Art is a world whose mysteries can only be learned by a true creator of beauty refracted through the prism of his ego. What is the origin of a masterpiece? What is the secret of success of an author who skilfully combines keen observation with bold imagination in canvas, wood, metal, music book, or film? An exhaustive answer to these questions may never be found. Undoubtedly, environment and mentors play a major role in the evolution and development of an artist. Often the awareness of purpose in life dawns on one in a creative laboratory, and, for a young author, a vocational art school should become such a laboratory. So is the firm belief of the Chair of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan, People’s Artist of Uzbekistan, Academician of the AAUz, and a renowned painter Akmal Nuridinov who shared with us his ideas on the attainments, challenges and prospects of art education in the country.
- Akmal Vahobjanovich, last year, the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan celebrated its 15th anniversary. The institution gives priority not only to art-related research and promotion, but also to academic and education activity. What progress has been made in professional training, support to talented youth, and improving material and technical provision for the art institutions?
- Today, with the help of new public investment in the domain of art, the government builds new and reconstructs existing buildings across the country to accommodate art colleges, lyceums and universities. Soon the Behzad National Institute of Arts and Design will move to new premises. A new building for the vocational boarding school of arts in the city of Navoi is about to be commissioned. Construction and reconstruction of specialist schools are planned in Namangan and Uchkurgan, in Turtkul District of Andijan Province, in Samarqand and Nukus… In Kokand, unfortunately, these schools are in lamentable condition. It would help to include them in the reconstruction plan, at least for the year 2014.
Importantly, for the year 2013 the Cabinet of Ministers instructed all 12 provinces to plan for meetings between young people and renowned masters of brush, and to organize master-classes as part of exhibitions to be attended by both the older generation artists, and college students. At the Behzad Memorial Garden-Museum they created a separate exhibition hall for young talents. Here, in 2012, then supported by the Academy of Arts, several solo and group exhibitions took place. We plan to continue to support promising young artists. When I attended the 9th Congress of the International Confederation of Artist Unions in Moscow, we agreed that once a year young masters from Uzbekistan would be given an opportunity to improve their skills free of charge at the “Senezh” Centre of Arts and Recreation. The Confederation has provided supplies, such as paints and canvas, for young talented artists. However, despite the country’s efforts to aid the development of artistic abilities of young people, there are some internal, art-related challenges.
- What, in your view, are the deficiencies in young artists training, and how to overcome them?
- The point is that our art schools accept applications from anyone, including graduates of colleges that are irrelevant to the profile of our art universities. In my view, lest talented people be left “overboard”, universities should admit graduates of specialist art colleges, boarding schools and lyceums. I believe it right that the Cabinet of Ministers instructed the Republican Test Centre to equal the university passing score with the points scored in specialist subjects during the 2012-2013 entrance examinations. I also think that more art-related questions should be included in the tests. Our students have to read a lot of relevant literature to be adequately trained not only practically, but also theoretically.
- Your opinion on the standard of contemporary art criticism literature?
- To produce training material on arts is an important task that needs to be addressed soon. Contemporary literature is rather mediocre, so to say, while earlier high-quality publications are in short supply. Another problem is that an artist is often not a good book writer, no matter how gifted he is. Perhaps, there is a need to work with art critics, and generally bring art criticism theory to a new level of quality to make young people interested in it. All kinds of projects can help, and “Ego” is one of them.
- In your view, will the new professional qualifications in university programs galvanize young people’s interest in arts?
- On the contrary; I think their number should be reduced: art schools cannot be many, as there cannot be many geniuses. One has to be able to discern the applicant’s personality. There is a particular need to reduce the number of students in fashion design departments, since not all their graduates devote themselves to the high art; many just open custom-made apparel shops. This is particularly true for the National College of Arts, where admission to this department is disproportionately large compared to the school’s other departments. One of the most important objectives for the college is to create good creative atmosphere among students and teachers. To this end, the AAUz seconded its academics to work as student mentors at the college. Young people’s development should start at the initial stages of art education, otherwise, who are we going to teach at the universities? In 2013, the Academy of Arts intends to focus on this particular level of education. Colleges and lyceums face many a problem that need to be resolved.
- In your opinion, what qualifications should be accentuated?
- Certainly painting, sculpture, theatre and historical costume, set design… To the list one may also add national applied arts, such as traditional oriental painting, ganch plaster-carving, and wood carving – the art that must not be lost.
- One major incentive for the young artists’ creative development is their exposure to global culture and professional training opportunities. How do you see the prospects of cooperation with foreign countries in the area of education?
- Currently the Behzad National Institute of Arts and Design cooperates with five universities of South Korea, which will soon be hosting some of our art history students. Proposals to cooperate in the field of education have also been received from the Warsaw Fine Arts Academy and Belgian Royal Academy. We are working to establish relations with Ukraine, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan. There is a plan to implement a sculpture student exchange project with the Academy of Arts of Azerbaijan, where this art form is given a lot of attention.
Our primary objective is to support young prodigies and identify talents – those who will be worthy of representing the art of our country in the future and delight the viewer with their art.