INTRODUCTION by the curator

The visual arts have played a crucial role in the centuries-old dialogue between Europe and the Orient, initially in documenting nature and lifestyles and later as a poetic and sometimes romanticized, exotic picturing of North Africa and the Middle East. The upheavals of the 20th century—beginning with World War I and the subsequent demise of the Ottoman Empire—forced modern and contemporary art into a more critical engagement with these regions.

Andréas Lang juxtaposes historical Orientalist paintings with contemporary sceneries full of political and social connotations. In his palimpsests, contemporary impressions are superimposed on effaced historical material. While this seductive aesthetic approach preserves most of the mysteries of the Oriental past, it also reveals the conflicts and contradictions of contemporary society.

The artist carried out his research not only in commonly depicted locations such as Tunisia, Turkey and the Persian Gulf, but also in the Southern Caucasus, where the Ottoman and Persian cultures clashed with the Russian and later Soviet sphere of influence, which further produced its own particular form of Orientalism in art, music, literature and architecture.

The exhibition, inspired by Lang’s residency and solo show at the Kulturakademie Tarabya in Istanbul, is a work in progress and will be launched as an online project followed by an “in situ” installation at Kapellhaus Baku. Tours to Tbilisi, Yerevan and possibly other venues are envisaged for the future of the show.

Alfons Hug, Goethe-Zentrum Baku