Artistic links between artists and sculptors of Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan have existed for many years. In December 1962 the Fine Arts Museum of Uzbekistan (Tashkent) hosted an exhibition of paintings by Azerbaijani artists G. Mustafayeva, D. Rustamov, T. Sadyhzade (2, p. 142). In July 1965 Azerbaijani artists took an active part in the exhibition titled “Across My Country”, also held in Tashkent (2, p. 166). In 1975, Mikail Abdullayev, the People’s Artist of Azerbaijan, painted a picture “Abu Ali ibn Sino” and in 1980 – “Samarqand Porcelain”. In the same year his painting “Cotton” was recognized as the best at an exhibition of Azerbaijani artists in Tashkent.
Historical connections between Azerbaijani and Uzbek people have deep roots and are realized in the form of political, economic, scientific and cultural relations. The common origin and, consequently, the similarity of languages and, to an extent, customs, a common religion and historical parallels that existed in Antiquity and Middle Ages created a foundation for the links to develop further in subsequent periods; along with that, nowadays, shared geo-strategic interests provide the basis for these relationships to develop. Growing bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan are supported by functional legal basis constituted by about one hundred interstate and intergovernmental documents. Islam Karimov, the President of Uzbekistan, noted: “We consider Azerbaijan a country close to us – by history, mentality, religion and spirit”. In 2006 in one of his public addresses Geidar Aliev, the leader of Azerbaijan, said: “The relations between Azerbaijani and Uzbek people have long history; in all times our people were friends, supported each other and promoted cultural values together”.
Azerbaijani sculptor Fuad Gasan ogly Abdurahmanov made a significant contribution to the development of cultural relations between the two countries. He was born in 1915 in Sheki, the ancient city in Azerbaijan. In 1927-1935 Abdurahmanov studied at the painting department of the Azerbaijan State College of Arts and in 1934 began to take part in national exhibitions. Having graduated from the College, he entered the sculpture department of the Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture of the All-Russian Academy of Fine Arts (presently the St. Petersburg State Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture named after I. Y. Repin). After graduation he returned to Baku. As the Second World War broke out, he was drafted to the Red Army as an artist to design propaganda posters and campaign-trains. At that time he made a series of bas-reliefs showing the images of legendary national heroes of Azerbaijan, such as Babek, Javanshir, and Ker-ogly. He also made busts of many war heroes. For his dedicated work during the war Abdurakhmanov was awarded the title of the Honoured Artist of Azerbaijan (4, p. 101).
In the 1960s Abdurahmanov enthusiastically studied the history of art and culture of Central and Middle Asia. This resulted in a series of works dedicated to prominent figures of the medieval East, including Uzbek poet, philosopher and doctor of medicine Abu Ali ibn Sino (Avicenna).
In 1956 the government opened an All-Union competition to design the monument of Abu Ali Ibn Sino. The challenge of the task was compounded by the fact that no portraits of the poet were available at that time. However, the idea was to create an image of man who embodied all the very best and progressive that existed in the medieval culture of Uzbekistan. Projects presented for the contest showed how broadly the artists could interpret the image of the famous doctor and philosopher. The jury decided that Abdurahmanov was closest to the creation of the national ideal – Abu Ali ibn Sino.
Doctor of Art History J. Novruzova who researched the art of Abdurakhmanov identified the following features inherent in the works of the sculptor: psychological insight and historical accuracy combined with profound modernism; reserve in the way he communicated facial expression; and desire for an in-depth comprehension of the model’s character and spirit (3, p.82). All this was clearly demonstrated in the design of the Abu Ali ibn Sino monument, and Abdurakhmanov was awarded the First Prize of the contest (4, p. 101). On the 4th of July, 1956 Pravda Vostoka newspaper reported that a compound monument (bronze, granite pedestal) to be installed in Bukhara would be created by sculptor F. Abdurakhmanov and architect H. Mukhtar (2, p. 99).
Several versions of the monument’s design have survived. The first version 200 cm high was made of tinted gypsum (after the sculptor’s demise it was given to his memorial museum) and had the traits of conventionality; the second (also handed over to the memorial museum) and the third (given to the Ministry of Culture of the Uzbek SSR) variants differed significantly from the first (4, p. 104.). Comparison of the design alternatives clearly shows how the image conceived by the author was gradually evolving, shedding redundant pathos.
The final version of the monument is striking in its integrity and metaphorical generalization. The work harmoniously combines ideological, emotional and aesthetic elements, while keeping the image understandable to our contemporaries. The sculptor succeeded in showing majestic features of the prominent medieval scholar, revealing his bright mind, wisdom and humanity. The figure of the scientist, the way his head is turned, and the position of his hands emphasize his creative concentration and reinforce the impression of his inner strength. The scholar’s face is filled with inspiration and shows his strong will; the expression on his face is that of a hardworking and spiritually strong person. The character’s traditional attire is austere and simple, reinforcing the impression of monumentality. The sculptor managed to realize his concoction with integrity by way of clear-cut and stern composition, convincing structural solution, well-constructed dimensions and expressive modelling. According to some experts, “In the character of Ibn Sino Abdurahmanov achieved a vivid communication of national characteristics”, “…managed to artfully expose motivation behind creative inspiration, originality and creative individuality, and to shown the features of the scientist’s national character” (3, p. 85). Art critics gave the following assessment of Abdurakhmanov’s work: “Through dynamic forms, the sculptor succeeded in portraying spirituality and multifaceted character of the great scholar” (1, p.170).
The Tashkent earthquake of 1966 demanded strong efforts from all working people in Uzbekistan, and the installation of the monument to Ibn Sino in Bukhara was suspended. Priority in construction was given to housing, health and education facilities, public and government buildings, plants and factories. Soon the Uzbek people overcame the consequences of the natural disaster, and the work to install sculptures and monuments was resumed in the country.
In 1970 preparatory work for installing the monument was restarted. But in 1971 the art of Azerbaijan suffered a heavy loss: sculptor Fuad Abdurakhmanov, the People’s Artist of Azerbaijan, Corresponding Member of the Academy of Arts, Honoured Artist of Azerbaijan and winner of the State Award of the USSR, passed away. Creative journey of the most talented sculptor who was rightfully considered to be the founder of modern Azerbaijani sculpture was interrupted. The casting and installation of the of Ibn Sino monument in Bukhara were performed by Tokay Mamedov and Omar Eldarov, his colleagues and friends.
Inauguration of the Abu Ali Ibn Sino monument was held in Bukhara in 1975, demonstrating the great respect felt by the people of Azerbaijan to the personality and deeds of the great doctor and philosopher. Fuad Abdurakhmanov invested his talent and professional skill into this monument, having proved once again that he was the artist of remarkable gift, the true classic of Azerbaijani sculpture. Abdurakhmanov’s sincere enthusiasm about portraits of the classics of oriental culture, including Uzbek culture, was not accidental. When a memorial museum was being created in the house where the sculptor lived, in his studio among some finished pieces they found a gypsum model of a monument of Abu Rayhan Biruni (the model size is 46 x 15 x 14) (4, p.103).
Fuad Abdurakhmanov contributed greatly to the formation and evolution of Azerbaijani monumental and stationed sculpture. Equally significant are his achievements in developing and promoting relations between Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.
1. История искусства народов СССР. Т. 9. Кн.2-я. 1960 – 1977 гг. М., 1984.
2. Летопись полувека. Хроника культурной жизни Узбекистана (1924 – 1974 гг.) / Автор-составитель В. Тюриков. Ташкент, 1975.
3. Новрузова Дж. Скульптура Советского Азербайджана. Баку, 1979.
4. Новрузова Дж. Фуад Абдурахманов. Скульптура. М., 1988.
Sabuhi Akhmedov (Azerbaijan)