Ru Az

Silence of speaking images

There is something mystical about the eternal human desire to create their kind – from the ancient, roughly hewn stone craft to a realistic figure...

Author's dolls – volume artistic miniatures, affecting imagination not only by finished details: but also it is impossible to get rid of the feeling that they are alive – here will talk! Perhaps the point here is that these silent interlocutors embody in their stagnation guise whole worldview and philosophy of masters. Member of artists union of two countries – Azerbaijan and Russia, honored worker of culture Elmira Abbasli has been spending 35 years to inhale life and soul into her unique creations.

Elmira khanum, why did you rename your "Leaving City" to the "City, Giving the Force"?

It has been 28 years ... I was anxious because of the changes in our Baku`s look, especially Icheri Sheher, which I am in love with, I grew up there. Changed streets, faces, objects, and  new buildings were built ... And only many years later came the realisation that sometimes it is the changes that can give strength and hope. True love for the city is not limited to attachment to its architecture, it lies in the personal level, at the level of souls, attitude.

Let's then mentally return to that Icheri Sheher, where your story began ...

I lost my mother and father early, but I was surrounded by the most affectionate love I could ever imagine. My beloved grandmother was always there; she has replaced all the parents of the world for me …

Krakow, 1987
At the Biennale of folk dolls, I presented my "N n", made in the image of my grandmother. She was given only the third place - as one member of the jury confessed to me, "for political reasons." Well, recognition was more important to me, and I got my own then. The doll is now  on restoration.

After school, you entered the geography department, and two years later you got married. A young mother, home worries ... What was going on in that period of your life?

I had a hobby: in the intervals between home affairs, I sewed bags, soft toys or something for the interior.
Later I got invited to a toy factory, to work as a fashion designer. For three years we in the experimental department created models that were replicated only after approval. Realizing that the work at the factory only hinders the realisation of my fantasies, which grew like a snowball, I left. And afterwards I got a job at another factory - leather goods. Now I am very grateful to fate for such a beginning of my career: it was the production that sharpened my skills, helped to systematise ideas and more consciously choose the ultimate way of life. Dolls appeared later ...


Really there was no one to teach you to make dolls?
The late Louisa Dagestanli was engaged in dolls, and she created them from wax. I never had time to learn from her; she died after a long illness. In the Abdullah Shaig Puppet Theater, Solmaz Khanym worked, she also made dolls of wax, but she refused to teach me, admonishing me with words about my abilities, which, they say, will help me to learn everything myself. I've been grateful to her all my life for this: after all, a person endowed with willpower and desire, can cope with any situation. All the knowledge necessary for this has already been laid in us, it remains for us to find a way to reach them ... For months I studied our national clothes of the XIX century in the Museum of H.Z.Tagiyev. Having achieved a letter from the Union of Artists, I went to Moscow, to the Sergei Obraztsov Puppet Theater, which I got accepted. Imagine his face at the sight of a young pregnant woman who came from Baku to learn the subtleties of making dolls ?! He was touched by my zeal ... I was given a tour of all the shops, told about the technologies used, and I, pleased, returned home.
A symposium on the art of oriental carpet was being prepared. I received an order for 30 souvenir dolls for guests. For the record, then I was still not doing this business, but, apparently, someone decided that I could manage. How many experiences there were!
I created 30 small dolls in national clothes and realised: this is mine! That's how I started my way in arts and crafts.

How important are the details for you?
Very important! You can consider me a keeper of quality! It's no accident that I studied our national clothes for so long. Here, say, a bafta - a cord woven from a black and gold thread - was an integral part of the national dress. Or tirme - a unique fabric from thin woollen threads.
A shred is now very expensive. The quality of the tirme was tested by its ability to pass through the ring. In the XIX century, all these fabrics and threads were produced in Azerbaijan or brought from India; I also needed to recreate the most accurate copies.

BAKU, 1985
At the exhibition of theatre and film artists, my textile works were presented.
I was able to work out my unique technique for making dolls with particular emotions stuffed with cotton wool knitted cushion - they were images from "Arshin Mal Alan", "Mashadi Ibad", etc. The work turned out to be so elegant that the Ministry of Culture bought them.

Malta, 1986
Preparations were underway for the opening of the museum. It was necessary to send a few puppets in national costumes from all the republics of the Soviet Union. I gladly agreed to participate, even without a fee, although the money was needed. The dolls were so successful that a couple of months later I received a proposal to hold a solo exhibition in Helsinki, where I went with twenty works.


Philosophy, astrology, religion ... Elmira Abbasli is so precise in the details of the dolls but gravitates toward such inaccurate, not thoroughly studied systems of views. What is the reason for this?
What are you! Is it possible to measure Elmira Abbasli with a ruler and a compass? Never! Yes, there is me, no one can be evaluated, comparing with some prescribed standards. I can not be called a believer in the sense in which this word is commonly understood. I am a person immersed in an atmosphere of spirituality. I do not perform prayer, but every moment I thank my Almighty. I never liked to say - they say, yes, I created all these works! More often I say that God creates these works with my hands, guiding me through unknown energy or energy unknown to you or me. You are all looking for evidence and definitions, but there are things that you should not experiment with in labs for powerful statements. I believe in what my soul whispers to me. You live your age, requiring verified phrases on paper with a seal in the corner, and I already found everything I needed, and there are no papers, evidence and signatures. The universe is ready to adjust to communicating with any person; it is enough to find contact with it...

You probably decided that I'm talking about the cosmos? No, I'm talking about that universe that's inside every person. Harmony with oneself is and is in contact with your inner world. My search for the correct path somewhere on the side ended on my own. And all those positive emotions that are accumulated during this very spiritual path, I pass on to my creations, and gallery visitors feel it.

BAKU, 1994
Once at the exhibition, my work so delighted one businessman that he expressed a desire to contribute to the development of this art in our country, even offered to create a museum in his room. True, the state of this place was horrible, but I rushed to realise our plan: I just had to understand myself! But it was necessary and be reserved for patience and courage. We did not intend to take the city with this courage, but we had to make repairs. For ten months of exhausting work, I earned a strong allergy and mastered the profession of the foreman, pretty much-patted nerves. But even all in the dust, suffocating from the smell of paint, I smiled and could not believe that all this was not a dream ... In parallel, across the road, I rented another room where, together with my pupils, I created dolls for the future museum. And I achieved the fact that literally from the ashes and ruins appeared something unusual - the Museum of National Clothes and Puppets at the Cesme Cultural Center: perfect cleanliness, fresh flowers on the tables, national music sounds, guests are offered tea and, of course, dolls everywhere.
The new museum was saturated with a delightful Azeri colour. A specialist from the Museum of H.Z.Tagiyev advised us when creating clothes for dolls - we tried not to miss a single detail. For half a year our museum has formed its unique and recognisable image, diplomats and visitors of our city came. We became known in America, France, England ... I remember once having visited the museum, the wife of the Ambassador of England was so delighted that on her next visit she brought me expensive threads for gold embroidery. I loved this museum because I put my soul, strength, all of myself into it ... And three years later I left it forever.


Left? But why?
This is a very long and unpleasant conversation. I will only say that I had to make such a decision. But when I left, I took my invested soul. Look today at this room - more precisely, on what's left of it - and you'll understand what I mean. But do not you think that if the museum were not there, my philosophical collages, the images of Baku, a series of dolls and caskets would not have been born?
Everything went on at home. And now the guests came directly to me, into a small apartment. Although cramped, how much was the comfort, the good, the fun! After all, all these qualities are tied not to the premises, but to individuals. And go along with them ... Depriving, it would seem, your most important asset, do not rush to get upset: most likely, it's your next jump up the stairs, and not down. I remembered long ago the well-known motto: "Pray and work!". What I, in fact, always did.

How do you manage to convey emotions,  looks so realistically?
Now around the world, some masters create hyper-realistic dolls. This is since technology is developing at a frantic pace, outstripping the spiritual development of man, which sooner or later will lead to its self-destruction. While I continue to admire the polymer clay, the silicone is gaining world popularity . If this material falls into skilful hands, dolls from it turn out to be very realistic. You would even come back to look at them again, perhaps not realising that you were not hit by dolls, but technology, your soul, was never affected. You will wait that they are about to speak, but this will not happen, because they are dead, and when you put up with it - leave. I discovered polymer clay for myself in 2003 and used it to this day. When a person identifies himself with the divine energy, which is subject to all, then miracles do not make you wait! You say that my puppies' eyes are alive, although you know firmly that these are just plastic figures. But they can create a dispute with yourself in you, because, being sure that they are lifeless, you can not understand what in them  excites you, attracts you, creates a sense of the possibility of dialogue ... And for eyes I don`t even use glass for eyes, but polymer.


If you print out your work on a 3D printer and put it in the gallery next to the original, what will distinguish them?
A gallery visitor will intuitively reach out to the energy emanating from a doll made by the hands of a person. The work done with love, the parts of the soul invested in them create harmony in space, and no machine will replace it. Besides, stamping is the beginning of the end of all development, this way of creating dolls is not peculiar to me at all. Repeat someone else's or even copy your work - for me, it's like going backwards, and this I hate immensely. Therefore, you will not find two identical jobs for me.

You so often talk about love, share it with family, admirers of your art.
And do you agree that for the work of unrequited love is often more nutritious than mutual love?
Not at all. You are talking about a pure earthly love between a man and a woman. And I prefer to talk about feelings that are beyond the ordinary human union. Being afraid of loneliness, we are so scared of just being alone with ourselves, forgetting that inside us there is a whole world. You know how much love is invested in us by the Highest! And we manage to fill the soul with hatred - a real-life obstacle to creativity. I have never perceived cruelty in art, despite the tendency to consider as genius something that affects the light or dark sides of the soul ... Art is created to make the world better by portraying it, so a person is unable to discern it himself. In the world, there are enough reasons for anger, and creativity should carry love and good. I draw inspiration from the world that is inside me, and in fact, my life is not sugar: there were betrayals, falls, material and emotional difficulties ... But now I take it all as a bitter medicine on the way to shaping the soul and work of my whole life.


Let's return to your dolls. Scheherazade, Favorite of the Sultan ... They have a thin waist, lush breasts, tender faces. Is that your idea of beauty?
Not at all, I have dolls with and without such magnificent forms. In the old days, it was fashionable to pull the chest, which is reflected in my other works, which, I see, have little interest. So the curvy forms are not an end in themselves. In general, I rarely think twice about the doll's parameters, the hands themselves do everything.

By what rules can we better understand your concept work?
I remember in Vienna, a woman, having carefully studied my work with the watchmaker and having read my verse attached to the task, came up and expressed a desire to embrace me. I think she understood everything. But there are those who pass by. I'm not offended, I feel for them perception of time and understanding of my work has not yet come. So there are no specific rules for this, it all depends on the person himself. It is only necessary to know that I do not make a single detail for no reason: all my works are full of symbols, behind which there is a profound philosophical meaning…

"The casket is the mystery of emptiness: on the outside, it shimmers with beauty, but the most valuable is the emptiness - inside it", - your words. Why is emptiness the most valuable for you?
Trying to comprehend this phrase logically, you will not understand anything. Try to listen to my words with your soul. The box is valuable because it can be filled with something. But if you are trying to appreciate the beauty of a full casket, then your view is set up financially. I want to help everyone reach their peak of perception of the world - not only with their physical vision but also, if desired, in other dimensions recognised by the soul. But this is possible! Man is a very complex creature, capable of reacting to everything in the world. How can you think that our body is studied to the end if it has changed for many centuries and continued to improve - both physically and spiritually! There was a quantum transition, directly related to the physics and chemistry of living organisms. Do not underestimate the potential of a person, as well as overestimate scientific laws. Be observant, and not only to the surrounding world but yourself. Look at yourself from outside, know who you are and what you can do, and then, perhaps, you will be able to open the door to your inner world, where there are answers to many questions!