Assel Sargaskayeva is a female powerhouse in the corporate world as Chief Financial Officer at K&K GMBH Group of companies in Kazakhstan. With a B.Sc in Banking & International Finance with First Class Honours from City University, Cass Business School UK, who knew she would become a globally recognized fine artist with collectors from the UK, USA, UAE and Kazakhstan.
From the 16th until the 19th November 2023, Assel Sarhaskayeva has unveiled her 1st UK solo art exhibition at V.O Curations Main Gallery in Mayfair which has brought together art collectors, museum curators, and art lovers to view her exhibition Enchanted.
Enchanted explores not only a certain state but a whole turn of time, Assel Sargaskayeva includes the public in the social discourse about the role and influence of women in the past and the modern world. This issue could be studied even further with immersion into the history of Great Britain and its direct influence on the formation of New England: in 1563, Queen Elizabeth of England signed a decree that provided for the death penalty for witchcraft, after which, already under the reign of Charles II, the Puritan part of society was destroyed due to mass persecution forced to emigrate to America, which subsequently also introduced the death penalty, but was still much more humane in its religious manifestations towards women than in Europe.
Almost due to fate Assel Sargaskaeva’s project of exhibitions began in Kazakhstan, continues in the UK, and then will travel to the USA. This sequence allows you to get acquainted with the artist’s work from a philosophical perspective and explore an important problem from a temporal and territorial perspective.
Assel Sargaskayeva’s solo show in London is dedicated to the study of mystical female images, their sacred role in religious cultures, as well as the author’s personal spiritual search. The choice of exhibited objects is based on the concept of the exhibition and makes it logical for all selected works to be present. Assel expresses his personal vision of the problem through this project. However, its understanding may differ from generally accepted views in the West. This will contribute to greater interaction between the audience and the artist and the fruits of her imagination.
The origin story of the correlation between magic and the female image is not often mentioned, however, everyone is familiar with this phenomenon through the arts. The difference lies in the belief in these abilities. The conflict between logical and metaphysical thinking tends to be on people’s minds. Assel Sargaskaeva notices the properties of signs, symbols, and things, explores her feelings, and shares her sensory experience. The name of the project is a symbol of its underlying meanings.
For a long period of time, humanity has experimented with the interpretation of female images. Historically there was devotion to the “disarming” of women, reducing an influence on all spheres of social and political life. One of the most insidious tricks was to impose a connection with the other world. The determinative texts of witchcraft considered women more prone to sin than men. The evolution of human consciousness has relegated issues of religion to the background, and modernity has created new mystical images. Now they are considered a source of strength.
This approach allowed women to find a new sincerity with the space for their ego and alter ego. All those qualities that used to be notorious such as aggressiveness, independence, malice, ugliness, beauty, and thirst for knowledge, became tools for a successful life. Of no small importance in all this is the aspect of martyrdom, the price that had to be paid for independence. Historical events, such as the Holy Inquisition, were a harsh experience for mankind, but as a result, a woman defended the right to life and her own opinion in a patriarchal world.
The visual form of signs and images in paintings, if considered without reference to their meaning, reflects the emotional state of the author. The images themselves are quite expressive and laconic, but in the idle interior space, the artist demonstrates her skill, expressing her philosophy and deep thoughts on the topic of good and evil, birth and death, the principles that determine spirituality with the help of graphic and pictorial means. By playing with the physical properties of art materials on the surface of paper, the artist creates visual connections and enhances the complex appearance of the work. The result of this hand-made, painstaking process makes you wonder: is this a graphic work or a painting?
EB: You were born in Kazakhstan and have worked a considerable amount of time in the UK. How do you feel the two cultures differ in the modern day with views on women and their role in society?
AS: I have indeed studied and worked in the UK. In addressing the question of women and their role in modern society, the trend appears universal – a pursuit of greater freedom. Cultural differences seem minimal in this regard. However, it’s essential to recognize that women inherently possess freedom. If we consider the analogy of a woman being the neck and man the head, this dynamic remains constant. The onus lies on women to harness their capabilities effectively.
EB: What historical moments have influenced your art?
AS: History is my profound passion. To comprehend any significant historical figure, I delve into a minimum of five books by different authors, explore various podcasts, and consult diverse academic sources. Only after forming a comprehensive opinion and understanding of the person or event do I feel prepared to depict it. Notably, I’ve created artworks depicting Sissi (Empress Elisabeth of Austria) and Lavrentiya Beria. Additionally, I’ve penned my insights on the Ancien Régime, encapsulating the entire reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI.
Pinpointing specific historical moments influencing my art is challenging, as it’s an ongoing, perpetual process for me.
EB: When did you start painting and why?
AS: I began sketching in my diary at 15-16, finding it easier to express feelings through drawings than words. Progressing, I took private lessons from various painters, mastering the basics and oil painting techniques over the years.
Initially a hobby for the past 20 years, creating art solely for myself, a wise person remarked that a painting truly comes alive when seen. Realizing the impact of sharing, I decided to reveal my work to the world.
EB: You have an impressive career in the corporate world and finance. Can you explain exactly your role and how you decided to delve into painting?
AS: I have excelled in leadership roles, emphasizing my prowess in fostering consensus within cross-functional teams and maintaining transparent communication channels. Throughout my career, I’ve showcased expertise in financial and risk management, spanning diverse sectors such as banking, oil and gas, gold mining, retail, wholesale distribution, construction, multiplex cinemas, and kids’ entertainment parks. I’m proud of my track record in improving efficiencies, streamlining processes, and enhancing bottom-line results.
On a lighter note, I often share a favorite anecdote: If you ask a mathematician what 2+2 equals, the answer is 4; an economist might say 5, citing synergy in mergers, while an accountant may humorously ask, “How much do you want me to draw?” This highlights the intriguing intersection between the financial and artistic worlds.
Structured by nature, I adopt a unique approach to hobbies. Every three years, I choose three pursuits, aiming for 10,000 hours of dedication to master each. This strategy helps me discern genuine interests. Painting became a lifelong passion after dedicating three years to it at the age of 15. Today, my enduring hobbies include reading, painting, and music.
Assel Sargaskayeva: “The paintings selected for the exhibition include the Enchanted Forest series, The Mystery of the Flying Woman, the Birth of a Family diptych, the mystical Pyramid, and other works. Enchanted is a project that is part of the Silk Road series of exhibition projects, which are dedicated to exploring the problem of a woman’s happy existence and the freedom ofher creativity. All that unites them is the East, my Motherland. Since childhood, my father, and then the whole family, have called me Assel – the Star of the East. For a very long time, I signed my paintings or encrypted messages this way. I think it is important to spread the culture of the East and to bring its zest to the West through my paintings. Each of the exhibition themes of the Silk Road is consonant with my mission – to talk about the importance of balance in relations between men and women, as well as to reveal the value of Kazakhstan’s culture abroad.”