The well-known saying, “Give up the benefits of life before you die,” the artist Fayzulla Ahmadaliev heard already, when he was attending a school. He knew that this saying belongs to his fellow countryman – Ahmad Yassavi, who was also born in the village of Sayram. But then, in his young years, he did not grasp the full depth of these words, considering them even unpleasant. His memory remembers the Soviet times, when the work of the poet Yassavi used to be interpreted as mystical, retrograde and theological. Over time, the young Fayzulla experienced many hardships, he felt the greatness of this sayings, and with creation of a cycle of works about the dervishes and Sufis began to understand its essence, which, in his opinion, means that it is necessary to perceive that everyone is mortal, the frailty of the world, and through this vision to comprehend the truths and the values, importance of living and working overcoming the hardships of one’s destiny. Over the years, having reached the age of the Prophet, he understood that intuitively he followed the precept of this saying, thank to which he was able to withstand the crooks and all the hardships of life, that have opened all the doors for him. Tempered by time, the artist is now ready to overcome any ordeals. Each time, opening the books of the great Sufi – Ahmad Yassavi, Jaloliddin Rumi, Abdurahman Jami, or Alisher Navoi he is inspired by the feeling of love and peace, which in his art he transforms into the symbols that are used as the key to unlock the essence of philosophy and goal in life.
Paintings of sophistic current the artist can sometimes present to the audience in the form of Oriental rug, suzane, blanket, dastarkhan, kerchief with trimming along the edge. All these objects from ancient times were symbolizing the wealth, abundance, fate and destiny of a human being, his hopes and dreams. Ideas saturated with Sufism dominate in the creative works of F. Ahmadaliev in recent years. According to the artist, he began to abandon the use of the realistic technique somewhere around the nineties of the last century. At that period, the training workshop of the All-Union Academy of Fine Arts was opened in Tashkent, which was headed by the famous artist Rahim Akhmedov. “Everyone who was trained in that workshop, have become the avant-garde segment of the fine art of our country. Among them are Akmal Ikromjonov, Sobir Rakhmetov, Rahmon Shodiev, Bahtiyar Mahkamov, Rahim Rizamuhamedov, Akmal Nur, Mukhtor Esanov, Ortikali Kozokov, Jamol Usmanov, Ablakim Turdiev and many others. Artist, recalling that period of time, says: “We were given the studio in our disposition, so we could create, and we were getting a modest salary. We worked and at the same time we learn from each other. The search for new ways, trends and directions has begun at that time. Then I have created the paintings that were far from realism. I have begun to look in a very different perspective to my childhood and adolescence.”
The compositional structure of the artist’s paintings “Three dervishes” seems simple: pale lines across the disk of the moon in the sky, in the half-light, the dervishes sitting in different positions. For better perception the landscape is built at certain angles. Although the appearance of the dervishes is surprising, yet the soul of a viewer experiences peace and tranquility. Lifting the veil over the mysterious world of the Dervishes, which has accumulated the wisdom of two worlds and eternal pilgrim of the sky – the Moon – the fourth Dervish, the artist portrays the life of the Dervishes with the help of philosophical and poetic symbols and comparisons, allegorical solutions, calls for reflection about the lifestyle of the Dervishes, who overcome the challenges at their path to good and to holy love. Dervishes are present in the series of works created by the artist: “Water Carrying Dervish” (1990), “The Lonely Caravan” (1990), “The Wall” (“Dervishes”, 2001), “The Heart of Dervish” (2000), “Sleeping Dervish” (2000), “Three Dervishes” (2004).
The symbolism used in the paintings is typical of his other works. However they are not identical. His works do not accumulate a huge amount of literary images and famous characters of literature and poetry of the East. In his paintings, one can rather see the glimpses of distant memories and locations created according to the Eastern traditions. His creations, although painted in modern style, depiction of events on the canvas does not go beyond the national aesthetics. Creative imagination of the artist and his experience impregnate the themes and images, revealing the basic trend of his art. Fiction in his paintings goes along with the reality that, in its turn, helps to reform the established views in cognition of real life. F. Ahmadaliev in his painting art is committed to sincere expression of his view of the events (“Midnight”, “Landscape of Khumsan”, 2000; “Life”, 2008; “The People of Mahalla” (sketch), 2000).
Symbols of Light and Good, F. Ahmadaliev depicts not only using the bright, saturated colors, but the modest, pastel colors as well. His paintings do not picture the perpetual confrontation in the world, the captivating metamorphosis. They represent the imaginary and real world, the space with conditionality of events, where the actual and imaginative images are interlaced. Conventionality of life and its games, paint strokes, referring to the distant past and the unknown future, do not distract the viewer from the main subject of the picture. It seems like the pensive look of depicted persons is far from the bustle, is dignified and proud. His painting, “The Involvement”, F. Ahmadaliev brought closer to the metaphysical picture, urging the viewer to the mystery of communion. The charm of mystery, the fragility of unspoken thoughts and at the same time the alerting abrupt change in delicate shapes create appeal to postmodernist interpretation. Depiction in the diluted tones and semitones, capable to stir up the tenderest feelings, able to convey the true essence of the tables of memory. The artist’s method is designed to focus the viewer’s attention to clarify and reveal the target of painting. This naturally demanded strength is seen in the many-sided compositions showing the images of the carnival character and plastic findings painted in brown and black.
Contemporary pictorial art does not consist only out of the game of shape and color, but also of the “array” of feelings and captivating elements that do not carry any meaning, of the infinite horizons that open the view of the world nobody has ever seen. From this perspective, F. Ahmadaliev’s art is modern and sincere. His painting is dominated by the memories and the ethnic culture of the nation, and this is his barrier against the threat of “mass culture”. Currently, there is a need not only to protect the culture, but also to enhance the diversity of the biosphere. The artist addresses these issues building on the past and relying on the present. For example, his painting “The Caravan” (2010), although there is a commitment to historical costumes of a particular epoch, time, and place, they are not subject to certain standard. The artist focuses attention of a viewer specifically on the active colors putting them with a single, continuous, monotonous stroke depicting the appearance of his character: his outfit, hat, jewelry. Using this method, the master works with the human figure and its various postures, continuing the best practices of the masters of miniature painting – Kamaliddin Behzad, Mir Saeed Ali, Mahmoud Muzahhib, Murad Samarqandi.
In a palette of colors in the works of F. Akhmadaliev, priority is given to the warm shades. Accordingly, the halftones completing them reveal the essence of a distant forgotten past, fragments of dreams and cosmic views. In 2006, the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, known as “Kunstkamera” (St. Petersburg) hosted an exhibition “Oriental Fantasies. Russian Avant-Garde and Silk of Bukhara”, where the paintings of Russian avant-garde artists of the collection of the Museum of Arts of Uzbekistan have been presented to from the collection, as well as the fabrics, jewelry, and rarities of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. The painting consonant to the Uzbek fabrics created by the artists like Djavlon Umarbekov, Lekim Ibragimov Fayzulla Ahmadaliev, Khurshid Ziyahanov, Imyar Mansurov, Gafur Kadyrov, Shavkat Khakimov, and Shahnoza Abdullaeva have been demonstrated there. The mysterious signs and figures of the fabrics in the painting of F. Akhmadaliev – “The Path of Truth” (Dedication to Sufism, 2002), sounded up to date. “The form in the avant-garde art has the same importance as in the Islamic art. In the former it is “conceptual”, while in the latter it is “holy”, says the art critic Nigora Ahmedova. Both views are reflected in the creative pieces of the artist Ahmadaliev.
Attention in the work of F. Akhmadaliev is paid to the faces of women and children, the appearance of the older people (“Two Mothers”, 2001; “Madonna of Afrasiab”, 2002; “Sisters”, 2005; “Motherhood”, 2010), in which the artist depicts a poetic vision of ancient culture and traditions of the village Sairam, where he spent his childhood, using the symbols and metaphors (“Shadows of Sayram”, 2000). Turning away from the established traditional methods, the artist is looking for the new ways and means of expressing. The viewer may quickly perceive the conventional plastic forms and poetic approaches, however not everyone grasps the essence. Their aesthetic measure to some extent apparently corresponds to the requirements of the miniature. The paints reminding the color of the mud walls, the ratio of brown and gold, traditional adornments, satin, silk, adras, drawings, majolica, and so on, are associated with ceramics. These paintings do not have any specific story, however they affect the viewer’s memory, recalling the certain associations: images of the pilgrims, Sufis, Dervishes, Rovies and contemporaries that visually appear. The artist originally aimed to cause with the viewer exactly this state of mind: astonishment, delight, sadness, joy, discovering the inner self, pride, patience, compassion, the call for a closer relationship with the environment and people. Looking at his creations such as, in particular, “The Smokers of Kalian” (2010); “The Sufis Assembly” (2011); “The Caravan of Life” (2012); “Bakhouddin Naqshband” (2012); “Generations” (2004); “Continuation of Life” (2003), the distant past, the traditions for a moment fascinate the viewers and urge them to escape from the noisy, hectic city life.
Depicting animals, the artist sees them in terms of the relationship to nature and a human being. A persistent image of the she-wolf Tashchaynara of Chingiz Aitmatov’s novel “Kunda”, F. Ahmadaliev has introduced into his picture. Today, this painting, which is in collection of the State Museum of Arts of Uzbekistan, excites the viewers. Impressed by this novel the artist has created several pieces, but still regrets that he did not show them to the writer. Looking at the painting of F. Akhmadaliev – “The Hunter from the Issyk Kul” (2004), brings to mind the writer’s novel “Falling Mountains”. But in the painting the hunter, unlike his prototype, symbolizes not evil, but a care about the nature. Sitting on a good horse, with a falcon on his hand and a decorated dombra, the hunter is the personification of kindness. But how one can recognize the limits of good, is there any benchmark to measure it? The answer to these questions the artist is looking for in the pages of the past – the thoughts and aspirations of the Sufis. Works that reflect the reality cannot be described as mystical. They contain the elements of time. Space, signs and symbols act as its conditional images. Sometimes it seems that some items and characters are not located quite right, as if they have no correlation. But the overall dynamics, which subordinated the symbols, looks, and gestures of the characters make a viewer think. Series of the paintings of F. Ahmadaliev dedicated to the residents of Bukhara and Khiva is a clear example of it: “One day in Bukhara” (2001), “Khivans” (2002), “The Citizens of Bukhara” (2005), “Ornaments of Khiva” (2006), “The Courtyard in Khiva” (2004), “Ancient History of Bukhara” (2012). The viewers are wondering: “What is hidden behind the tall walls and fences of the majestic homes, in the small courtyards of the old cities?” Although their eyes are riveted to the people lined up, jewelry and bright fabrics, for some reason the pictures, close to the heart, gentle, and mysterious appear in the viewers’ mind: the altar, the candle on the shelf, old books on the chest, hearth, two trees, adjoining rooftops, red poppies growing on them, all of these images involuntarily reminding of one’s childhood. The warmth, radiated by the picture, expands one’s perception, enhances spirituality. The viewer is convinced that every work of art is tied-in with spirituality. That is why the world of fine art comes to life, invocating pure, bright ideas. The hidden becomes apparent, the world of dreams and reveries triumphs in the painting of white color. Sometimes the artist depicting animals seeks to express by means of metaphors his attitude towards the nature and society: “Thief Bird” (2005), “She-Wolf” (2005), “The Horse” (2008), The Queen of Birds” (2000).
Starting from the nineties of the last century, F. Ahmadaliev is actively engaged in the art of installation. Traditions, values, Oriental etiquette, linking the present with the past, are clearly visible in the portrayals of people of different generations, which shows his installation “Through the Ages” (dimension 400х90). The work is done in black and white graphics. At the “Constellation” exhibition, held in the workshops of Tashkent Experimental Electromechanical Plant, installation – “X-Position” (Fayzulla Ahmadaliev, Jamal Usmanov) is devoted to the global issues of present day. It depicts the world devastated by the rats and humans. Naturally, the project is enriched by the broad figurative thinking of its authors. The artist’s world is immense; it has the countless number of springs that feed it.
I spoke with F. Akhmadaliev about the exhibition of four Uzbek artists (Fayzulla Ahmadaliev, Jamol Usmanov, Bobur Ismailov, Murad Korabaev) that was held in the halls of the Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow, about the status of the artist today. Fayzulla presented me a catalog of the exhibition. Looking through it, I recalled his thoughts regarding the Great Silk Road that he expressed earlier.
The art of Fayzulla Ahmadaliev has been deservedly recognized: in 2013 he was awarded with “Dustlik” decoration, he is a winner of Grand Prix of a number of the International Biennale, his pieces of art are in demand among the private collectors and museums. All that is a result of continuous work, patience and total dedication, a fruit of the search of new ways in the art.