For painter Ibragim M. Valihojaev each canvas is a quest for the way to create and find the harmony of shape and colour. Perhaps this aspiration to express himself is the key to the master’s success. The works of Valihojaev, winner of the Gold Medal of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan, are kept in the country’s museums, private collections and galleries in the United States, Canada, Italy, France, South Korea and other countries.
Project “The Origin” presented by the master along with other Uzbek artists at the XV Moscow International Art Show “CHA-2012: The Roads We Fare” drew a wide response. All works by Valihojaev displayed under the project have been acquired by connoisseurs of art. Great success with the Tashkent audience was his solo exhibition “21 days in Montenegro” that ran at the metropolitan exposition venue “Uzbekistan’s Culture and Art Exhibitions” of the Ministry for Culture and Sports of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
According to the artist, he seeks to “run away” from nature, to go against the established rules and canons of art. “Nature is the best artist and we cannot copy its creations. One should find his own way to paint”, says he. Heartfelt beauty of the colour vanguard, competent formulation and solution of compositional problems, and symbolism of images are the basis of the method employed by Valihojaev – artist whose colours are the seven notes of music producing a unique sound on a canvas.
Valihojaev’s studio is like an art gallery. Canvases create a special atmosphere in the artist’s “laboratory”. The walls seem to be just a screen for a painting “movie”. Pictures carry a powerful energy charge.
The heartbeat of life is clearly sensed in more than 40 sketches the master created in Montenegro. Valihojaev is the first representative of Uzbekistan who took part in the international plein air event “Montenegro 2012″ at the invitation of the contest panel of the Cultural Heritage International Foundation. Many of his works presented at his solo exhibition, though modestly defined as “sketches”, can be considered accomplished pieces. Majestic mountains emanate serenity; changing “moods” of the sea are masterfully communicated in “The Shore of Kotor Bay”, and “The Emerald Quay in Kotor”. Through the eyes of a wanderer who fell in love with the austere beauty of ancient architectural monuments one looks at “The Ancient City of Pirates”, “Saint George’s Island”, and “The Old Fort in Budva”. “Montenegro has a completely different colouring, shape and rhythm. All this came as a revelation to me”, says Valihojaev.
The more one learns about the master’s art, the more one admires his ability to use colour to communicate the sentiment, as well as subtle and elusive poetry of the moment. His “Skullcaps Market”, “Embroidery Market”, “Conversation”, and “At the Doorstep” that appealed so much to the participants and guests of the Moscow Show are painted with juicy and expressive colours of his native land warmed by the sun. And, as if to counterbalance them, come the turquoise-blue colours of Montenegro, rich in palette, but mostly cold, sometimes with metallic or silver sheen.
“The artist sees the world quite differently: it may be unrealistically contrasting colours and intricate shapes”, says Ibragim Mutalievich. The artist’s works feature a kind of intrinsic connection with cubism and futurism, with semi-abstract compositions typical for this painting trend, breaking objects into geometric shapes, finding their “fourth dimension” – time. Many note a relationship between Valihojaev’s art and the art of Henri Matisse, one of the founders of Fauvism who showed keen interest in “expression” and colour energy. Still, Valihojaev’s painting is unique and cannot be limited by the framework of a particular genre. Spiritual self-improvement is the creed of the master who never rests in his creative development.
It happened so that Ibragim, a young man from Namangan and a student of maestro Rahim Akhmedov, honing the academic precision of lines, got fascinated with the rhythms of colour relations. Painting techniques employed by the young artist were suggested to him not only by knowledge, but also by inspiration. In his hometown Ibrahim Valihojaev evolved as an extraordinary artist with a keen sense of slightest colour nuances. This was the place where he opened the first private gallery “Talisman” and chaired the Namangan branch of the Artists’ Union of Uzbekistan.
The master got his professional training in art at the Tashkent State Institute of Theatre and Art named after N. Ostrovsky (presently, the Behzad National Institute of Arts and Design).
“At the institute they taught us that there are no purely black or white colours”, says Valihojaev. “There must be no restrictions for the free artist. In my pictures I often use these colours together. Besides these, it is mostly warm colouring in red, yellow, ochre.”
Colouring is very important for Valihojaev. Yet he claims that composition plays no less significant, if not the primary role in his works. “The artist should be not a musician, but a composer”, says Ibragim Mutalievich. “If you find the right blot, line, or shape, you create rhythm, a kind of a music piece.”
Looking at the paintings of Ibragim Valihojaev one unwittingly turns from a viewer into a… listener: a folk tune so familiar to the local person from childhood can be heard in still-life, portraits, and landscapes.
The early works of the master are less contrasting or rhythmical; there is more lyricism to them. They are laconic and follow a common theme: “White Daylight”, “Holy Stones”, “Motherhood”, “Prayer”… In a low key, yet clearly one can hear the tune of Valihojaev the composer in his later colour-saturated pieces: “The Sound of Music” (the portrait of wife Nasima), “Rhythm of the Jar”, triptych “Harmony”, “Oriental Suite”, and “The Portrait of Sasha”.
Valihojaev’s paintings belong to different genres. Still, according to the artist, subject paintings constitute the core of his art. The master enjoys finding something new in ordinary things and moments and sharing it. He never imagines his potential audience, nor does he seek to please it. Much more important for the artist is to express himself. The main theme of his art is the images of his contemporaries, ordinary people, their environment, and all that concerns them.
For a long time oriental market was a source of inspiration for Ibragim Mutalievich. In 2011, one of such paintings, “Chorsu Bazaar”, was recognized as the best artwork of the year at the annual Top-art Awards ceremony.
Today, however, Valihojaev is already pursuing a different trend. Many of the sketches brought from Montenegro will undoubtedly translate into a number of remarkable works. Sketches, still made in pencil, are dedicated to the rural theme. The idea was born after a trip to Kashkadarya and Chust. The artist, when preoccupied by a subject, can give all his time and energy to it, aspiring to express his feelings and sentiment on the canvas. This is what happened was with a still-life series with flowers. His apprentices (mostly students of the Behzad National Institute of Arts and Design) brought different kinds of flowers to the master’s studio. Inspired by their fragile beauty, he remained at the easel and worked his “music”, striving not for a photographic accuracy, but for the rhythm. After all, Ibragim Valihojaev believes that it is the presence of rhythm, internal consistency, and harmony of colour and shape that distinguish a true work of art.