Ali Shamsi: Rebel with barefoot

By: Amina Nazarli

“Artist from Icherisheher” or “artist with bare feet”, as many call Ali Shamsi, a uniquely creative person living at 84 Little Castle Street in Baku’s Old City.

I promise, you will notice his workshop as soon as you see it, since it is impossible to ignore his amazing facade, attracting one with its specific energy.

His workshop is open to all, who seeing such a mysterious corner wants to find out what is inside.

However, it’s rarely possible to find the artist in his home studio: usually he is either traveling, participating in international exhibitions, or climbing to the next mountain.

Born in a small village at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains on the banks of the river, Ali never knows in advance what he will draw and improvises while creating his pictures.

He lives in perfect harmony with himself and the outside world, and everything that surrounds him comes from trees, as he talks to stones, with which his creativity started.

When he was seven years old, he painted his first naked woman using iron nails on a large river boulder. But in the vicinity of Sheki, where the artist was born, people were very conservative, and when they saw the stone they brought it to the courtyard to his father.

However, his father did not punish the little talent, and ordered Ali to carry the twenty-kilogram stone back and put the picture down.

“If not for my father, who at that time did not go on about those people, I probably would never have become an artist.”

And Ali became a painter, a most unusual one, and women’s silhouettes have since become the most lovely theme of Ali’s, who sees women as completely perfect and unique creations.

“Actually, I compare women with vertices. Just as people conquer Everest, they also conquer a woman. There are many mountains in the world, but Everest is the only one,” he explains.

On the eve of his 63rd birthday, the artist does not consider himself his age and can quietly play football barefoot with the neighborhood boys.

And it seems that everything is just very simple for him; he travels and then paints his impressions on canvas.

This amazing man said that he likes to travel alone. Once, he even conquered the Himalayas and Everest mountains barefoot, so he could learn how he might physically endure the challenge.

Talking about his unusual behavior to walk barefoot, Ali said that each person is an individual and associates such behavior with their rebellious nature. He recalls how, once, during an exhibition held in France, it was snowing and he was walking without shoes. An elderly woman passed by and felt sorry for him, and even offered to help him buy new shoes.

“At first, people pity me, but then gradually begin to see my nature through the prism of my work,” he explains.

His pictures adorn the walls at the homes of many famous political and cultural figures in the U.S., Germany, Georgia and Russia. And some of his paintings were destroyed on September 11, 2001 in America, along with the Twin Towers.


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