La Makan. COSMIC CORPOREALITY
Exhibition of Aigana Gali and Gulnur Mukazhanova
19th September - 15th October 2023
Ainalaiyn Space and Three Highgate are proud to present La Makan, COSMIC CORPOREALITY, Aigan Gali's and Gulnur Mukazhanova's exhibiton in London.
In his reflections on soul and body, the Kazakh poet and philosopher Abai Qunanbaiuly, does not separate the soul and mind but defines them as one – “I”. In his concept of “I” - if the soul is immortal then the mind too becomes eternal. Abai, continues this thought in Word Twenty-Seven of his best known body of work, The Book of Words, a collection of poems and theological and philosophic treaties. There he defines a place of dwelling of the soul and mind – ‘la makan’ – the place outside of human perception of space and time.
La makan, might bring an idea of an infinite universe, the cosmos. This mysterious space captivated and inspired many human cultures from the scientific, as well as philosophical, spiritual and religious points of view.
Cosmos has always played an essential role in the daily life of Central Asian nomads. They had to know the night sky and read it as a map to find directions, but also follow the movements of the Sun, Moon, Earth, and Jupiter to understand the changes and its effects on nature. The philosophy of nomads was to be at one with nature, with the universe, which reflected in their worldview, Tengrianism, worshipping of the Sky deity Tengri, the Mother Earth Umai, and ancestral spirits.
In this exhibition, the works of the two artists, Aigana Gali and Gulnur Mukazhanova, derive inspiration from and illustrate this complex relationship of micro and macrocosms. In conversations relating to their creative processes, Mukazhanova and Gali often mention the connection with ancestors. The connection points or “portals” can be vividly seen in their works - whether in Mukazhanova’s portal shape of the work itself or the rectangular or circular shapes and details that are often present in Gali’s works.
Mukazhanova prefers to work with tactile mediums, fabrics, and Kazakh traditional organic material, felt. These mediums allow the artist to expresses haptic sensibility, apart from the visual sense of play of light and shadow.
Felt, a textile made of animal hair, had a particularly important meaning for nomads, whose way of life has always been caring towards, and at one with, nature. It was used almost everywhere, in making their clothing, their bedding, their homes (yurts). Yurt is both a life-sustaining membrane that protected nomads from the element and a sacral space, the vertical coordinate between Umai (Mother Earth) and Tengri (Sky). In the sculptural works of Mukazhanova the choice of this uncanny material is not accidental.
Then the alchemy happens, the magical transformation from the softest wool to the thick state of felt that again is being created by the body(hands) of the artist. This is not only the physical transformation that happens to the medium, it is also the internal transformation of the artist, the psychological state to which artist gives a shape. The photograph below shows one of the several objects of installation where Mukazhanova is using the mould of her own face to create the felt sculpture.
Aigana Gali’s spiritual inspiration comes from the vast steppes of her homeland. The artist spent some time in the western parts of Kazakhstan, where the mystical landscapes enrich the body and spirit.
In the case of Gali, the artist herself could be seen as the portal: ‘I receive information that has to be delivered and expressed onto a canvas, otherwise I won’t find piece’, she says. For nearly ten years, Gali has been working on her Steppe series.
In her new series Cosmic Seeds, steppes did not disappear - they transformed to become the holding space for the cosmic corporeality. There is a universal order in this series that gives the feeling of the unified whole, which is expressed through the symmetry of the geometrical forms and the immersing light that comes from each layer.
According to the psychoanalyst, Dr. Maia Kirchkheli, the unconscious is infinite like a universe, and there are as many universes as people.
The strongest interception in Gali’s and Mukazhanova’s works is that both artists unconsciously create spaces and psychological states, giving, if not a glimpse, a premonition of ‘la makan’.
Notes to Editors
La Macan. Cosmic Corporeality runs from 19 September – 15 October 2023. The exhibition is open Thursdays and Saturdays, 2pm to 6pm, Sunday 12-noon to 4pm, and by appointment on all other days. To book an appointment, please contact email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
The exhibition has been curated by Indira Dyussebayeva-Ziyabek, and produced in collaboration with Irina Johnstone, the founder and director of Three Highgate Gallery.
About Aigana Gali
Aigana Gali (b. 1982, Almaty, Kazakhstan) is a multidisciplinary artist who works across a wide range of media, from canvas and paper to textiles and bronze. Gali holds a BA in Fine Art from Kazakh Leading Academy of Art and Architecture (2001- 2005), MA from the Institute Of Literature and Art, Academy of Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan (2005 - 2007) and a MA from Sotheby’s Institute of Art (2010 - 2011). Gali’s rich cultural heritage is an infinite source for her work. Trained as a painter and a dancer from the age of seven, her artistic sensibility was fine-tuned to the rhythmic character of place, in particular the vibrational quality of light: how the waves bounce or shadows are cast in the shifting theatre of colour. Her work explores some of the deep, recurring themes in art and spirituality, of how we experience the mysterious laws of nature and find our place in the world.
Recent solo exhibitions: Lux Ex Machina, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London, UK (2023), Tengri, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London (2022); Meditator II from Tengri, Light Works, Hamilton Gallery, London (2021); Blue Minds, Blue Marine Foundation, London (2021); “Aral” from Steppe collection, Private Gallery, London (2021); Creation Myth, Saatchi Gallery, London (2019);
Group exhibitions include Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, (2022); Blue Mind Festival, Catherine Prevost, London (2021); Light works, Elisabetta Cipriani Gallery and Stories of Art, London (2021); START ART FAIR, Saatichi Gallery, London (2021); Central Asian Art Fair (2013).
About Gulnur Mukazhanova
Gulnur Mukazhanova (b. 1984, Karaganda, Kazakhstan) is an artist who uses the materials of traditional Kazakh handicrafts to explore the complexities of post-nomadic identities, cultural alienation, and the effects of globalisation. Born shortly before the collapse of the USSR, she was raised in the volatility of the newly formed Kazakhstan. She completed her studies at the Art Academy in Almaty and the Kunsthochschule in Berlin Weißensee. Working in felt, the textile recalls and connects to the origins, traditions and customs of her native country. The artist also works with mass-produced synthetic fabrics that imitate organic silks and were originally acquired from Kazakstan bazars. She creates vivid installations that are precariously secured with pins, raising questions of impermanence, fragility and uncertainty. Being based in Berlin for over 10 years has helped Mukazhanova understand and critically analyse not only the situation in her home country and the Central Asian region, but global issues that are common for everyone.
Recent solo exhibitions: Öliara: The Dark Moon, SOMA Art Space, Berlin, Germany (2023), Öliara: The Dark Moon, Ainalaiyn Space and Mimosa House, (2022), The Space of Silence, Asian Gallery, Almaty, Kazakhstan, (2021), Un-Conscious, Michael Janssen, Berlin, Germany (2021)
Selected group exhibitions include: The Shadows of Hope: Yesterday’s Past, Today’s Present and Clouds, Center for Heritage Arts&Textile, Hong Kong, China (2023), Open Performance, as a part of Davra Art Collective, created by uzbek Artsit Saodat Ismailova for Dokumenta XV, Kassel, Germany (2022), ART from ELSWHERE, Kulturforum Ansbach, Ansbach, Germany (2021), Points of Resistance, Momentum Berlin, Germany (2021)
About Three Highgate
Three Highgate is an art gallery and creative hub based in Highgate Village, an iconic part of London, perched at the top of Highgate Hill and teeming with history and culture. The gallery places special emphasis on development and promotion of both emerging and established artists with a unique and poetic vision.
In addition to its contemporary art programme, Three Highgate also runs diverse cultural Symposia - artist-led gatherings and live events dedicated to theatre, literature, music, dance, film and poetry.
About Ainalaiyn Space
Established in 2022 by Indira Dyussebayeva-Ziyabek, Ainalaiyn Space is a nomadic arts project that showcases contemporary art from an interdisciplinary perspective. The project is primarily based in London but works in collaboration with international organisations and a global community of artists, curators and researchers. With learning, research, and experimentation at the centre of its practice, Ainalaiyn Space’s exhibitions, residencies and public learning programme celebrate the intersections between art and fields such as science, psychoanalysis, performance, philosophy, anthropology and archaeology.