On the 23rd of January 1997, in keeping with the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan I. A. Karimov, the Academy of Arts was established, which was a significant event in socio-political and cultural life of the country. The main objective placed before the new institution was to facilitate the entry of the national art of Uzbekistan into global cultural space as independent artistic phenomenon. Raising the social status of the artist and his role in the formation of new society and its spiritual culture was one of the important components when the establishment of the Academy of Arts was considered, which was to a certain extent conditioned by economic factors as well. In a difficult transitional period the independent state declared that it would take the responsibility for the fate of artistic culture. An optimum way seemed to be the establishment of a strong government structure capable of consolidating artistic forces and giving new impetus to the development of three ingredients of creative process in art: artistic education, exhibition and creative activities, as well as academic, research, critical and promotional work. The Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan has become this very structure.
Government has become the primary customer in the domain of fine art and sculpture. The fruit of consolidated effort of artists and sculptors was the appearance of new magnificent monuments dedicated to our ancestors and reflecting people’s cultural heritage on the squares and streets of Tashkent, Samarqand, Bukhara, Khiva, Urgench, Shakhrisabz, Termez, Andijan, Karshi and other cities.
Many new works by Uzbekistan artists are kept in museums and galleries. Over the last few years in Tashkent, for example, there opened the Gallery of Fine Arts of Uzbekistan and the Gallery of Culture and Art of Uzbekistan. The government highly values the work of artists, many of who have been awarded orders and medals, state awards of Uzbekistan, and gold and silver medals of the Academy of Arts; many received honorary titles of the Republic of Uzbekistan: People’s Artist, Honoured Art Worker, Honoured Cultural Worker, and Honoured Youth Mentor. Among those who received the awards are representatives of different nationalities who consider Uzbekistan their homeland. All of them actively participate in the formation of artistic culture of the country. All this contributes to the deepening of roots of our artistic culture and ensures creative diversity.
Over the years of independence the names and work of great artists, our ancestors who glorified their homeland by their work, such as Kamaliddin Bekhzad, Makhmud Muzahhib and many others, have re-acquired their former glory. The country widely celebrated the anniversary of Kamaliddin Bekhzad and the museum of the history of miniature was created under his name.
A unique system of training the masters of brush was developed over the years of independence: there opened the National Institute of Art and Design, the Republican College of Painting, and specialized lyceums were created where young people explore and mysteries of artistic creation.
Over the last few years the world has re-discovered the fine art of Uzbekistan. Uzbek artists, sculptors and craftsmen successfully participate in different international exhibitions, and many of them receive high awards. The fruit of their work constitutes the golden fund of museums and private collections worldwide and decorates streets and avenues of cities abroad. An important contribution to introducing the global community to the work of our artists is the international Biennale exhibition held in Tashkent. Every year the number of countries and artists taking part in the exhibition is increasing, which testifies to its growing importance.
The Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan is not only an equitable participant of international artistic movement, but has also become one of the universally recognized forces in this area. Cooperation with advanced countries in the sphere of academic research and training yields its fruit. To be mentioned specifically is the creation of Ikuo Hiroyama’s International Caravan-Sarai of Culture in Tashkent with the involvement of Japanese experts who perform archaeological survey in Surkhandarya oasis; it is also worth mentioning that our relations with organization “Restorers without Frontiers” have gone into practical plane in the area of restoration of cultural monuments.
With the direct involvement of the Academy of Arts a major work is being done on the development of photographic art in the country and the establishment of the Uzbek school of photography. The House of Photography was created in Tashkent, a foundation is set for international photo-biennale in Tashkent, and a membership acquired in the international association of photo-artists. Celebration of the 125th anniversary of Uzbek photography on international level and publications on the subject testify to great creative potential of photography masters from Uzbekistan.
Current objectives in qualitatively new, analytical approach to the studies of art history and contemporary artistic processes in the country are covered in the SAN’AT Journal of the Academy of Arts. The journal offers its readers information in Uzbek, Russian and English languages on the most important issues in domestic art history and criticism. Over a short period of time the journal acquired readers in many countries within and outside the CIS.
The establishment of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan became an important historical step in the development of the country’s contemporary art. The Academy of Arts has proved its viability and worth in the job of creating proper environment for creative work and has strengthened cultural image of our country internationally.