Today, different youth culture related issues become relevant worldwide, as the spiritual and ideological priorities of young people determine the future of not only art culture, but also of all the valuable gains achieved by humankind in different areas. Experts define youth culture as a certain cultural domain that unites people of a certain age. Taking into account age psychology is particularly important as “it leaves a strong mark on spirituality and mentality”. Youth culture, as noted by a German researcher L. Hauser, is “a way to express the process of searching and developing a worldview”.
Young people of Uzbekistan take an active part in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the country. This process is informed by important large-scale cultural events organized by the Forum for Culture and Art of Uzbekistan Foundation, including festivals such as Yangi Avlod, Kelajak Ovozi, and Navkiron Uzbekiston. The Navkiron Uzbekiston 2012 Festival, held this year for the fifth time, started at the end of August, on the eve of Independence Day. Its co-organizers were the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan and the Young People’s Art Centre.
Over the years the Festival has become a long-awaited event for creative young people in Uzbekistan – an opportunity to expose their works performed in the last two years in different genres of fine and applied arts, architecture, industrial design, and actual art. The age of the Festival participants ranges from 17 to 35. Among them are art school students, as well as accomplished young authors who already have professional training in arts. The festival is also open to young craftsmen who studied with older generation masters under the traditional ustoz-shogird [master-to-apprentice] system. Preparations for the festival began in May 2012 with the collection of the participants’ resumes, followed by the submission of their works, of which an expert panel selected items for an exhibition. The panel comprised renowned artists, traditional master-craftsmen, and designers.
Today, young people have access to a beautiful Young People’s Art Centre situated in the central part of Tashkent, which was built in 2008 on the initiative of the head of state in the Year of Youth. The Centre has large exhibition halls, specialized equipment, a recording studio, children’s fine art and dance studios, and a cinema/concert hall for 720 seats. Our visits to different countries of the CIS and beyond to attend various art-related events have confirmed that presently no other country can boast a facility comparable to the Young People’s Art Centre.
Over the four years of operation the Young People’s Art Centre has become one of the leading cultural centres of Uzbekistan. It regularly hosts national and international exhibitions, concerts, festivals, the Art Week, meetings and presentations. The place is a kind of crossroads of different trends in contemporary art with its many forms and genres that encourage young people to explore new creative pursuits.
The number of the Navkiron Uzbekiston participants keeps growing. The display of the 2012 Festival, which occupied almost the entire space of the Young People’s Art Centre, included about 2,500 exhibits. This suggests that the festival becomes a massive, broad-based event.
As for the quality parameters of the Festival, one has to mention a certain evolution of the youth art in Uzbekistan. Surely, young people should preserve the best traditions of culture and develop them further. At the same time, youth culture represents a special social and spiritual space that has its own values, which it cultivates. Young people are known to create new aesthetic picture of the world. They have their own way of conceptualizing aesthetic qualities of the world, introducing new notions to the old concepts such as beauty, taste, ideal, image, time and space. Contemporary youth art is characterized by play-based form, theatricality and carnivalization, its place and time being “here and now”…
The Festival’s display started with a section dedicated to architecture and design projects that demonstrated bold and imaginative ideas of young designers. This was reflected both in the choice of themes, and in their spatial implementation. Problems of urban environment and architectural design are relevant in many countries of the world. Uzbekistan’s contemporary school of architecture, being based on unique centuries-old traditions, is characterized by interesting creative solutions. Another confirmation of this have been the works of young designers such as H. Zakirov (design and architecture solution for the “Boychechak” recreation facility), D. Sorokina (design project for the Graduate School of Choreography), D. Eryomina (design project for a playground in a residential complex in Tashkent), A. Filyaeva (architectural infrastructure design for the “Jeiran” eco-centre in Bukhara), A. Stoychenko (reconstruction design of a glass-case spatial environment in the central part of the city), A. Kasyanenko (architectural infrastructure design of a parkland in Tashkent ), and others.
The most representative in terms of numbers was the easel painting section displaying a wide range of items: from academic realism to actual art. It is not just about specific works, authors or styles, but about them representing artistic consciousness of contemporary young artists and that spiritual domain they create, which will define the art of tomorrow.
Most of the realistic works were landscapes and still-life, many of them wrought quite professionally. The authors, including Sh. Kurbanov (“Rural Landscape”), F. Umarov (“Springtime”), M. Kholov (“Gilon”), I. Alibekov (“Early Spring”) and others, have been able to communicate their admiration with the beauty of their native land.
The art of the East evolved as a coherent artistic system, one of the key morphogenetic principles of which is decorativeness; and the Festival’s display proves it with its fancy patterns, colourfulness, and intricate shapes. In Uzbekistan’s painting, decorativeness originally was not a plastic instrument only, but the means of artistic representation of reality, and “the specific feature of the national tradition” (1).
The finest traditions of decorative painting live on in the works such as “The Great Silk Road” by D. Sohibov, “Uzbek Persimmon” by Sh. Agzamhojaev, “Feelings” by A. Faizullin, “Zero Gravity” and “The Seasons” by E. Lyapina, “Contemplation” by B. Suvonov, and “Sister” by O. Allabergenov. The “Colour” project created by a group called “Circle and…”, which represented a search for artistic solutions by each individual author of a particular colour, was complemented by a performance involving girls painted in certain colours.
The art of the young painters also reflects an associatively metaphorical trend that emerged in the pictorial art of Uzbekistan in the 1970s. For example, U. Saidov uses philosophical generalization to experiment with the known idioms and signatures of traditional culture such as isryk (harmel herb), a horseshoe, and traditional footwear. The project titled “The Opposites” by the “Circle and …” group aimed at exploring the concept of antithesis by each of its members: through the contrasting images of their contemporaries, contrasting colours, male and female elements… The young painters aspire to broaden the conceptual bases of their worldview, finding adequate plastic solutions for them. In general, the young authors’ painting is characterized by a high level of professionalism. Unfortunately, however, there are no prominent leaders. The works of many young artists show petty themes, the absence of an interesting storyline, timid experimentation with colour, composition or rhythm, and, most importantly, a world view that is still evolving, with no stance of its own.
The show’s graphic art section was a delight, especially knowing that in the previous years young graphic artists were hardly present at the Festival. Their increased professionalism is noteworthy – both in terms of the themes they explored, and workmanship. Despite the challenge of expressing themselves in black-and-white format, some authors have been able to create vivid and memorable compositions. These are “Homeland” by J. Rashidov, “Flora” by A. Tulaboev, “Sarchashma” and “The Bridge” by B. Turdiev, “Separation” and “Mankind” by S. Farmonov, “The Portrait of an Old Man” and “The Portrait of a Gypsy Woman” by N. Abzalova, “Freaks” by U. Azimjanova, etc.
The sculpture section was quite interesting. If four years ago only two sculptors took part in the Festival, this year’s event featured many interesting authors and sufficient number of mature and creatively wrought pieces. Young sculptors presented their works in different methods of contemporary art: realism, avant-garde, and post-modernism. It was rewarding to look at the works by P. Makarov, creative and searching young sculptor. The range of his pursuits turned out to be quite big: from traditional sculpture in chamotte to experimentation in constructivist style. The artistic quest of J. Annazarov has been ongoing for a few years now. In his “The Horezmian Man” and “A Lady Who Owns a Pearl” one can notice greater mastery and a bent for associatively metaphorical allegory. B. Khakimov employs symbolism to convey his feelings for the city he loves. Ever appealing to sculptors is the image of a woman that was symbolically rendered by N. Negmatov in his “Female Torso”, G. Abdullaeva in her “Eminence”, and R. Abduganiev in “Phrygia”.
It is gratifying to note that sculpture develops not only in Tashkent, but also in other parts of the country. Thus, the Kokand art college is now base for a group of young sculptors working under the guidance of their teacher A. Isanoliev. Metaphor in the works of Isanoliev (“Doira Player”, “Mastona”, and “Future”) and his student Y. Mirzaakbarov dwells on the plastic rendering of the natural shapes of a stone processed by the authors into expressive outlines. Sculptures “Melancholy 1”, “Melancholy 2”, “Mashrab”, and “Dream” by N. Negmatov are more conventional. Largely, the young sculptors aspire to lend emotionally expressive and metaphorical flavour to their pieces.
A delight to the viewers and art critics was a section dedicated to art photography, which has long since taken its place in the cultural life of the country. Young photography artists who presented their works at the Festival proved that modern photography in Uzbekistan can not only be about reporting, but also be highly artistic, demonstrating creative approach to the chosen topic, perspective and composition. Laconicism, subtle monochrome blend, and aesthetic taste characterize pictures taken by N. Sunnatova and O. Hajieva. The sights of Uzbekistan’s historical cities, portrait types and the elements of natural environment that feature in the works of many art photographers are not just a visual transmission, but a memorable image, filled with spirituality and aestheticism in its portrayal of life.
Young people are always sensitive to new trends in contemporary art. In the youth art of Uzbekistan, actual art merits special attention. Successful exhibition projects have been “Case-box” by A. Lomanov and “Brawler’s Fate” by M. Gaibullina, where the conventional language of postmodernism expresses philosophical reflections of the authors. Thus, Lomanov’s “Case-box” shaped as an elephant is a capacious metaphor telling of how a nonentity can feel important and big when it puts on a case-box. “Brawler’s Fate” by M. Gaibullina represents hand palms with ropes for the lines of life, which get untied as time expires… Also eye-catching was D. Razikov’s project called “Manuscript”, telling of countless manuscripts, texts and information sources, which have not been claimed by man. People read and absorb only a tiny fraction of information, while most of it remains outside their field of vision and use. Quite surprising in its rendition was an installation titled “In a Flash” by N. Rasulov.
A special section of the display was given to video-art, which, being a specific kind of multimedia art, has become particularly popular among young artists over the past two years. Placed at the junction of pictorial art and cinematography, it allows artist to express themselves more fully. Represented at the Festival by the works of T. Poroshina, E. Derevenets, K. Ikramova, A. Shtensel, M. Sadykova, K. Zuffarova, V. Kim, K. Tyurina, and L. Shabaeva, video-art amazed the audience with its thematic, semantic and stylistic diversity: from the details of specific material world to the idea of harmony between man and nature.
Decorative and applied art section was represented by young authors working in the domain of traditional crafts and non-traditional art forms. The dominant feature of the display was ceramics, mostly wrought in a non-traditional style and characterized by liberal creative pursuits. The works of young ceramists Z. Kadyrov, O. Gulova, B. Turdiev, M. Maksumova, and M. Beknazarov reflect the expressivity of plastic form, experiments with ornamentation, and the desire to use small form art to express abstract and symbolic categories: the seasons, birth, Oriental songs, renaissance…
A high level of professionalism was also noted among representatives of gold embroidery art that in the XIX century Bukhara was the prerogative of men, who are now returning into the trade. For instance, items created by K. Mahamatov, including the “BloomingGarden” screen, stand out not only by their professional workmanship and the author’s knowledge of authentic traditions of the ancient craft, but also by his refined sense of poeticism. One should note a certain “easel-ization” of this art form. Mounted into a frame, panel “Star” by K. Yakhshibaeva, composition “Mahitoban”, panels “Namoyon” and “Suzane” by Z. Juraeva appear to pretend being equal to a painting. Still, the works keep the basic material, technology, ornamentation and stitching technique (gulduzi, zaminduzi, pulakchaduzi) and, rather than merely replicating traditions of the past, they carry a spirit of today. With support of the state policy aimed at reviving historical and cultural heritage, young craftsmen actively engage in bringing back forgotten traditions, not only acquiring a professional skill in the process, but also reflecting their perception of the world through one or the other ancient art form.
Embroidery at the Festival was represented by the works of young woman-masters such as N. Musajanova and D. Narzullaeva. This traditional craft, revived over the years of independence in different local centres, is also pursued by young artists.
In the non-traditional arts and crafts section it was mostly tapestry and batik. These arts are also experiencing “easel-ization”. Tapestries by N. Kan, T. Poroshina, D. Bekchanova, and Sh. Bositova, just as contemporary easel painting, show a wide and diverse range of themes: famous miniature subjects, poetic images, landscapes, and natural phenomena, such as springtime, dawn, etc. Many works are performed in realistic manner or in an abstractly metaphorical style. Despite the easel-based solutions, tapestries are intended for interior decoration. They are filled with colour and light and emanate positive energy.
Consonant with tapestries are the batiks created by the young authors. Today, batik is used not only in scarves and fashion design, but also in framed compositions. The subjects of the batik works are decorative floral compositions, and also “drama”, such as city life, portrait images, and even abstract designs.
The Navkiron Uzbekiston Festival has demonstrated great interest of the young authors in the art of jewellery-making, miniature painting, wood carving, puppet-making, traditional weaving, and metal chasing. For instance, in miniature painting, two trends can be clearly identified: the preservation of traditional style, images, and subjects of medieval miniature, and the introduction of modern themes into miniature painting. Jewellery created by M. and B. Dadamuhamedov, F. Yusupova, B. Tairov, K. Kenzhaeva, H. Salahitdinova and others has demonstrated a high level of skill of the young artists and their desire to master the centuries-old tradition while bringing in some contemporary elements. High professional standards were shown in the items wrought by wood-carvers from Tashkent S. Muratov, S. Shermuhamedov, T. Gaziev and B. Mavlonov. The authors introduce a certain degree of innovation into the range of traditional products such as carved tables, jewel-boxes, laukh book stands and pencil-boxes: they modify some shapes and try to synthesize wood-carving with lacquer miniature, while following the traditional techniques and decorative order.
A separate section of the exhibition was dedicated to fashion design – an art form that received a good impetus for development through different large-scale projects of the Forum Foundation. The works of M. Magdieva, M. Mirvohidova, D. Ataeva, R. Shakirova, S. Akhmedova, I. Mahkamova, N. Subhanova, Z. Kushakova and many other young designers have demonstrated a wide range of creative experimentation. The display featured fashion collections made with the use of traditional textiles and accessories, as well as European style fashion.
The Festival program also included workshops and master-classes delivered by famous artists and master-craftsmen of the country, such as the Honoured Artist of Uzbekistan, sculptor D. Ruzybaev; the Honoured Artist of Uzbekistan, set designer and painter Sh. Abdumalikov; ceramist A. Avakyan; the People’s Master of Uzbekistan, Academician of the AAUz N. Kholmatov; and graphic artist A. Mamajanov. Quite interesting was the discussion of the Festival’s display, conducted in the form of an open and frank conversation, exchange of opinions, views and reflections on contemporary art, its problems and ways to address them. Renowned artists, craftsmen, designers, and Festival participants took part in the discussion.
The Navkiron Uzbekiston Festival of traditional and contemporary art is the territory of experiment and the discovery of new names in the youth art, for the development of which the independent Uzbekistan has created the most conductive environment.
1. Акилова К. Б. Проблема интерпретации народного искусства в станковой живописи Узбекистана 1970-1980-х гг. Дисс. канд. искусствоведения. Ташкент, 1989.