mary, Biblical Scenes and a collector’s edition of The Last Supper, are exhibited in the two highly unique spaces: The Land of Promise and Great Expectations.


  • From 14:00 we welcome you to The Land of Promise at Botermarkt 19 for a lecture with an illustrated presentation. Raoef’s story will be translated synchronously by art historian Klawa Koppenol (Russian-Dutch). The lecture starts at 14:30 and lasts approximately 1 hour.
  • Together with Raoef we then move to the Great Expectations building, two minutes away, at Burchtstraat 3, where the artist will give further personal notes on the works exhibited there.

You are familiar with our hospitality but RSVP desired:
lilja@zakirova.com / +31 (0)6 51193831

Take a look at the available works of Raoef Mamedov on the international art platform Artsy. Private viewing possible by appointment.

Also a small preview on YouTube.

Games on the Windowsills by Raoef Mamedov

In the recently very stylishly restored Great Expectations House during the Monuments Day on 9-10 September 2023 in Heusden.

“And suddenly strangers appear, people clearly not from here. Clowns or wandering actors that play us scenes as strange as themselves. The pieces somewhat embarrass us right-thinking spectators. Perhaps we recognize ourselves in it, it’s like looking in a mirror. Yet we don’t want to get mad at these traveling artists, they’re just jesters after all… But wait, what happens now?”, so begins an accompanying text by the photographer and film-maker Raoef Mamedov about this five-part exhibition, which again features people with Down syndrome.

The photos, which testify to a fabulous technique and great theatrical ability, fascinate through a Caravaggesque interplay of light and dark and razor-sharp realism.
Mamedov was inspired for these photos by works by Hieronymus Bosch, while retaining the composition of ‘The Last Supper’, which is also shown in a smaller format at the exhibition. The game of citing and alluding to art and cultural history gets a surprising sequel with this work.

On either side of the central panel, which shows the master magician, are two panels, each with three ‘actors’ who confront the audience with human vices such as the folly and credulity, the greed and allurements of the game. The artist depicts the subjects in such a way that recognition of form and confusion about content begin to compete for priority with the viewer. Does Mamedov make us a voyeur or is he holding up a mirror to us? In any case, he creates the suspicion that for this artist there is a deeper layer beneath the absurdities of existence more than plausible.

This exhibition by the internationally acclaimed artist Raoef Mamedov is the promising start of the collaboration between Great Expectations Art Projects and Galerie Lilja Zakirova in Heusden, the city with rich historical and cultural traditions.

Great Expectations Art Projects
Burchtstraat 3
5256 EB Heusden

After this weekend the exhibition can be viewed on appointment: +31651193831

Interview with Raoef Mamedov for Jewish.ru

May 2023

Why he went through the hell of a mental institution, how he sold his work to tycoon and collector Boris Berezovsky and why he photographs people with Down syndrome – the artist Raoef Mamedov told Jewish.ru in an exclusive interview.

Your creative biography began with the movie “Island of Lost Ships”. Years later, of course, it seems very naive.

  • We started shooting this movie back in 1986. Perestroika was only just accelerating and the legacy of the past was still strong and tangible. And with my co-director Yevgeny Ginzburg we decided to go a little crazy and completely rewrote the script bought by “Lenfilm” based on the novel of the same name by Alexander Belyaev. After the release of the movie, the official press even denigrated the picture in the spirit that “this is an undermining of our foundations, there was no such thing in the book.”
    But for us, this work was a breath of freedom! The result was a movie about totalitarian regime and freedom, where the “Island” is a model of society. And the character Sholom, played by Konstantin Raikin, was indeed in some ways a naive, kind and honest man who was the conscience of the islanders. Although at the same time was a confidant of the governor. The movie, by the way, was specially shown on Easter night – the television management decided that this was the best “medicine” to distract people from going to church.

With such a successful start in movies, why did you quickly quit directing?

  • That’s not entirely true. I still make a lot of documentaries. It became difficult with feature films – there was a worldview mismatch. And with Ginzburg we then made another two-part film “The Girl from Rouen, nicknamed Boule de Suif”, after Guy de Maupassant, which, like “The Island of Lost Ships”, was awarded the “Silver Rose of Montreux” at the festival in Switzerland. I was not allowed out of the country there, by the way – it was only 1989.
    But perestroika was now in full swing, and I naively decided that it was time to make a more conceptual movie. Ginzburg, to whom I am sincerely grateful, and I saw the place of cinematography differently at that time, and we diverged somewhat. And that’s when I had a sense of desperation. At that moment, I was very much concerned with the theme of people’s otherness – after all, even before VGIK (Film Academy in Moscow), I had worked in a psychiatric clinic in Azerbaijan.

What did this experience give you?

  • A very important sense of time, because I plunged into hell and then came back from it, like Odysseus from Hades after communicating with the soul of the soothsayer Tiresias. To this day, some of the images I create still come from there, from the clinic. I was an orderly in a God-forsaken ward, where the most hopeless patients were hidden, literally in confinement. They lay there for 30-40 years, no one would come to them, they were not taken for walks, they did not remember what the sun was. It was a netherworld. In short I longed for work, and that’s when I remembered how during my military service I worked as an artist in a unit, drawing posters – all in the style of Social Realism. And I decided to return to artistic experiments.
    Of course, I was also influenced by the work of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s “Capitalism and Schizophrenia”. I was pleased and encouraged by their basic postulate that only schizophrenics can be both the subject and the object of art! The discovery was on shaky but fertile ground: unlike paranoia, schizophrenia can be very light, fun and creatively productive. I worked with people with this diagnosis in my art. I also use people with Down syndrome. I never call them ill. They’re just other people to me. Their otherness, their encounters with the outside world, that’s what is interesting.
    And it is also important to remember that no matter how well-meaning and hypocritical people are, the most important human problem is the theme of death. It haunts us everywhere, including in art. Art is a sublimation of the fear of death. I think that’s the most accurate definition of it. And these people in the clinic have no fear of death! They don’t understand what death is. We, the people on the other side of the whitewashed stone fence, have such a desperate and subconscious fear. It’s funny, isn’t it? It’s actually quite disturbing to me. Maybe these people from the clinics can help us, in a healthy sort of way.

How did your work appear at the Museum of Modern Art in Israel?

  • It was in 2000. At that time, the Berezovsky family purchased and donated my “The Last Supper” to the State of Israel. At that time, this work was already a colossal success at an international art fair in Basel, where it was presented by Gallery Lilja Zakirova at the main venue for contemporary art in the world.
    I suspect, like many, I have a lot to do with Jewish people in my life. Including the story of my really big success. I had my first exhibition in the Netherlands, and there was a huge queue at the gallery, and late at night a charismatic elderly Jewish man knocked on the door of the gallery and gave me a pair of fine designer shoes. As it turned out, he was the owner of the shoe store across the street from the gallery. That day he had the kind of business he hadn’t had in a year, so he decided to thank me.

Most of your works are on biblical themes. Why is that?

  • It’s from my childhood. I lived in the provincial Azerbaijani town of Gandja. Where my nanny, aunt Nastya, was an Orthodox Christian who always dragged me to church. Besides, artists should start from big stories. And biblical stories are such meta-histories. I mean, we’re all picking up the pieces of a broken mirror. And don’t think that biblical narratives are just beautiful tales from the past that have nothing to do with us. The same biblical collisions are in our every deed, in our every action.

Your paintings can be unsettling to the untrained viewer. Have there been protests against your exhibitions?

  • Yes, from time to time there are problems. For example, there was Deacon Kuraev, who, under the toga of sincere indignation, called to gather and physically disrupt my next exhibition. Allegedly, my works were a mockery of Christianity. I have no such thoughts.
    But after Kuraev’s incitation, the crowd had the expected reaction – to chop up my works with axes, kill me at the same time, and wrap my body in pigskin. It got to the point that on the eve of the exhibition I had to hide my children in other people’s apartments. And that’s surprising, because I’m not trying to make jokes about Christianity. On the contrary. And in the Netherlands, my works are even exhibited in cathedrals and monasteries.

Do you work with American galleries?

  • At one time, but for a very short time, I worked with Bruce Silverstein, who is a big gallery owner in Manhattan. He even bought some of my work and wanted to collaborate with me. But I confess I was afraid. After all, in Russia I work with everyone on my word of honor, as is our custom. But there, the American system is different. They brought me a voluminous contract which I had to sign. And in it, for example, it said that I had no right to disappear from the gallery’s sight for more than three days. And if I drew something, even on a napkin in a café. – it belonged to the gallery. I can’t give that napkin to anyone. It was all very tense, so I didn’t sign the contract.

Getting back to the topic of people with otherness: you described your experiences in a mental health clinic as an experience of being in hell, but what about that hell?

  • I am an opponent of clinics. Those who are diagnosed with schizophrenia should be let out of there immediately. We need to set these people free. I once wrote a story called “Dedicated to a Friend.” According to this story, working in the clinic, I was supposed to release a man, but I did not dare: I was afraid that he would not survive among healthy people. And this cowardice, which I fell victim to, tormented me, did not give me peace. After this incident, I wrote a statement and left the clinic. So, my work is also an escape from guilt.
  • Mikhail Chernov, journalist, Jewish.ru

For the entire “The Last Supper” project and accompanying novelle please click here.

Group Exhibition – Re-Opening

Anwar Abdoullaev, Zwaluw, 26×22, od



1 May 2021 –  16 May 2021

A wide palet of recent works by Anwar Abdoullaev, Katerina Belkina, Raoef Mamedov, Lusia Popenko, Natalya Zaloznaya and a selection artists from the Social Realism period.

Group Exhibition – A Midwinter Night’s Dream

A Midwinter Night’s Dream”


18 December 2020 – 5 April 2021

Dear Collector,

Allow me to bring to your attention a short cinematographic overview of the new exhibition, A Midwinter Night’s Dream. A groupexhibition of 25 artworks (enriched with music and sound) of different artists from the gallery.

Deep in our heart, me and my artists, feel our work is a bare necessity of life. And as you know I am not a shop but a small art temple that is accessible at all times. Besides, as a Dutch citizin, I am allowed two guests, on appointment, in a safe environment and with all due respect to the measurements.

The complete catalogue with more details (titles, sizes and prices) of this collection as well as a virtual viewing room can be found at the international art platform Artsy:

Group Exhibition – Bienvenue!

With a strong conviction on the indispensable importance of art (especially when created by my artists!) the Gallery will spring to life again on May 11th with the
announcement of the new exhibition


From May 14th to June 20th 2020

Together with the works from the Garde Impériale: Anwar Abdoullaev, Katerina Belkina, Igor Tishin, Raoef Mamedov and Natalya Zaloznaya, I proudly present a new name – Tania Kandracienka (a young Belarus artist).

I look forward to your visits, as you know my Gallery allows 1,5 meter conversations and viewings. (also possible on appointment)

Solo Exhibition Pieta by Raoef Mamedov

8 February – 8 March 2020








The photographical series titled Pietà (2005) by Raoef Mamedov forms the closing of his trilogy which started with The Last Supper and The Games on the Window Sills.

It is no secret that the main theme of the Pietà – the grieving after Christ has been taken from the cross – has often been depicted by many different artists, with which each artlover is familiar. The cycle here displayed by Raoef Mamedov is flooded with quotes. Besides references to the Pietà there is also a clear homage to the famous painting by Rembrandt, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp.

It is perhaps superfluous to mention that, just as before, the artist used people with Down’s syndrome to pose for him. Within the supposed contamination of the interior of an operating room and a anatomical cabinet the actors illustrate, dressed in medical uniforms, a new lecture of an old story. The visual quotes in the work are like the splinters of one large transcript.

The wealth of metaphors and echoes of meaning guide the more experienced viewer to Mamedov’s beloved theme of the so-called ‘schizoanalysis’, as described by the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. According to this doctrine the diseased society is meeting resistance by a group of outcasted individuals (who are placed in one group together with criminals and artists by Deleuze and Guattari). With their whole being they express their skeptical views on the exclusiveness of the ruling standards, language and logic.

Within the frameworks of this ‘schizofrenic discours’ the characters bring us closer to the intriguing theme of the definition and the comprehension of the self through the other. The carnivalesque aspect of the depiction, his deviation of the original and the parodying tone reveal the weak spots and shortages in a worldview that once made sense. At the same time the allegoric level of the presentation draws our attention inward to our own thoughts and identity.

Mamedov renounces every tendency towards standardization. Using his actors he allows the viewer access to ‘fragmented truths’. By the childlike innocence with which the characters play the staged mystery, we are forced to think about the potential quantity of possible interpretations. Their natural naivety attests an entire layer of reflective skills that are unknown to us. Together the people with Down’s syndrome form a choir that brings dissonants in the original monopoly of the standard reading of cultural codes.