Aidan Salakhova has been labeled an advocate of beauty and a beauty herself for a long time. Both things are true but they don’t really explain what is the essence of her art. Fifteen years ago she made quite brutal paintings with phallic and vaginal images because she wanted to be different. Ten years ago, when Russian radical artists filled every place with genitals and asses, she turned to charming odalisques – to be different again. When critics enlisted Aidan into Neoacademic school, she began making yet another different things. Installations with a live model, a beautiful and seductive odalisque on a table full of fruit; or an empty curtained bath with a very Psycho-like atmosphere; or a painted portrait of the pregnant model with a video of the same model projected on the canvas, galvanizing the painting with suspense. Later on, Aidan made a radical twist to the Muslim roots of Oriental beauty – with a provocative video installation Qabah, where a lovely, sad, joyful, laughing, tempting woman’s eyes looked around from the big black cube energizing the Sufi dancers video projections all around.
With the new exhibition, Aidan revised her beloved odalisque theme. Gorgeous women in classical poses, on richly decorated couches, seduce and please the eye, almost confusing the viewer with the clothed but instead even more desirable and erotic beauty. Being honest and challenging, Aidan adds album-like drawings in Persian style. Women veiled according to Islamic tradition, denude their lower bodies, exposing what men do really seek (no matter how romantic they have always tried to express themselves through poetry, music or art. Here the artist allows herself some straightforward message).
“Habibi” means “beloved” in Arabic, and for Aidan who combines European intellect and education with Oriental origin and character, to love and be loved is the driving force of her art. As famous Sufi poetesse Rabi’a al-Adawiya wrote: “How can I endure the next world without seeing your face?”