For the first time, spring season brought together artists from different countries (the art of Ukraine and Japan was particularly well represented this year) and craftsmen from all over the country on a unique occasion. The IX Art Week + 5 that traditionally opened in the Central Exhibition Hall (CEH) of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan (AAUz) to run across the country is the gathering of artists of different generations, both maintaining traditions of ancient crafts, and seeking new forms of expression.
Crimean Style, Ukrainian Motifs, and Oriental Flavour
The first day of the Art Week that traditionally started on April 21, the Artist Day, set the mood for the whole festival. The event took its guests around the country, and every landscape, portrait, or abstract composition was a master’s attempt at discovering the world inside himself and finding himself in the world.
The project was organized by the AAUz and the “Forum for Culture and Arts of Uzbekistan” Foundation, with support from the Ministries of Higher and Secondary Vocational Education, Health, and Internal Affairs, as well as from the “Uzbektourism” National Company, “Uzbekkino” National Agency, and other organizations.
The Art Week started simultaneously in all provinces and cities of the republic, and in the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan. In Jizzakh specialized boarding school of arts Academician of the AAUz painter Sagdulla Abdullaev met with orphanage students with impaired physical abilities. Syrdarya branch of the Artists Union hosted an exhibition of young artists’ works and a meeting with writer Nodir Normatov. Exhibition participants received commemorative gifts and diplomas. Prizes and diplomas of the AAUz and Namangan Province Government (Hokimiyat) were awarded to the students of vocational colleges and universities of Namangan, who met with Askarali Akparov, artist and Academician.
Many wonderful surprises awaited the guests of the CEH on the opening day of the Week. The first floor of the Hall accommodated a colourful exhibition of paintings. Powerful landscapes by V. Troshina (“Autumn”, “The Coming of Spring”), I. Shin (“Little Water Spring”, “Brichmulla”), V. Yenin (“AlmatyLake”) and other authors captured the beauty of nature still untapped by the man. A melody of pristine beauty sounded in the works of ceramists A. Rakhimov and N. Kuzieva. Stone-works by E. Safaryan (“Buddha”, “Mahatma”) tuned the audience to the philosophical mood. A non-ordinary solution of Oriental theme and modern urban style in apparel was offered by fashion designers A. Inozemtseva (“Urban Release”) and I. Son “Abre Coquette”).
A significant event was a solo exhibition of Ukrainian artist Mamut Churlu. Originally from Uzbekistan and now living in the Crimea, Mamut still cherishes folk art traditions of the land where he developed as professional artist. His ceramic items “Pomegranate Tree”, “Navruz”, and “Green Tea” catch the eye with their graceful shapes and unexpected presentation of familiar designs. Adherence to the ‘Crimean style’ is also noticeable in the master’s works. Mamut Churlu is the mastermind and curator of the “Crimean style” project aimed to revive and develop the art of the Crimean Tatars. Under the project, he organized more than 20 exhibitions in the cities of Ukraine and abroad.
Together with Mamut Churlu the Art Week was also attended by artist O. Kovalchuk, Candidate of Art History, Associate Professor of the National Academy of Arts and Architecture of Ukraine, and A. V. Chebykin, People’s Artist of Ukraine, Academician, Rector of the National Academy of Arts and Architecture, Honorary Overseas Member of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan.
The visit of the artists from Ukraine has been yet another step towards strengthening cultural connections between our countries.
Sakura in the Uzbek Land
A signature event of the Week” was Japanese Culture Days marking the 20th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Uzbekistan and Japan. The project was made possible through support from the Embassy of Japan in Uzbekistan, the Uzbekistan-Japan Human Development Centre, the Ikuo Hirayama International Caravanserai of Culture, and the Central Eurasian Club of Gunma Prefecture. On the way from the Central Exhibition Hall to the Behzad Memorial Garden-Museum visitors could see the students of art schools and colleges of Tashkent dressed in samurai costumes: girls wore kimono and held fans with fabulous birds and flowers; one could admire porcelain items of the finest workmanship. Together with Japanese photographers whose works were displayed at the exhibition, one could immerse in a dreamy contemplation of cherry blossoms, or slowly follow the procession of girls in nuptial kimonos at the Aidzu Tajima Gion festival in Fukushima, or empathize with people affected by the tragic events of last spring.
Those who attended events organized as part of the Japanese Culture Days could learn about the mysteries of “the way to write” – thus translates the word “calligraphy”, the history of which in Japan began in the 5th century AD. Gayane Matevosyan who teaches calligraphy at the Uzbek-Japanese Human Development Centre introduced the audience to the specifics of this ancient art that has many styles, each intended to deliver aesthetic pleasure. “The art of calligraphy has philosophy in it, and much is related to Zen Buddhism”, Gayane explains. “The art is demanding, and requires dedication, patience and focus. The brush touches the paper only for an instant, everything happens in one breath, but one must follow the path in awareness. In the language of Japanese calligraphy the most important thing is not the touch, but the gesture, the dance.”
Japanese culture enthusiasts were rewarded by an origami master class delivered by the staff of the Ikuo Hirayama Caravanserai of Culture. For a long time, only the upper classes could practice this art, but from 1960s it gained popularity across the board. Everyone eager to do so, could understand the complex mathematical component of origami by making traditional paper cranes.
The memory of Japan will also be kept by the students of the Behzad National Institute of Arts and Design (NIAD) who attended a master-class of Yoshiko Saito, Japanese expert in enamelling and grattography, held at the Caravanserai. Yoshiko lives in GunmaPrefecture and engages in almost all activities of the Central Eurasian Club that was created there. Having dedicated 40 years of her life to the art of grattography, she developed a unique method of creating her items using silver.
An integral part of the Japanese Culture Days was a tea ceremony. As the Japanese proverb says, this meeting over a cup of a fragrant drink on a springtime day may never happen again, but there is no doubt that it will become a link in the chain of cultural events dedicated to Japan. Hosting these events in our country has become a good tradition that bringing together a growing number of fans of this country’s culture and customs every year.
The Perpetual Dance of Flowers and Geometrical Shapes
The Art Week guests could witness the process of creating applied art items that brought fame to our land way beyond its boundaries. Every day around the Central Exhibition Hall young masters created traditional girih and islimi designs on wood and plaster (ganch). A potter’s wheel went spinning, turning clay into elegant pitchers. On the same premises they displayed the works of famous artists, including chaser Masud Madaliev who carries on the trade of his ancestors in already seventh generation, employing the elements of Bukhara and Fergana chasing schools and reviving the Tashkent school.
Everyone’s attention was caught by miniatures made on traditional Samarqand paper by the students of Academician Shamahmud Mukhamejanov, the People’s Artist of Uzbekistan. The master and his students source their inspiration and themes from Uzbek and Persian classical literature.
The art festival was also attended by Salimjan Badalbaev, senior lecturer of the Miniature and Calligraphy Department of the Behzad NIAD, winner of the Gold Medal of the AAUz and the Gold Medal awarded by the Ministry of Higher Education of the Republic of Egypt for outstanding contribution to the art of calligraphy; his students also took part in the festival. Badalbaev dedicated not only his art works, but also a number of publications and manuals for novice calligraphers, to Arabic script that once developed extensively in Central Asia.
The Central Exhibition Hall displayed traditional suzane embroidery and ceramics of the Narzullaev family from Gijduvan at an exhibition dedicated to the Family Year. The exhibition was a tribute to the memory of the dynasty head Ibodullo Narzullaev. Ibodullo’s wife, an 85-year-old Mustapshira Barakaeva together with her daughters, daughters-in-law and students continues to recreate XVIII century Bukhara designs on homespun calico. According to Mustapshira’s eldest daughter Zebuniso, they use only natural pigments (onion skins, pomegranate, deep-green usma). Today the art of the Narzullaev family is known far beyond Uzbekistan: their works were displayed at international exhibitions in the USA, Germany, France, Japan, Great Britain and other countries.
Master-Class for the NEXT Generation
The annual festival initiated by the Academy of Arts and a number of other agencies stands out not only in the originality of the displayed items, but also in the span of genres and art forms. The IX Art Week was no exception: it presented a lot of graphic arts, such as cartoons by Radik Azizov and a young artist Yulia Zemlyanskaya; poetry by Damir Urazaev and several other authors; watercolour landscapes by Marat Sadykov, Gennady Golischenko, and Anna Gorobtsova. An innovative event at the festival was a photo exhibition presenting works by Rustam Sharipov, Abdugani Jumaev, and Iskander Sadykov; a panoramic photography master-class was delivered by Mikhail Levkovich who teaches at photography studio at the Tashkent House of Photography. For the first time there were a presentation and master-classes on contemporary art forms such as sand graphics on a light plate, electronic graphics tablet design, and bionic architecture conducted by students and young teachers of the Tashkent Institute of Architecture and Civil Engineering under the guidance of Marina Borodina, Head of Design and Architectural Landscape Department.
The discovery of the Art Week was a solo exhibition of young talented artist Normurod Nigmatov, “The Singing Stones of Samarqand”, which opened on the day of sculpture and design. Stone, plaster, and wood are the materials chosen by Normurod to create his “Sadness”, “Dream”, “Kiss”, “Bathers”, “Mallow” and other pieces.
A retrospective display of costumes, from ancient Greece to the present day, was organized with the participation of students from the Behzad NIAD, the Tashkent Institute of Textile and Light Industry, and the RepublicanArtCollege students who presented theatre costumes. The display also showed fairy tale character costumes – they were all created by students under the guidance of their pedagogues.
Young people actively engaged in roundtable discussions on the current art-related issues. Following the established tradition, there was a documentary film show on the art of Uzbekistan and that of individual artists. One of the films was dedicated to suzane and the country’s applied arts and crafts in general; the other told about the SavitskyStateArt Museum of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. Books and catalogues published by the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan were also presented.
Famous artists delivered master-classes for students of art colleges and universities, as well as for anyone eager to take them. Alisher Mirzaev, the People’s Artist of Uzbekistan, Academician of the AAUz, chose still life for his master-class; he created it in pastel crayons, one of his favorite tools. He said that for students the master class and the art week in general was a communication experience that gave them better knowledge about different domains of art.
Artist Damir Urazaev held a master class on xylography, one of the most difficult techniques he mastered perfectly. His prints illustrate a collection of poems “The Drop” by Zulfiya, “Martin Eden” by Jack London, “Songs about Tashkent”, publications dedicated to the 2200th anniversary of the capital city, etc. Small circular pieces (8-12 cm in diameter) of box-tree wood that is 800 years old are used by the master to create true masterpieces. Participants could not only watch the process of creating the classic black and white woodcuts, but also received prints from the artist as gifts, each of them unique.
The final chord was the award ceremony for the participants of the Art Week + 5 festival who received gold and silver medals, diplomas and memorable gifts.
The festival is over, but it will keep coming back every year, bringing new names, and ideas. This was confidently declared by the Chairman of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan Akmal Nuridinov who made a great contribution to the Art Week. For the first time the event acquired an international status, and a number of diplomatic missions expressed their willingness to participate in it next time.