They say that love for life and people broadens the horizons of human soul and man’s ideas about the world. Naturally, these manifestations are unique in every individual, depending on one’s intellectual and spiritual qualities. The artist, for example, has a boundless love for things he pictures, be it man or nature. Along with his continuous creative search and growth, to represent the world in art, painter should be ready to choose “raw material”, that is, material from his surrounding. This process is not an ordinary one; it does not depend on the professional qualities of the artist who must realize that stereotypes and imitation obstruct true creativity.
If one looks from this point of view on the artistic career of the well-known artist Sabir Rakhmetov, one would note that there is no pretentiousness in his works. He is like a traveller determined to take a very long road; he is walking slowly towards people and the world around him, watching it with his keen eye, trying to understand the meaning of life, to reveal the beauty of the universe with the choice of his colours and comparisons – dried tree- trunks, the young apple tree in blossoms, etc.
The master’s works reflect the stages of his artistic career. He was lucky to meet many good people, and he lovingly reproduced their images on canvas. In his portraits – the charm of youth, perspicacious mind of a scientist, kind and sincere look in the eyes of a man related to arts. Bowing to the endurance, courage and selflessness of his heroes and as a sign of deep respect for them, the artist creates works in different genres, where every character receives due attention – the author favours everyone of them.
In the 1970s Sabir Rakhmetov established himself as professional artist. His works of that period breath romanticism characteristic of young age (triptych “Interior in Red”), reflecting the trends of those years. The picture of the young artist’s small studio takes one into the magical world of art. Mirror on the wall reflects the interior of the room, where, wrapped in thought, lies a young man; above him there are colourful paintings showing nymphs – the symbols of gracefulness and beauty. For many years the master worked in this studio; he has lots of memories, which seem to come alive in the picture, and the room itself appears to be a living organism.
“The Picture of Azamat Hatamov” (1980) proves Rakhmetov to be a skilled portraitist. For a portrait painter it is not enough to know and love his hero and model: he must skilfully present the world around him using images, emotional conditions and movements characteristic of fine art. Besides, the artist must expose his character’s temper. Rakhmetov employed the entire arsenal of skills he mastered, having adding observation and clever use of all forms of picturing. The classic way – the one followed by Velazquez and Rembrandt in creating their portraits – has become his way too.
The author’s collection contains dozens of portraits. He does not limit himself to picturing his hero alone; he uses many details to reveal his character, including background, scenery, various objects, buildings, etc. An illustrative example is the portrait of poet Gafur Ghulam. This is a thoughtful middle-aged man. On the background we can see the old city pictured in a single space: majestic old madrasah, stalls of a bustling market-place, donkey-carts in the narrow streets, boisterous kids and genial elders, circus actors and performers, busy artisans and craftsmen, slender women carrying bundles on their heads… These scenes have accompanied the poet throughout his entire life and inspired his work.
To expose the spiritual world of his character, the artist uses various techniques. For example, with a close-up the author expresses his hero’s thoughts, using details such as the direction of his look and motion. For comparison, let us consider outwardly similar, but completely internally different portraits of Mr. Nguru from Kenya and German Ambassador. Both characters are wearing white, ties and suits, and are sitting in the same pose. But in the look of the richly dressed African there is a profound sadness, whereas the Ambassador lighting his pipe appears reflective. Here we can see different emotional states, palette, and compositional solution. The artist never stops searching for ways to reveal the nature of man. The portrait of Yunus Rajabi is made against the background of sky that intensifies the hero’s eyes focused on the world and the universe – to evidence that the composer sourced his inspiration for maqom music from his people. The portrait of Kurkmas Muhiddinov expresses the psychological state of the opera singer, joyous and elated from the ovation he received from the audience who appreciated his performance.
The painter’s creative process is unique: unlike other artists, he exercises extra care to prepare himself for painting, clearly identifying his goals and objectives. In the triptych “The Years of Endurance” the events are taking place during the World War II, in the home front – in Uzbekistan. The triad is akin to a great epic. Scenes of great national courage determine the value of the work. It shows noble people who adopted orphaned children, women working the machines, the old men in the tillage… All that is our history, telling us about the nation’s heroism and sacrifice.
The artist created a series of portraits dedicated to the scientists of 1920s and representatives of the Jadid movement who perished during the repression. Before getting down to work, he turned to the memories of people who witnessed that time, looked through many pages of newspapers and magazines, and studied photographs. Artistic presentation of documentary evidence of those events was a serious test for him. The artist fulfilled his duty by paying tribute to the memory of the previous generations, having recorded their heroism in the portrait of Saidnosir Mirjalilov, “The Portrait of a Poet”, “Poet Tavallo”, etc.
A truly productive for Rakhmetov was his trip to Baysun in 1985. Together with A. Ikramjanov and R. Shodiev he collected some unique painting material. Having visited mountain villages, he painted a lot of landscapes and portraits showing the nature and the rich spiritual world of Baysun residents. The diverse range and palette of his works grew richer from year to year. At the beginning of his career in art Rakhmetov tended to use bright colours and thick paint more extensively. In the 1990s, in paintings such as “An Evening in Baysun”, “The Tree”, The Apple Tree”, “Twilight in the Mountains”, “Cloudy Day”, “Mountain Village”, and “Springtime” tender colours prevail, sometimes transiting into the play of half-tones. Paints on the canvas either fade away or “flame” with bright colour. This metamorphosis is characteristic not only of the universe – it also expresses a state of mind of the artist. Bright colours in “Baysun” rush like a waterfall, stunning in their surprise beauty. Baysun became the main theme of the entire cycle of works created in a variety of genres.
Each geographical area has its own intrinsic and distinctive colours. Portraying the natural scenery of Surkhandarya foothills with great skill, the artist employs warm shades for his paintings – just as he does for the images of people from this region. Endless love of the author for his characters is embodied in pure and fair colours, where the space and the characters are illuminated by the rays of warm colours. “Baysun” is an epic painting. It is a symphony on canvas. The author carefully paints every minor detail: fringe on the children’s hats, gentle movement of the ends of a scarf covering the head of a young beauty, vast expanses of land… Withering and fading nature brings about quiet sadness. The bright palette of colours goes from “trembling” to “flaring” in colourful fireworks. The faces of Baysun people walking the streets are proud and lively, illuminated with sincerity and ease. Plenty of details communicate the main idea to the viewer.
Starting from year 2000, it has become traditional for artists to travel to Shakhimardan (Ferghana Valley), as well as to Gilon and Sarchashma villages (Kashkadarya). Springs, mountain peaks, orchards, vineyards, and bustling tea houses of Shakhimardan have become the primary objects of presentation. Rakhmetov’s characters from the region are a woman carrying hot bread, walnut and juniper groves, narrow serpentine trails, barren hills and green plains with grazing animals, waterfalls, and lovely oriental nights with bright moon and stars.
Rakhmetov dedicated a series of paintings to the burning problem of the Aral Sea. These include “In Memory of the Sea”, and “The Aral”, “The Ships”. With the help of special plastic technique and symbolism, the artist communicated people’s pain and suffering. The author believes that in any situation fine art should be targeted, so that the impact it produces and its extended interpretation could contribute to finding a solution to a problem.
Rakhmetov’s interpretations are based on real facts, and this makes his paintings natural, “lively”, and compositionally complete. Spatial voids that perform certain functions become understood. The gracefulness of shades, the richness of palette, the completeness of compositions, and the exact positioning of detailed objects in space are fundamental elements of Rakhmetov’s art. Therefore, his works radiate spiritual power and give joy to people, which proves that he is the artist of great skill.