Coming from an environmental technology background, artist Elnara Nasirli finds inspiration in biotechnology and mixed media. She creates biomorphic worlds through the use of unconventional materials in her paintings, sculptures, collages and installations. Here, Maria Webster speaks to Nasirli about the development of her artistic career
Baku: Have you always been an artist?
Elnara Nasirli: In heart I have been an artist since birth. Creating was always a part of me.
Baku: Where do you find your inspiration to create?
EN: Every piece I create is a limitless world, however, inspiration depends on the series. For example, in my tondi, or circular pieces, the circle is a continuous line with no beginning, end, corners or divisions. The circle represents the life-force or spirit that keeps our reality in motion, eternal rebirth. The wave series represents my fight and victory against chronic pain that I struggle with every day. All the series this year are collaborations and abstract portraits – in which it is the energy of the people I meet that inspires and determines the shape and colours of my work. I am merely a vessel of communication of their energy.
Baku: What are your methods and materials, and why have you chosen them?
EN: I use mixed media in my work. I have a chronic condition, and I work with the medium I am able to use at that given moment. I enjoy working on big pieces the most, so when I am able to physically handle a 7-metre painting – I am happiest.
Baku: You described having to wait 20 years to paint professionally – how do you think this has impacted your art?
EN: The fact that I was not allowed to paint professionally, due to family circumstances, for almost 2 decades has given me time to mature. It feels like I was a dormant volcano for all that time. Now it is a whole other story of release from all of that suppressed self-expression.
Baku: How do you think your style and work have evolved over time?
EN: It’s a constant ongoing process of metamorphosis. My style evolves with the human condition.
Baku: What advice would you give to other young artists who have been through the same experiences?
EN: I believe every artist has their own path. Whatever the experience, they must share their own journey honestly and wholeheartedly for the viewer to be able to feel the artwork.
Baku: What projects do you have on the horizon for next year?
EN: I have one more personal exhibition planned in Tbilisi, Georgia at the end of the year as well as numerous group exhibitions and collaborations in Europe.
Baku: Where can a visitor to Baku see your art?
EN: My current exhibition is at Kvartira 74, till the end of March 2023 – Surf: wave explorations.
Waves vary in their size and strength depending on conditions, which constantly change. In life we are faced with ever changing conditions that will impact the way we behave. We can’t stop the waves from coming, but we can choose which ones to surf and which ones we have to allow to pass. Just like the abyss of the ocean our inner darkness can feel deep and endless. Like a wave we break into a billion pieces, then rise again. If you enjoy the challenges as much as the highs of life – then you gain the whole human experience of being alive. Waves and organic shapes appear consistently in my work, which mirror the close connection between my art and the physical ups and downs of my condition through dynamic movement. It makes my art unique – flowing and changing as my body does.
Whether turbulent waters or the dead calm sea, whoever views my paintings will ride my waves. There are also limited seasonal pieces I make for the Soroka store, Gazelli. And there is my giant dancing Berimbau piece at the Gazelli Cafe.
Baku: Who are your favourite living artists?
EN: Henrique Oliveira, Yayoi Kusama, Aidan Salakhova and Kennedy Yanko to name a few.
Portrait photo by: Adil Yusifov
Online Editor: Candice Tucker