Askhat Akhmedyarov (b.1965) is a renowned multimedia artist from Kazakhstan. He graduated from Shymkent Art College in 1989 and his early career was launched within the legendary avant-garde art group Kyzyl Tractor. Akhmedyarov soon distinguished and established his practice through his unique, provocative voice.
In 1999 the artist was arrested for his first notorious act, ‘Trans-Dialogue with Van Gogh’. Naked, in a crowded, public space in the centre of Shymkent city, the artist covered his body with batter and proceeded to roll in a pile of sunflower seeds whilst referring to himself as a Van Gogh-sunflower. Smothered head-to-toe in seeds, his vulnerable appearance transformed into an encrusted, charred state. This provocative performance shocked audiences. The artist exploits this dichotomy as a metaphorical language to evoke response to social and political injustice and to problems in a country where freedom of expression is limited.
Besides his performance, sculpture and installation works, Askhat Akmedyarov is well known for his ‘barefoot’ acrylic paintings, inspired by his childhood reminiscences when the young artist to be, helped to stamp and apply clay material to the walls of his family Adobe house. This primordial, tactile experience of contact with the elements of earth, water and the warmth of the sun, combined with the artist’s philosophical ruminations about art and freedom of expression, has evolved into powerful, large scale paintings with a sense of strong, unsettled nomadic representation.
Amongst numerous exhibitions and performances throughout Kazakhstan and abroad, Askhat Akhmedyarov’s notable projects include: ‘If the World Changed’, Singapore Biennale 2013; ‘Protagonists’ - Invisible Pavilion of Kazakhstan, during 56th Venice Biennale 2016; ‘The Laboratory of Absurdity,’ Paris art residency project 2016?; ‘Singular and Plural’, solo exhibition Astana National Museum, Kazakhstan 2016; ‘Post-Nomadic Mind’, exhibition, Wapping Power Station, London 2018.
Please, follow the following link for a very insightful short video about Askhat Akmedyarov’s art