At the Crossroads: Contemporary Art from the Caucasus and Central Asia

'Untitled (from Dreams Series)' by Jamol Usmanov (born 1961), oil on canvas, 2010, 110 x 145cm
‘Untitled (from Dreams Series)’ by Jamol Usmanov (born 1961), oil on canvas, 2010, 110 x 145cm

If you’re up on your Uzbek Usmanov’s, you may well have heard of Alisher Usmanov – the billionaire steel magnate who has successfully diversified into telecommunications and new media, including a clever purchase of facebook shares that, it seems, netted him £1.4bn at their IPO last May. But you may well not have heard of Jamol Usmanov, an  Uzbek painter influenced by Sufi philosophy and the Eastern Sufi poetry of Rumi, Navoi, Nizami et al, although we like to hope he too will become a household name.

Usmanov’s paintings are allegorical, pregnant with meaning, and from the viewer’s perspective, highly meditative. Untitled (from Dreams Series), above, is dedicated to his son, whose dream is carefully encrypted: birds carrying cherries in their beaks are bearers of good tidings, while the snake is a symbol of wisdom, flying birds are incarnations of the soul and the ornaments they carry signify Creation.

The painting is one of 47 works carefully chosen by Sothebys London as part of their first ever selling exhibition from the Caucasus and Central Asia on show from Monday, 4th March -Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at their headquarters in New Bond Street.  The exhibition highlights art that has emerged from the region since it opened up following the collapse of the Soviet Union, with practices stemming from both institutionalised Socialist Realism and Non-Conformist Art of the 1970s and 1980s, right up to contemporary art from the present day.