Many years ago two talented men met – artist Ruzy Chariev and singer Batyr Zakirov. Chariev drew the picture of the popular singer thus immortalizing his image. Zakirov wrote a literary portrait of the famous artist titled “Every Day is the Day of Creation” that was published on the 24th of September 1976 in the then popular newspaper “Sovetskaya Kultura”. In 2006 artist Ruzy Chariev would have celebrated his 75th anniversary and singer Batyr Zakirov his 70th. In the memory of these wonderful people the journal Editors offer this publication to the readers.
Fergana Valley is clad in its spring-time attire, like a young bride. It is all aglow with carpets of tulips spread over the hills. This is how spring was pictured by the artist Ruzy Chariev whom I once met in Fergana. I was there on a concert tour and he arrived to paint his canvas. I remember my comrade, the pianist, asking, “Who is he? Such an unusual person!”.
Chariev leaves an extraordinary impression with everyone who does not know him or sees him for the first time. He gave me the same impression too when I first visited his studio. Before I had time to enter, he, neglecting the formalities of Uzbek hospitality, immediately grabbed his brushes rushed to the easel to paint my picture.
And here is where this “unusual person” revealed himself. There began some kind of tumult and witchcraft, accompanied by abrupt and emotional movement of arms and his entire corpulent body. Enthralled and enchanted, there I sat, not daring to miss any single burst the artist made.
With joy I realized that I was a happy witness of the mystery of creation and the moments of true inspiration. I saw his eyes – keen and inquisitive that shone with the concentration of a researcher, the joy of a child and the dawning of a discoverer.
He was also a tireless and loud talker. He was asking me about singers, concert tours, songs, music… “Hendel! Bach! Mendelson! They are the titans! If only one could embrace them and understand how the art is created. And Caravaggio? Botticelli? Leonardo? And the frescos, frescos in Penjikent? In Sikeiros? If only one could come closer to them, even for a moment! In this world one has to work, work and work some more!”
Thus he exclaimed while vigorously wielding his brush. And then, all of a sudden, he started singing – loudly, merrily. He sang opera arias, Uzbek folk songs and some vocal pieces that only he knew what they were.
I probably sat there for quite a long time, because Chariev had a chance not only to make a drawing, but also to set the under-painting of the future canvas.
I worked a lot with composers, I witnessed the birth of the song, I watched a director conducting rehearsals, the process of film-making, and I traveled with artists for the studies, but never did I have an encounter like that. At that time I discovered Chariev the artist, obsessed by art, avid for creative action and fanatically devoted to the palette and easel. Yes, he is unusual or appears unusual, because continuous artistic excitement does not let go of him. He is constantly engulfed in his work.
His studio is not just four walls housing an easel and canvases. It is also streets and houses he visits, it is the towns and villages of Uzbekistan, it is his encounters with people and countless journeys he makes.
Chariev paints and draws everything, about everything and all the time. He cannot do without it. He is not himself without it.
This is what he says about himself: ‘I am a young artist’. Young, because he is always learning, for he believes that what he painted today is a step towards tomorrow. Tomorrow is a step leading to the day that follows, to something, which is yet to be discovered; discovered and told about with delight in his bright, joyous, kind and humane paintings.
He contemplates all phenomena of life through the prism of creativity. He is convinced that everybody needs art. He urges everyone to always love painting and to cultivate in oneself a skill to see and understand it.
‘Why don’t you visit us in our studios? Why don’t you look at our work, talk to us, argue with us?!’, he keeps saying at every meeting with poets, actors, film directors.
His favorite aphorism is this: ‘Painting is a beloved sister in the family of arts’.
During the next session of working on my picture, Ruzy told me that even before our first meeting he had been watching me closely, attended my concerts, made sketches, listened to my records – so to say, gathered his own material about me. Indeed at that time I saw that the artist’s work on the picture is first of all a painstaking work, the work of a researcher. An artist has to learn everything about a person, get an insight into his thoughts and activities. Even to love him! Only then an artist takes to his brush and colours. This is how I witnessed the creation of the portrait of Alim Khojaev, the People’s Artist of the USSR. Ruzy was inquiring about him, turning to the actors of the Khamza Theatre, his comrades and colleagues; he attended all his performances, watched many films where Khojaev featured as an actor, read books and articles written about him.
Usually, when drawing sketches, Chariev shows them to colleagues, family and friends, seeking advice on how to approach the character. That is why so dear and interesting to me are Chariev’s portraits of artist Karakhan, composer Akbarov, actress Narbaeva, art historian Taktash and many others. I know these people exactly as Ruzy pictured them – vivid and live soul mates.
Chariev is a bright, passionate and enthusiastic personality. So are his paintings – dynamic and expressive. I am very fond of his landscapes – I admire the way he paints mountains. I like Chariev’s mountains. There is more of Chariev’s character in them than, perhaps, in any other thing. He always paints them in the most unexpected aspects and dimensions. His mountains are symbolic and meaningful. Both the drawing and painting are condensed and temperamental. Such are his red “Charvak” and flame-golden hills and spurs of his native Baisun. I like the meagreness of palette in Chariev’s landscapes. Usually it is the amazing and masterly variations of one or two colours. The “Fergana Valley” is especially appealing – I can ceaselessly admire the multi-plane composition of this evening landscape. The transparency of the beautiful and emotional tone of the painting seems to be sounding. I call it the evening song.
Many Chariev’s paintings can be called songs. How else can one call his “Lullaby”? Against the background of a red carpet, mother is bending over a cradle. Traditional pattern of the carpet, the old-style Uzbek cradle, light-coloured dress of a warm hue, the young mother’s long plaited pitch-black hair running down her shoulders and spine – all this is like the visible words of the Uzbek folk song that goes “Black are my braids…”
And his “Recollection of the Childhood” with radiant and slightly sad melody: pale-orange sunset above a mountain village, blue clouds of smoke over squat earthen huts and dusking hills around. A song is the melody of the girl’s beauty and youth, full of cheerful sound, in the picture called “When the Pomegranate is Ripe”. And jocose, good-humoured songs appear in the series of portraits of Baisun grannies and sprightly young girls – these resemble merry folk tunes.
I like the way Chariev portrays old men. Our unique old men, sages from Samarqand, Bukhara and Tashkent! Their venerable beards framing bronze-coloured faces, snow-white turbans and colourful gowns – are these not songs, ballads of the native land!
Chariev’s portraits are the portraits of our contemporaries. Before us we see personalities – people living near us, our good friends. ‘Let me introduce you’, Chariev seems to be saying, ‘to my friend, a student, a very interesting fellow. Take notice of his beautiful, spiritual face. Perhaps, this is how young Beruni or Ulugbek looked like. And this is my lady-friend from Africa. Look how much dignity she has in her bearing!’ Proud, as if sculptured of black stone, she is the character in his painting “The Black Africa”.
The series of portraits “My contemporary” earned Chariev the award of the Lenin’s Komsomol of the republic.
It is difficult to end this story about artist Chariev. Difficult, because every time I meet him in the studio or at the exhibitions I keep seeing new works he produces, and in every one of them he is fresh and interesting. One can see his own character in these paintings – untiring and unquenchable. For him every new day and every new work is a festival – the festival of new encounters, learnings and discoveries. The festival of new faces and new colours, an endless festival of work and creation…
I know that when I come to see him in his studio I will find him, as usual, possessed with restlessness and joy. And again I will hear him say, ‘Don’t dig in and don’t fuss over every trifling thing – in this world one has work, work and work some more!’