In Tashkent, just as in the other regions of Central Asia, masters used elements characteristic of Islamic culture. The Kukeldash and Sheikh Abul Kasym madrasahs, the Khasti Imam mosque, Kaffola Shoshi mausoleum and other monuments are unparalleled in their beauty and complexity of architectural solutions. The portals of Zangiata mausoleum, the Kukeldash and Baraqkhan madrasahs are decorated with girikh (grid-style) tilework in deep- and light-blue colours. “When reproducing natural landscapes by means of ornamental designs, artists communicated the idea of primeval silence of nature, thus representing the garden of paradise. This, in turn, confirmed that fine arts were inseparable from the postulates of Islam” (1, p. 8).
The imports of forest timber from Russia in the 19th century triggered a fundamental change in the look of ceilings, although the framework remained the same, i.e. made of logs. Beams were laid broadside and beautifully painted. In Tashkent, the upper sections of rooms were decorated with cold deep-blue colours. Later on, in the second half of the 19th century, artists started using light-blue, green, red and turquoise paints.
V. Mankova noted that “In the late 19th century the art of wall-painting was experiencing qualitative transformations. One could observe bulky lines, simple design, the absence of additional ornaments, and the use of lighter colour shades. This was not an indication of decline in wall-painting art, but an evidence of new trends and renewal. There was a need to think it all over and to develop fresh insights. Traditional art turned to face new qualitative changes” (2, p. 189). The present author, however, belives this premise erroneous with regard to the period in question, because during that time the quality of wall-painting art did not see any improvement, but, on the contrary, became much worse.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Tashkent experienced a construction boom. For decoration, masters used carved wood and plaster (ganch), and colour painting. Houses of well-to-do people had many chambers, and the walls were decorated with carving, painting and carved plaster, or were painted with vegetable designes. With time, the styles were combined, and both wall-painting and ganch were used at the same time.
The construction of large government administration buildings was perfomed by masters from different regions of the coutry, namely Kokand, Bukhara, Fergana and Samarqand, who worked side by side with the Tashkent masters. One example is the house of Russian diplomat A. Polovtsev, which was built in 1902-1903. According to Sh. Tashkhojaev, “Designs employed by Tashkent masters appear to be similar to the work of Fergana and Samarqand masters. However, they have some unique features. For instance, the Tashkent wall-painting is dominated by vegetable elements and flowers, and the mixture of modahili, bodom, bofta, shobarg, oygul, chorgul and other designs” (3, p. 11).
P. Zahidov, who studied the wall-painting art for many years and created about 300 girikh patterns, quotes in his book the words of Maoni, the great oriental nakkosh: “One has to find such horizon in art that would open a new stratum of beauty. Accurate depicting of nature is not the ends of art; most important is that every detail in the picture “speaks” – only then you will hold the key to the art” (4, p. 21).
Yakubjan Raufov, born in Tajikistan, mastered the basics of the wall-painting art in Tashkent where he eventually moved to reside. Guided by his father, he participated in decorating buildings in Namangan, Andijan, Samarqand, Kattakurgan and Chimkent. Having started working independently in Fergana, he developed his mastery after he moved to the capital city. Engaged in building ornamentation, he also made and painted home items, such as furniture and jewelboxes.
Line and colour in Raufov’s designs, both in a large-scale structures and small size items, were harmonious and matched beautifully. The designs most commonly used by the master included islimi patnis, islimi gul, islimi mehrob, pechak islimi aroki, yakraftor islimi, and turunj aroki islimi. The master trained his hand so well that he almost never used a stensil and immediately got to painting, colouring and polishing. His designs were large in size and incorporated elements created by the master himself.
Having preserved the traditions of the Tajik painting school, Raufov created original and extraordinary beautiful compositions. Productively employing rich cultural heritage of Uzbek and Tajik schools, he implemented many vegetable and geometric design compositions, magnetic in their vividness and harmonious colour palette. Raufov tends to introduce new elements and motifs in every new composition of traditional patterns. He was the first to use kundala technique – raising the pattern with the use of fine gilded plates. His skill “revived” ornaments in many a building. In 1941 Raufov restored wooden parts in the Polovtsev mansion (presently the building housing the Museum of Applied Arts of Uzbekistan), covered them with enamel, and painted the ceilings.
The people’s artist of Uzbekistan Jalil Khakimov, talented student of the prominent ornamental artist Alimjan Kasymjanov, created his own school and trained many good masters (nakkosh) of architectural decorative painting. Khakimov and his apprentices M. Turaev, K. Karimov and A. Ilkhomov decorated the former building of the Tasjkent Students Hall, the Culture Club in Bekabad, “Yulduz” restaurant in Samarqand, the Museum of Honour and Glory in Akkurgan, the Tashkent railway station, “Uzbekistan” cafe and other buildings. Their work is distinguished by gracefulness, originality, designer style and temporal attributes. Khakimov, the master of architectural decorative painting, also engaged in painting furniture, jewelboxes and other home-use items. Little tables, armchairs and jewelboxes ornamented by him were highly appreciated at numerous international exhibitions. Dominating in his works are saturated green colour and girikh compositions with flowers.
Mahmud Turaev is another representative of the Tashkent school of nakkosh masters. The school of this talented pedagogue can be called “a school of creating compositions of traditional designs”, where new interpretation of elements and colours dominate. Turaev stylized flowers, leaves and fruits, combined separate designs from different schools and created new types of compositions, designs and trends.
Design compositions have been substantially enriched with original landscape and thematic elements by wall-painting masters Tahir Tukhtakhojaev and Anvar Ilkhomov, the people’s artist of Uzbekistan, member of the Artists Union of the Academy of Arts and Honorary Artist of Uzbekistan, who learned the art of painting from Jalil Khakimov and Mahmud Turaev. The masters created subject paintings, partraits and landscapes in golden-brown colour palette.
Ilkhomov has perfectly mastered the art of painting on paper, wood and ganch. His innovative contribution to the art has been his bold introduction of traditional designs into the decoration of modern buildings and the employing of diverse colour palette in his compositions. Ilkhomov’s works include the Festival Hall in the Tashkent Palace of the Friendship of Peoples (1980), the Textile Industry Culture Hall (1987), the Chusovo city Culture Club (Perm Province, Russia, 1978), drama theatre in Gulistan (1985), the State Museum of the Temurid History, and the People’s Theatre in Karakalpakstan.
When decorating the dome of the State Museum of the Temurid History, the master employed a non-traditional method and divided the dome into five sections, creating a complex composition. Formerly, this kind of work required that a dome be divided into four segments. His innovation made the design even more beautiful and it looked very special after the finishing. Ilkhomov pioneered the use of foil in creating designs. His method has been used repeatedly in the ornamentation of government administration and public buildings. Presently he works together with his students Tahir Khusanov, Sadyk Khakimov and Rustambek Shayakubov.
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