The snowcapped peaks of Ossetia, part of the giant Caucasus mountain range that stretches across south-west Russia, along the borders of Georgia and Azerbaijan and between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, populate most of Rimma Gagloeva's works. Although not incredibly detailed, the use of colour and texture in her landscape oil paintings conveys an emotion that the artist describes as escapism.
"I spent my childhood in wartime," says the 73-year-old, who is widely regarded as one of the masters of the former USSR. "So nature and peaceful landscapes have been my escape."
From tomorrow, Gagloeva will make her debut in the UAE with a solo show, Spring Blooms, at Alif Gallery in Dubai International Financial Centre.
Who is Rimma Gagloeva?
Born in 1940 in Tskhinvali, in modern-day Georgia, Gagloeva attended Tskhinvali Art School in the 1960s and later graduated from the Tashkent State Theatre and Art Institute. Like many Central Asian artists, her work is figurative rather than conceptual, something that Gagloeva associates with the strong art education structure present across all of her vast native region.
"Central Asian artists generally focus on beauty and figurative language rather than abstraction," she says. "It is all connected with our ancient miniature school which was based on poetry and music." Although she has made a name for herself in regional circles, audiences in the UAE may not be familiar with her work. Natalya Andakulova, the owner and founder of Alif Gallery, says that with the unveiling of Gagloeva's show, she hopes to change that.
Apart from being an escape from the horrors of war that Gagloeva witnessed as a child, she says that the paintings, not only of mountains but also of trees, flowers and woodlands, come from the bottom of her heart. "The Caucasian mountains are recollections from my childhood memories. If you carry something inside your heart throughout your life, it becomes a significant part of who you are. I love to depict nature in its beauty. In my mind every season has its own particularity and I try to show these little variations in all my work," she says.
The bigger picture
Andakulova says that exhibiting Gagloeva, whom she describes as an "amazing artist", is all part of the bigger picture to educate audiences about art from her part of the world.
Spring Blooms is only the third exhibition for Alif, Dubai's newest gallery, and already one of the gallery's artists, Timur D'Vatz, has been selected to participate in a project with Christie's Dubai, the proceeds from which will go towards the UN World Food Programme.
"I chose Dubai because it is a city of many cultures that coexist in harmony and prosperity," explains Andakulova of the opening of the gallery in January.
"Besides, we share a lot of history, religion and ancient traditions with the region. It is important for me to create a closer merge between our cultures and share with people here the energy and beauty of Central Asian nature, heritage and history through the eyes of our artists."
Spring Blooms runs from April 22 until May 22 at Alif Gallery, Damac Park Tower, DIFC
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