Arystanbek Shalbayev is an interdisciplinary artist from Kazakhstan and a member of the Shymkent avant-garde art group Kyzyl Tractor. Shalbayev’s work demonstrates a sharp critical view on the nation’s social climate in the age of rampant capitalism and globalisation. His practice often develops a series of simultaneous pieces that references specific social and/or political issues; these are best exemplified in the series of graphic collages collectively named ‘Tunnel Vision’, together with the series of acrylic paintings ‘Matches-Barrels’. These works reveal the country’s destructive course of a natural resources-driven economy, wealth inequality and a fear-ridden society. In 2013 to 2016, driven by the theme of how extractive technologies continue to cause ecological, economical and spiritual shifts, Shalbayev’s created several sculptures and large scale installations in which he exploits oil barrels with inventive wit. Instantaneously, the work also reflects the reality of how local cultures get eradicated to meet the demands of capitalism. In any media, be it painting, graphics, installation, film or performance, Shalbayev’s work is both visually and conceptually striking.
Shalbayev has participated in many solo and group exhibitions in major museums and art festivals across Kazakhstan, Russia, Europe and the USA, including: ‘Life is a legend’, Strasbourg, France; ‘Limited Liability’, Venice, Italy 2015; ‘Thinking Collections: Telling Tales’ at Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, USA in 2018. He combines his artistic career with teaching at the National Art Academy in Almaty, Kazakhstan.