…An even more complex case is Saule Suleimenova, who creates multisemantic works based on experiments with grattography, applied to modern and archival photographs mixed with painting. In her series I am Kazakh (2010), she attempts to carefully release the forgotten and suppressed impulses and sensations of the beautiful, to give people back the flavor of life and their self-respect. In doing this she acts on a different level from more detached conceptual art, interpenetrating rationality with emotions and spiritual element. She is trying to “reconnect and reconcile the traditional Kazakh culture and the aesthetics of revolt, the modernist artistic devices, the pathos of eternity and the poetics of everyday” (Suleimenova 2010). For her the main problem of contemporary Kazakhstan is an inferiority complex, a colonized consciousness grounded in a painful self-reflection, typical of young postcolonial nations. Through decolonizing visuality and, particularly, notions of the beautiful, Suleimenova attempts to teach Kazakhs to unlearn their desire for those lacquered ersatz things they were taught to like and appreciate as beautiful, and as their own. She wants to decolonize their idea of Kazakhness and free it of the bombast that is so pervasive in official state aesthtics.
Suleimenova (re)visits many versions of the past and present that are unstable, changeable, and yet retain certain recurrent and always recognizable and reconstructable elements. Such are her recent works for the international project Ultra-Memory (2012), on the verge of painting and photography, past and present, and the rational and emotional (beautiful and sublime), to produce a sensibility freed of any binding aesthetic canons and coming as much from the heart, from the childhood, from the soul, as from a conceptual analytical interpretation of an aesthetically shrewd individual. She superimposes another Kazakhness (unofficial and uncombed) onto today’s third-class (post)colonial modernity, producing a shocking and sobering decolonial effect.
Saule Suleimenova is a visual artist and she works on the edge of different techniques and media including painting on photography, wax on paper and has been working with plastic bags collage, cellophane painting for over last 5 years. She has a strong social impact in Kazakhstan, she takes part in educational, ecological and other social events. Her work was exhibited at ‘Self’ Festival of 56th Venice Biennale, Manifesta 11 in Zürich, Second Moscow biennale, Christie’s auction in London, U.K., East of Nowhere exhibition in Turin, Foundation 107, One Belt One Road exhibition of Hong Kong Women Federation and many other local and international projects.
Starting her work with searching post colonial identity in the series as Kazakh Chronicle, I’m Kazakh she reveals her idea as well in public talks and articles. Now Suleimenova discovers a new line – Cellophane Painting where she raises a question about plastic pollution of the steppe of Kazakhstan and calls to clean and collect all the used plastics there. She continues the Kazakh Chronicle series not with artistic materials but with used colored plastic bags.