“San’at” Journal editors, as all the people of Uzbekistan, anticipate the momentous holiday – the 20th anniversary of Independence that has brought fundamental reforms to all spheres of the country’s life, including culture and art.
In the challenging time of the nation’s establishment, the government has taken responsibility for the survival of art and culture, giving particular attention to visual arts. There emerged a need for a strong government institution capable of consolidating artistic forces and promoting the development of creative process components, such as art education, exhibitions and creative activities, as well as academic and research work, criticism and public relations.
In January 1997, by Decree of the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, the Academy of Arts was established and tasked with maintaining, studying and enriching the unique traditions of different schools of the national art, which have evolved on the territory of Uzbekistan; popularizing masterpieces of fine and applied arts and miniature painting; establishing the system of art education in line with the requirements of the time; training highly skilled specialists; and further improving academic research work.
The government, being the principle client in the field of fine arts and sculpture, provides comprehensive support to the institution. As the fruit of the collaborative effort, the squares and streets in all cities of the country saw the emergence of new complexes and magnificent monuments reflecting the nation’s cultural heritage. Over the years of independence, the AAU’s active efforts returned the former glory to the names and work of the great artists of the past whose art brought fame to their homeland. The country celebrated the anniversary of Kamoliddin Behzad and created a memorial complex bearing his name with the purpose of collecting, archiving, consolidating and promoting the artistic heritage related to the art of medieval and contemporary miniature of the East.
Art organizations and institutions were created within the AAU system. These include the Tashkent House of Photography that facilitates the development of the art of photography, and the Chor-Su art gallery – a branch of the Art Exhibitions Directorate in Samarqand, promoting the ancient history of Samarqand, its past and present. The AAU Special Fund was opened to conserve and study the rich artistic heritage of the Uzbek people, to identify its place in the history of the world’s art, to do research, and create textbooks and teaching aids responding to the ideas of independence. The “Hamar” International Relations Centre (IRC) has become the promoter of the rich artistic heritage and contemporary visual and applied arts through exhibitions, fairs and auctions held domestically and abroad. An international educational centre is the Ikuo Hirayama Caravanserai of Culture. Relevant issues of a qualitatively new analytical approach to the study of art history and contemporary art processes in the country are covered in the “San’at” Journal, created as a subdivision of the AAU in 1998, providing its readers with information on the most important developments in the national art history and criticism in Uzbek, Russian and English languages. During the years of independence the AAU has been active in establishing, maintaining and regularly updating websites of the Academy and its subdivisions.
Of great importance has been exhibition activity, determining the level of fine and applied arts development in our country, and being one of the priority areas for the AAU. The Art Exhibitions Directorate, which became part of the Academy of Arts in 1997, implements a variety of exhibition projects (of which there have been about a thousand over the past few years), taking care of the development of academic and artistic design concepts for major international exhibition projects and events held in line with the government decisions; it is also responsible for organizing personal and retrospective exhibitions.
The AAU leadership initiates and organizes international and national projects such as the annual festival titled “Navkiron Uzbekiston Zamonaviy San’at” (Contemporary Art of Young Uzbekistan), the Tashkent International Biennale, the Tashkent International Biennale of Children’s Drawings, the “TashkentAle” International Photo Biennale, the “Top Art”, the “The Fine Arts Week + 5″, and many other international and national exhibitions, through which the world discovers the visual art of Uzbekistan.
ВOver the years of independence, in keeping with the task given to the Academy of Arts to improve education and creative process, a unique multi-tier system was created to train artists, sculptors, craftsmen and art critics; the system includes the National Institute of Arts and Design named after K. Behzad, 13 lyceums of fine and decorative arts, and three art colleges.
The Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan is a participant of international art processes. Since 1997 the AAU leadership has enjoyed an equal rights membership in the Board of the Artists’ Unions International Confederation (Moscow), and, since 2003, has been member to the Supreme Council of the European Academy (Paris).
Uzbek painters, sculptors and craftsmen harvest success at various international contests and exhibitions. Many of them received honourable prizes, and their works became the assets of the world’s largest museums and private collections, or decorate urban streets and avenues. In evidence of the recognition by the international artistic community of creative achievements and professionalism of Uzbek masters of chisel and brush has been their membership in the academies of arts overseas.
The government highly appreciates the artists’ contribution, rewarding the best of them with orders and medals, state awards of Uzbekistan, and gold and silver medals of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan; and conferring on them the honorary titles of the People’s Artist, Honoured Art Worker, Honoured Cultural Worker, and Merited Young People’s Mentor. Among the awardees are the representatives of different ethnic groups and nationalities – people who consider Uzbekistan their homeland and are actively involved in shaping the artistic culture of Uzbekistan.
The Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan invests a lot of energy to unite in its ranks the country’s creative potential in the fine arts domain, and to consolidate efforts, searching for ways to develop new professional environment. The good ground for developing fine arts and enhancing the image of Uzbekistan as a country with a rich spiritual heritage and advanced artistic achievements is in place.