Niyaz Najafov

Born in 1968 | Baku, Azerbaijan



1985: Baku Technical School of Physical Culture  

Niyaz Najafov is a Paris-based artist from Azerbaijan working with paintings and sculptures. He was a professional sportsman who graduated from Baku Technical School of Physical Culture and was a trained soldier prior to beginning his art practice. Although never formally studied painting, the artist's interest in drawing traces back to his childhood. Working in sports, Najafov started to be involved in painting as a hobby in 2013, mainly experimenting with oil paint. Within a short timeframe, the artist got recognition in the local art scene, and some referred to him as the next Francis Bacon. In 2009, he represented Azerbaijan at the 53rd Venice Biennale where collector Alberto Sandretti purchased two of his works. His works have been exhibited in prestigious venues both in Azerbaijan and abroad including Russia, France the USA, Germany, and Denmark. and have been held in museums and private collections.

Najafov is inspired by famous painters Paul Gauguin and Francis Bacon and the influence of these painters can be spotted in Najafov’s artistic style. The artist is known for his dark, evocative, expressive paintings that display the dark feelings and emotions of people in a psychologically charged manner. He achieves this with the use of muted and dark colors, expressive brushstrokes, dark shadowing, and displaying his subjects – people in distorted and exaggerated forms and disturbing positions. For his exhibition “Absorb, Adhere, Advance” held in London in 2017, the artist established pieces different from his previous works in terms of both style and concept. Artist painted still-life paintings of flowers on carboard and posters he found. He described it with the term “social art”. He started to produce more art of this nature and placed more than a thousand such small paintings in random locations such as under street signs, in stairwells, or on the walls of buildings in the streets of Paris. Almost like an artistic social experiment, the paintings were waiting to be seen by their encounters – citizens passing, while making the viewer question the relationship between art and its audience. Most of the paintings were taken by people.


Girl with grenade, 2017
Oil on canvas
100 x 80 cm

After the Storm, 2012 – 2013
Oil on canvas

Napoleon, 2008
Oil on canvas
The fallen Angels, 2008
Oil on canvas

On ice, 2008
Oil on canvas
75 x 80 cm

Volleyball in prison, 2011
Oil on canvas
95 x 100 cm