Ashraf Murad, Niyaz Najafov, and selected artists

22 December 2022 - 3 March 2023 Baku

We are proud to present an exhibition of Ashraf Murad’s selected works on canvas alongside the art of Niyaz Najafov, Shalala Salamzadeh, Nargis Abdullayeva and 665806 (Regina Rzayeva).

Gazelli Art House Baku presents an exhibition of Ashraf Murad’s selected works on canvas alongside other prominent Azeri artists.


Ashraf Murad is one of the great masters of Azerbaijani art in the twentieth century. He made a significant contribution to the development of the culture and became a real source of inspiration for future generations of artists. In his native Azerbaijan, he was never officially recognised during his lifetime, and his first posthumous exhibition wasn’t held until 1984. We now know him as a sensitive realist painter who underwent oppressive persecution under the Soviet Union. As a result, he shifted his style towards narrative paintings, which became dramatic and melancholic, suggesting defiance against the repressive ideology of the state.


Socialist realist painting was established in 1934 and limited all forms of experimentation and political critique, which of course, affected the artistic climate to which Murad belonged. After Stalin’s death, there was more space for developing avant-garde and modernist practices, and engaging with Western influences, and Murad was a key participant in this development. After a mysterious and unfortunate altercation with Soviet police during which Murad suffered an injury, his artwork shifted into a darker, more dissident phase. His palette veered towards dark tones, and he began to use sly symbolism to indirectly refer to the Soviet regime in subtle protest. Because of the suppressive political backdrop, Murad sadly died impoverished and overlooked, but his genius and impact on Azeri art culture are retrospectively acknowledged.