Lot 6
  • 6

Toghrul Narimanbekov

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  • Toghrul Narimanbekov
  • Gazelle Hunt (From Dede Gorgud Illustrations)
  • signed and titled on the reverse
  • oil on plywood
  • 99 by 179cm.; 39 by 70 1/2 in.
  • Executed in 1974-1975.


Private Collection, Baku

Catalogue Note

Best known for his monumental murals and set designs, Narimanbekov’s art can safely be called the epitome of quintessential Azerbaijani painting. His paintings have given life to legends, folk tales and ancient traditions in the imagination of people striving to explore their national identity during the last decades of the Soviet rule. His vibrant colours and energetic style gained him widespread popularity and he was awarded the State Prize of the USSR in 1980. The artist’s work famously embellishes the walls of the Azerbaijan Parliament Hall (1980) and the Puppet Theatre (1975), Baku.

Narimanbekov has decorated the stages of many important theatre productions, such as 1001 Nights (1980), a ballet by Fikret Amirov at the Opera and Ballet Theatre in Baku; one of the best in the USSR at the time. Gazelle Hunt, presented here, is a very rare surviving example of such set design. It is the only remaining of the three panels used for the film set of Dede Gorgud. This popular 1975 film directed by Tofiq Tagizade was based on the ancient epic containing tales of bravery, love and mysticism that together formed an important part of the cultural heritage of Turkic nations. The narratives dating from the 15th century still act as sources of mystical inspiration in Azerbaijan, Turkey and Uzbekistan. 

The hunt depicted in this painting is set in an oneiric landscape of fluid forms with dark figures, either forest creatures or fellow hunters, observing the scene. Clad in traditional hunting attire, the figure here is a symbol of masculinity and bravery. He is juxtaposed with a dainty gazelle that traditionally symbolises feminine beauty. As is characteristic of Narimanbekov’s oeuvre, this work is painted with long, free-flowing brushstrokes reminiscent of Western Expressionist painting. It represents an emotive and passionate rendering of an Orientalist tale that provokes multiple readings, dualisms and sub-narratives.