The First Woman-Artist in the Uzbek National Theatre

Issue #3-4 • 1226

In 1930s when even men had difficulty in receiving artistic education, Lola Abdullaeva took the courage to go and learn the art of painting. As early as in her school years she had an urge to become a painter. Working on the wall newspaper and drawing lessons were her favourite occupation. Her world outlook evolved under the influence of the Khamza Theatre, the unique atmosphere of the old town and walks in the Pushkin Park.

Despite the protests of her family, Abdullaeva entered an art school where she learned the secrets of pictorial art from Pavel Gan, Alexander Volkov, Bakhrom Khamdami and Nikolai Karakhan. Regular participation in the performance production work in the Khamza Theatre, interest in the still and closer familiarization with theatrical environment facilitated the evolution of her world outlook and entry into the world of art. It is not surprising that Abdullaeva eventually became a stage designer. First she worked in a Kazakh Drama Theatre in Alma-Ata, learning the rules and requirements of stage and experimenting together with directors. Then she continued her creative explorations in a Theatre and Art Centre in Frunze city (now Bishkek). The time of war and the years of hardships that followed did not break her will to pursue a career in art.

Since 1948 Abdullaeva is the lead artist of Khorezm Province State Theatre of Musical Drama and Comedy named after Agakhi, where she had worked for more than fifty years. Over the many years of her creative work the artist prepared a large number of performances in which she had been able to present a peculiar world of art. Still and costumes for the plays “Farkhad and Shirin”, “Leili and Mejnun”, “The White Lotus”, “Spring-time”, “The Last Khan”, “The Victim of Education”, “The Highland Girl” and “The Night of the Moon Eclipse” were highly appraised by the audience.

Since 1970s Lola Abdullaeva, along with creating still for the theatre, had been productively experimenting with easel painting. She participated in many republican-level art exhibitions. The art gallery of Urgench successfully held both her personal exhibitions and exhibitions that displayed the works of her students as well. Unfortunately, the creative heritage of the artist is understudied, and her works had not been purchased by museums. Yet, the canvases by Abdullaeva demonstrate great mastery of artistic solution and colouring. The picturing of the ancient Khiva architectural monuments on the background, attention to the inner decorum of rooms, careful drawing of costumes and fabrics, well-thought mise-en-scene of the compositions, and the use of ornamentation – all these features in her canvases were determined by her experience in working with theatrical still.

Abdullaeva created a number of female portraits. Among them are “The Dawn of Khorezm” (1971) and “The Blind” (1972). In her work “The Dawn of Khorezm” the artist created the image of her contemporary, a famous singer Onabibi Safarova, who was commonly known under the name of Onash-Cholok. Being a famed actress of her time, she was at the forefront among those who fought for the emancipation of women. The main character is portrayed riding a white horse, playing an accordion. She is wearing a white headscarf, and the women standing beside her have similar scarves on. Besides women, the picture also shows men in traditional attire. On the background of the painting, against the backdrop of Khiva architectural monuments, the artist pictured the spectators. Onabibi is singing her favourite songs. The painting has an overall resemblance to a stage scene.

Abdullaeva’s painting “The Blind” is now kept in the Fine Art Gallery of Uzbekistan. The canvas shows a large image of a well-known Khorezmian poetess Onabibi-khalfa, sitting with accordion in her hands. She is clad in snow-white garments, fur telpak on her head. Her unseeing eyes are staring at one point. The composition is multi-figural, portraying mostly women. The artist skilfully employed numerous additional details: columns decorated with wood carving and items of traditional lifestyle. The white colour of the garments and pure and vivid background symbolize tranquillity and serenity. This canvas also reminds of a stage scene. At the same time one gets an impression as if a sad melody of accordion is pining for women’s liberty.

A number of Abdullaeva’s works are dedicated to Al-Khorezmi, Al-Beruni, Agakhi, Avaz Utar, and Najmeddin Kubro. She also created the images of Bakhrom and Dilorom, the characters of Alisher Navoi’s work “The Seven Planets”. To mark the 2,500th anniversary of Khiva, Abdullaeva published an album dedicated to Khorezmian costume. A special place in the artist’s work is occupied by pieces such as “The Tragedy of Aral” that reflect environmental problems of the area.

The image of the woman-mother is one of the favourite themes for Abdullaeva. The series of self-portraits created in 1972, 1984 and 1998 presents different situations in her life and work. For instance, “The Self-portrait Painted with Brush” (1998) pictures an aging woman wearing white scarf.

Abdullaeva paid a lot of attention to the development of such complex type of art as theatrical artistic d?cor, and found the time to educate young artists. Among her students are T. Jumaniyazov, O. Allabergenov, Sh. Usmanov and S. Dustjanov, who now successfully work in the field of art.

Naima Khudaibergenova

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