Artist – Epoch – History

Issue #2 • 1184

The intellectual circles of Uzbekistan celebrated the 100th anniversary of the great artist of the epoch having gone in the past, one hundred and thirty years have passed after the death of the great artist of the epoch having gone in the past, one of the founders of the Uzbek painting – Ural Tansikbaev.

In the 20th century, he determined development of national landscape in painting, and in a new century, his anniversary retrospective is one of the most important events binding the modernity with sources of the Uzbek fine arts and reviving succession of art process. In the course of time, a new sense is enriching historical significance of the master, which is determined not only by strong aesthetic influence of his works on spectators, but also by the role, which the artist had to play in art of his time.

Meanwhile, everyone who studied the art of U. Tansikbaev, could notice, that despite abundance of publications, many of them agree in insistent duplication of general estimates, and his evolution as a landscape-painter is “diligently” watered. In general, there is a illusion of full analysis concerning the art of the famous artist, whose works were permanently exhibited and published in catalogues. It seems that nothing remains to study in the art of this “well-studied” master. However, all this corpus of documents and knowledge causes a feeling of some disappointment. The axiomatically written biography has missed internal logic of development, interlacing of ideas and styles, i.e. true problems of a creative way, which Ural Tansykbaev, as any other big artist, had to overcome.

Currently, many things in the art of the master should be newly thought over. First of all, many aspects of his art should be considered from positions of modern, deeper and more expedite, vision of art in general and look at the past epoch, in particular, at the same time, basing on general ideas about evolution of the artist.

Thus, comparing staging works of the artist – “Portrait of A. Tashkenbaev”, “Camping-ground”, “Evening at Issyk Kul”, “Morning at Kairakkum HPS”, “Evening. Highland kishlak” and “My song”, we can easily notice stylistic divergences between early and late art works, which were caused not by ongoing growth of the artist – from novice to the master, but by decisive transformation of the art concept in a whole. These changes generated different estimates – from rejection up to admiration, but always remains recognition of a high art level of each picture. Preconditions lay in a character of Uzbek art development in those years, connected with political and public directives, not without reason. The art of Tansikbaev, as well as of his many contemporaries, is inseparable from the historical context, within which it was formed. However, in order to rationate dialectics of various tendencies in painting of Ural Tansikbaev, it is important to understand, how he had gone through “drama of time and ideas “, how he could keep the best from experience of his youth, while, from time to time, he was strongly recommended just to be taught newly. In fact, many outstanding masters of that generation, when art of Uzbekistan started reorientation to the other aesthetics and art system, failed to find some force for new searches, and for generating of new, individual principles. The artists with experience in avant-garde, which is based on freedom of self-expression, suffered from especially serious problems.

Close studying of U. Tansikbaev’s works of the end of the 1920s – early 1930s allows to note the latent impulses, which gave forces for his further development. Genesis and dynamism of his early style formation can reason a direction of the artist’s evolution. Having finished N. Rozanov’s studio and just for two years having studied at the Penza art school, the artist quickly developed. A combination of many factors and influences caused this phenomenally quick becoming of Tansikbaev towards avant-garde. These are – impressions from the modern European painting, seen in Moscow museums and original experience in combination of avant-garde elements and oriental traditions, which became a real school after his returning home. Atmosphere of discussions, exhibitions, work beside such artists, as A. Volkov, M. Kurzin, A. Nikolaev and A. Podkovirov, which were twenty years older than Tansikbaev and already had their concept of the young art school – all that created conditions for the creative work, dictated by pure internal leaning to innovative searches. The task of the new, for traditional culture of fine arts of Uzbekistan, art formation turned attention of these masters to primary sources of folk art. Their relation to traditions of the East, its colour solutions, to motifs and images, rhythmic and decorative composition of a picture had conscious and creative character, and in the case of such masters, as A. Volkov and Usto Mumin – philosophical.

Later, from “Portrait of A.Tashkenbaev” up to the middle of the 1930s, Tansikbaev had experienced in the major directions of the European painting of the end of the 19th – 20th centuries. Impressionism, which became a necessary stage of each modern artist, Tansikbaev perfectly realized in “Portrait of A.Tashkenbaev”. He learned to render the air, atmosphere rich in colour reflexes and achieved a direct contact with the nature. Taking interest in divisionism (“Caravan”), intensification of a role of colour in the style of postimpressionism (“Purple autumn”) and fauvism (“Midday in the garden”), plasticity of forms close to Sezanne and cubism in pictures (“Pink landscape with the boy”, “Khodjikent”) and drawings (“At hauz”, “Quarter of the old city”), Ural Tansikbaev successfully improved his skills. Being still a student, he reasoned about painting principles and possible ways of development. In 1927, Ural Tansikbaev created the portraits, representing two art concepts: “Portrait A. Tashkenbaev”, impressionistic and another, “Portrait of the Uzbek” – orientally decorative and emblematic.

Currently knowing, that in the 1960s – 1970s Tansikbaev created monumental epic landscapes, we could say, that decorative effect of colour and plane principles of a composition became closest to the artist and deeply penetrated into the essence of his painting for ever. As for his early period, the most expressive poetic realization is typical of the picture “Camping-ground” (1931), where was brightly revealed the national originality – musical and lyrical beginning, love for volumetric development of composition and decorative interpretation of a motif, which further would be kept and advanced within another stylistic system.

Already in the early works, it is possible to notice U. Tansikbaev’s stable interest to all things surrounding, at the same time, no ecstasy concerning the exotic of the past, no stylization. Going from revolutionary romanticism, aspiration to build the better world on ruins of the past determined for ever his love for modernity, developed amazing perceptivity and well developed ability of the artist to adapt the diversified traditions to the modern context, keeping the contact with a reality and not becoming isolated in a circle of subjective senses. Alongside with unique sensitivity, young Tansikbaev brightly revealed the ability, each time adapting the new, to keep it in the actual field of his development for many years. Therefore, we can not find consecutive movement through above said tendencies, all of them coexisted simultaneously. So, in the 1930s, were created impressionistic works, for example, “Plein-air self-portrait” (1935), realistic – “Portrait of A. Podkovirov” (1935), and in a style of neoprimitivism – “The Uzbek. Samarkand” (1934). However, it is important, that development of the artist went in a line with a permanent plein-air work. That is proved by careful studying of the nature – huge quantity of drawings in coloured pencils, Indian ink, aquarelle and gouache. At the same time, they demonstrate that U. Tansikbaev moved from decorative effect of colour to more natural colour. The works of the second half of the 1930s, such as “Brichmulla”, “Bogustan” and “Spring works” revealed that the further way of the artist inclined to the landscape genre. In small works of those years, the artist aspired to monumental generalization of landscape, finding motifs of eternal beauty, what made pictures to sound epically, for example, “In the valley of Chirchik” (1940). This tendency had been just traced in his art, but it would have kept for the next years, completely realized in the 1960s – 1970s. The same features of the artist saved him from empty themes and from the state, which captured the Soviet painting in the 1940s – 1950s. However, in such works as “Song about beloved” and “Native land”, he could not escape from negative influence of the time.

Post-war decade forms one of poor studied pages in art history of Uzbekistan. The tendencies of those years are not still understood fully, the factors and reasons of changes in the art are not revealed, the question, whether the internal art tendencies existed, which led to the principles of realism of the 19th century affirmed in the Soviet art, remains unanswered.

In that period, much in atmosphere of art was reasoned by collective post-war view of life. Enthusiasm was caused by a triumph of the victory, gained by the people. At the same time, development of culture, as never earlier, was pressed by the state, propagating ideology of socialist realism. In this course, high aesthetic and art principles of realism, forming foundation of all world painting were discredited. Characteristic, for that period, troubles of the war and anxiety for normal life, firstly awoke in art sharp aspiration to harmony and optimistic mood. Tendencies to classics, appeared then, very soon led to devaluation of the concepts of true classics. In that period, the ideological program, which major task was maximum isolation of the Soviet culture, as if taken out from a process of historical development, from all synchronous and diachronic cultural ties revealed itself clearly,. The elder generation of the artists of Uzbekistan survived serious problems in searching for new values. Almost all of them were adjudged formalists, even harmless impressionistic etude incurred slashing party criticism. In this period, style solidarity was actively formed. “Head of Uzbek colourists”, as was called Tansikbaev in the 1930s, began searches for his own way, trying to agree aesthetic ideals of his youth and new principles.

Comparison of two works created in 1951, “Native land” and “Evening at Issyk Kul” reveals conflicting aspects in the art of Tansikbaev. They expose a struggle of two concepts – prevailing tendencies of the time with illustrative, excessive development in details and, in general, inconsiderate approach to interpretation of the nature and to searches for deep, philosophically poetic experience. Many contradictions have not been overcome; however, categorical opinion in this case would be simply tendentious. In fact, the further way of the artist represents an enormous intension of talent, powerful efforts to join “starts and ends”, that means to open new opportunities of art perfection. U. Tansikbaev turned to panoramic landscapes. More and more, he was getting interested in exposure of general spaceful aspect. For example, landscapes “Tahiatash” and “Syr Darya”. Ural Tansikbaev stood on a threshold of a new period in his art work, he should have cardinally renovated the Uzbek landscape painting and leaving the limits of a plein-air etude, to create a landscape – picture.

Further, in modern world vision of the artist, leaning to eternal, timeless harmony symbolizing synthesis of the person and the nature became more and more visible. The best landscapes, in particular “Morning at Kairakkum HPS”, demonstrate searches for the universal ideal, instead of the ideological order. Characteristic for Tansikbaev that pictures, not concerning industrial subjects, always remained lyrical landscapes with all specific features of this genre.

In the 1960s – 1970s, the artist created works with relatively free painting interpretation, monumental generalization and innovative colour combinations, which revived the spirit of searches of the 1930s. The pictures “Mountain road Angren – Kokand”, “Qarakul Lake at the Pamir”, “In Belesei. Kirghizia”, “Alay valley” and “Pyandj in the evening” captures by their romantics in feeling of the nature, something heroic and solemn, as well as by expressive simplicity, a force of a colour and again revived wide free brushstrokes. They again, like the early works, demonstrate especially plastic completeness, the feeling of style, inherent to the big masters.

Ural Tansykbaev, as well as the other founders of Uzbekistan painting art, lived in difficult years, when the world suffered from wars and the other dramatic events. The artist did not ignore them, but he opposed them his own belief and beauty in the art. He answered with honour to many questions of that difficult time, and the best works of the artist represent a bright evidence for the outstanding role of this master in history of national culture.

Author: Nigora Ahmedova

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