Gulzor Sultanova’s personal exhibition held in March 2009 in the Fine Arts Gallery of Uzbekistan presented a woman’s view on life and on woman’s character in the modern world.
In the history of fine arts of Uzbekistan, just as in the art of many other countries, despite all sorts of religious and social taboos, portraying human body has become an emotional motivation for artistic creation. It is well exemplified by a temperamental painting of Yanis Salpinkidi and Yevgeniy Melnikov, where the spirit of original mentality and the specificity of ethno-psychology are contrasted with the sensuality of a nude figure.
The art of Gulzor Sultanova is characterized by sincerity and exposure of her characters. Female body in her works is a special semantic element. She seems to be following the traditions of erotic drawing, a tribute to which was given by great Picasso and Dali. Gulzor reproduces sensuality of body curves, as well as a hidden implication typical for oriental art. Her pieces are the way of making a sincere and sensual statement about something innermost that hides in the depths of human soul.
For the “Again About Love” exhibition Gulzor presented her works created in different years. This kind of a retrospective reflects her disposition and her evolution as an artist whose art is directly connected with life and cognition of her own self. Her work unravels the philosophic meaning of love between man and woman, in which she sees a special divine power that helps a human being to overcome its earthly imperfection. In love she also finds the poetry of life.
Main themes of Sultanova’s works are the beauty of human relations, mysteriousness of woman’s character, and variety of interpretation of feelings and emotions. Her characters show an amazing lyricism, and at the same time they have individual personalities, are full of emotions and changing moods. The artist’s emancipated creative spirit enables her to portray human emotions such as amorousness, contemplation, meditation and spiritual flight. Symbols familiar to us have a slightly different meaning for Sultanova. Her characters represent a unity of symbols which seem to facilitate the perception of art through the development of associative thinking and through an integral perception of assorted pictorial motifs. Metaphorical symbolism in her works is perhaps central in its significance. For instance, in China the image of a horse is the embodiment of a feminine origin, whereas Sultanova uses it to represent will power and struggle.
One of the most ancient and exciting theme in art, especially representational art, is the theme of Angel as heavenly messenger. Its image appeared in art as early as antiquity. Nature and the content of good and evil in Sultanova’s art run counter to our habitual perceptions. In her works, be it sculpture or drawing, people and angels intertwine in feelings. According to biblical interpretation of creation, a man is different from an angel primarily in his freedom to choose. Angel is presented as God’s servant who follows His orders, whereas man whom God created in imitation of Himself has a will to make his own choice between good and evil, love and hatred. If this were not true, would God deliberately give a man an opportunity to choose by planting the forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden?
An equal measure of gravitating towards good and evil is indeed intrinsic to man from birth. Making the choice between the two – in big and small things – is a daily routine, and this choice determines our entire life.
Even greater acuteness and diversity of human emotions and different shades of sentiments is communicated by a solitary woman’s image. Individuality of appearance and sentiments is expressed by profoundly emotional flow of movement, gesture, expressivity of linear rhythm and the very positioning of the figures on the sheet’s plane. The contrast between dark lines of the body and white background, the picture’s purity and clarity emphasize femininity and the power of the image. Diversity of Sultanova’s works is not in their subject, but in their graphic organization, owing to which the emotional content of her works acquires a hidden implication that counts on the viewer’s associative thinking, as for example, in her “Pomegranate” (2003), a fruit that was a symbol of marriage already in Greek mythology. The story tells that Persephone, the wife of Hades, swallowed a pomegranate seed every spring when she returned from the underworld to renew the earth. Thus, from Greece to China, the pomegranate fruit had become a symbol of fertility. At the same time, in Jewish tradition there is the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life, which the Most High placed in the Garden of Eden after the creation of the world. In different legends the Tree of Knowledge is identified as fig-tree, apple-tree, and pomegranate tree.
There are numerous interpretations of “knowledge” contained in the forbidden fruit: laws of morality, and sexual, rational and intellectual knowledge. Thus the image of the Tree of Life entered our reality as a controversial symbol. The fruit it bore became the symbol of seduction of the original sin and at the same time an integral element in the cognition of the universe. In Sultanova’s works pomegranate features more as a motif of knowing physical pleasures, as a symbol of woman’s maturity, as a fruit of her expectation and anticipation, as a vessel of knowledge with intoxicating wine that clouds one’s mind. The pomegranate fruit has deeper meaning than the golden apple from the Tree of Knowledge. In the pomegranate there is blood that runs through it. This blood fills the vessel with life.
Deep psychological analysis runs across Sultanova’s works dedicated to motherhood and the presentation of a philosophic image of perpetually renewing life. Motherhood is one of the most profound and significant themes in global art, beginning from the antiquity. Sultanova repeatedly turns to it in her art (“Motherhood”, 2006; “Born in Love”, 1999; “The Fruits of Love”, 2008). Curiously, the traditional theme of fertility turned out to be polysemantic for the author. In these works the symbol of motherhood moves to the background, right from the start associating the viewer with human, worldly pleasures where motherhood is a kind of a symbol for the Fall. This image continues the idea of the original sin. In Sultanova’s art, motherhood is associated with vice and sin.
This is biblical understanding of motherhood, as it is through temptation and fall that man is born. Speaking of the peculiarity of these works, they are notable for their amazingly lyrical, flowing musical organization. Smooth shape lines reveal romanticism in the author’s personality. Thus, from piece to piece, the woman artist aspires for the uniqueness of each character. When creating monochrome drawings, she communicates the power of light, the key and vibration, and the sentiment of the work. In sculpture, Sultanova finds inspiration in the unity of masculine and feminine origins. For instance, in China the basis for understanding the universe was the division of everything that exists into two elements: the shadow one, the one of the moon, the feminine one – the Yin; and the one of light and the sun, the masculine one – the Yang; and the ultimate goal of the two is to unite. Harmonious unity of the two universal components has the life-giving power. In a work of art that in all cultures was thought to be the model of the universe, a solitary woman’s image cannot be self-sufficient.
Gulzor Sultanova is continuously searching for typification. Her art is based on turning to human character and its inner content. An experience that produced a strong impression on the author is transformed into a concoction that requires graphic implementation. Sultanova’s sculpture seems to be born from her impressions from her own drawings. Gulzor often thinks about the background in her works. Features of her heroines – the lyrical softness of their body contours, their fragile grace and elegance are implemented by Sultanova in one ideal artistic image that becomes a generalized expression of poetry and beauty seen by the artist in day-to-day reality.
Sultanova has an amazing sense of form. With pure lines of nudity and quiet smoothness of a silhouette the artist achieves the sense of movement and expresses human emotional state. Her sculptures seem to be inspired by the works of Pablo Picasso whose art shows an inspiration sourced from African sculpture. Once, when asked about the influence of African sculptures upon his art, Picasso responded, “For me, African statues that can be found anywhere are rather evidence than specimens.” For instance, Sultanova’s ceramics “Strength and Tenderness” is inspired by contrasting characters, in which one can discern a metaphor for a solid and balanced stance in life, a fragile soul and feminine grace.
The value of human emotions is presented in Sultanova’s works in a spiritual integrity. In works dedicated to the theme of love her artistic temperament has been realized most fully, and her ceramics is highly spiritual. Sultanova reached the greatest mastery in sculpture when she created a number of nude figures (“Kiss”, 2008; “The Most Favourite Woman”, 2009; “Strength and Tenderness”, 2009). A true ode to feminine beauty is the sculpture “Confession of Love” (2005). Exquisite and calm grace of smooth body lines emphasized by ceramics natural shades communicates the woman’s allure and charm and her proud majesty.
A woman’s character created by artist Gulzor Sultanova is the embodiment of life origin. She only creates a subject mood, interpreting it by way of creating multifaceted characters and diverse real-life types, as well as communicating certain spiritual state, rather than by a psychological characteristic. This is one of key specificities of the art of Gulzor Sultanova – painter, sculptor and graphic artist. Uninhibited emotions that characterize Sultanova’s art make her works unique, and her inner freedom becomes her primary tuning fork.