Nigora Akhmedova, Art Critic
Formation of creative ways of the sculptor, Tulyagan Tadjihojaev took place in the context of the most important transformations that changed all aspects of the sculpture of Uzbekistan in the mid-1970s, and, at the same time, the essentials of the characters and plot, genre boundaries, stylistic pursuits and aesthetic guidelines. Thanks to the creative efforts of young generation, whom T. Tadjihojaev entered in the art with during those quite regulatory years, the sculpture began to break free from the monotony, ideological cliches, boldly going out to the open spaces of new artistic pursuits. Young sculptors like T. Tadjihojaev, N. Karlyhanov, S. Karlyhanova, Mardiev, V. Gambarov, together with such a mature master D. Ruzibaev, have created a new world of images. Their plastic innovations proceeded from a fresh “reading” of ethnic and cultural heritage based on the modern understanding of the plastic objectives. The decorative possibilities of sculpture have enriched, inspired by the use of new materials, which is now is conceived more often in the green spaces of the city, the parks, carrying out functions of the landscape, decorative plastics. Most crucial impetus in the 1970s – 1980s for the development of the sculpture were cultural contacts between the artists of the national schools, participation of Uzbek masters in the international fora and symposia on sculpture and the challenges of the urban environment.
In the atmosphere of the artistic communication and creation, and thanks to the good background and his talent, T. Tadjihojaev has quickly passed the stage of adaptation to the independent work. In the forefront of the interest to decorative sculpture were created such pieces of clay as “Daedalus and Icarus” (1980), “The Rider” (1982), “The Dream” which is distinguished by its unique plot (1982), made of tuff, “Omar Khayyam” (1984), “Color Dreams” (1989), which not only illustrate the diverse artistic trends of the time, but in these heterogeneous by style and different textural properties of material that his pieces are made from, one can see how a young artist forms his angle of the interpretation of the multi-faceted and diverse nature of the world. They also contain an individual, always enthusiastic and original understanding of the modern problems of plastic by T.Tadjihojaev. So, one of his first pieces of art, “Who needs a tandoor?” (1982), made out of the coal clay, has become a kind of emblem of his searches of those years. This has been noted, in particular, by the renown Russian sculptor A. Tsigal, stressing that “the young artist T. Tadjihojaev reflected the new features that had to be developed in sculptural plastic of Uzbekistan”. Indeed, this small-scale work by T. Tadjihojaev to some extent has opened a new perspective in appealing to the motives of everyday life and his understanding of the genre and narrative in the national sculpture. Warm folk intonation, unpretentious story about the seller, slowly pulling his clay goods along the streets of the city, were embodied in a compact arrangement, which at the same time breathes of freedom and artistry. Everything in this piece of art urges to look at the sculpture in a new way, freeing it from the burden of past concepts, implicating a wide range of associations with the national way of life, traditions and folklore. The fact that this sculpture is being perceived as a part of a large Eastern city, comes from the artist’s ability to skillfully “include” in the composition, as a figurative element, a space. And this is present and interacts with the sculpture, creating a feeling of its organic belonging in this exact environment.
After a period of intense creative development the sculptor T. Tadjihojaev in his work relies on a variety of spiritual and aesthetic guidelines that he has deeply understood. After all, their influence on the artist is only an impulse that awakens associations, enriching the original plastic of the contemporary artist. Great impression on T. Tadjihojaev made museums that he had visited in different countries during international trips, especially his business trip to the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris. Not changing radically his background assumptions, these visits had deepened his understanding of the laws of harmony of the classical European plastic arts. It was there that he perceived the true greatness of the art of Michelangelo, who takes a special place in his artistic world.
Among the significant works of T. Tadjihojaev of the 1990s are noteworthy such pieces as “Melancholia” (1991), which “mood” seems to reflect that complicated period of time when it was created. The gesture means a desire to dissociate oneself from his surroundings and get immersed in his own thoughts. This sculpture is designed as an integral dimension of rich color of the coil, as though the shadows are climbing along its mild forms. The fluid lines almost hide the form and the state of mind of the sculptured character, as if wrapped in his solitude. It should be noted that the implementation of the artist’s plan required a special, in fact, not peculiar to T. Tadjihojaev techniques. “Melancholia” had set a trend, when the artist began to shift gradually from observational motifs and decorative forms to new principles of generalization, sometimes to the concise parable, allegory, endowing his art pieces with a new poetic sense.
During these years, the classical European traditions become a landmark in the creative quest of the artist, adding to his works, many of which are made of onyx, a high plastic culture, avoiding imitation, and, as Rodin said about the spirit of classical art – “the love of nature and sincerity”. In the “Torso” (1997), the ancient tradition is summarized and interpreted as poetry of the spiritual body. Let us remark here that such a classic type of sculpture as “torso” has a special influence and charm for the present day audience. In its fragmented approach, however, the main plastic theme not complicated with details is pronounced, In this “Torso” by T. Tadjihojaev again a slender female body seems to have gained the ability of movement and expression, it is flexible, pliable, and dashing. Looking at this piece, as well as the sculpture “Motherhood” (1991), one understands that an artist can be traditional and extremely individual. Plastic “charm” of the sculpture, as the hard stone of the ancient masters, in some amazing way conserves the unique touch of the artist’s hand. Later, in the 2000s, Tadjihojaev will develop this idea in the bronze (“Torso”, 2001).
Analyzing the change of the phases in the work of this sculptor, it is impossible not to notice that this logic of the development, each new product “remembers” all previously created pieces. The artist retains his own tradition of continuity. So, over time, he turned again to the fire clay, but choosing this material again he began to work quite differently. Tadjihojaev already back in the day liked its natural beauty, its warmth and strength, technical diversity of its processing. Now, when he has a more complex relationship to the poetic idea, enriched by the creative experience and the traditions of classical simplicity, it is not abolished, but softened the role of the decorative component of his new creations. Over the years, Tadjihojaev comes to the determination that interpretation of the classics is suitable for modernity too, which also strives to express itself through eternal values. An appeal to the decorative potential of the coal clay in the 1970s has changed the sculptural art of Uzbekistan that needed an update, and was considered as a sign of the modern age. Now the artist strives to portray an integral character, to achieve some plastic symphony, where the succinct and fairly concise form becomes a conduit for deep reflection. Inarticulate is a slim vertical lines of the figure in the “Waiting” (2001), a diagonal of the compact volume in the sculptures – “Melody” and “Wisdom” (2003). Of course, they could not appear without the experience acquired in the “torsos”, without the artist’s passion for classics, moreover, they pulsate with associations with the ancient Central Asian sculpture. In the “Melody” by Tadjihojaev the Eastern rhapsodist sings with his head thrown back and emits such sounds that they seem to come from the deepest corners of his heart, and it seems that they vibrate around. At ordinary level, it is expressed in the effect that has been very accurately explained by the composer, Mahler: “When I listen to the music, I hear absolutely clear answers to all my questions, and everything in me calms down and brightens”. Simple and precise design of this small sculpture with its ochre, rough surface, covered with chips and hollows, is full of actual connotations. The image has a peculiar charm because of its vagueness and new relationship between the form and the space.
The reference to the historical personalities that attracted many sculptors in the context of the national independence ideas has enriched the range of themes and creativeness of Tadjihojaev, who has created the images of such writers and poets as Navoi, Mashrab, Furkat, Mirtemir, Oybek. For many years the artist worked on the image of K. Bekhzad, creating his different interpretations in marble, bronze and granite. The sculpture “Bekhzad” (1998) made of bronze is one of the best. It attracts not with its monumental, but lyrical, intimate approach to the image of the great master. Again, as before, the sculptor has found the special plastic techniques – from the flattening of the form to the easy-to-read graphic and silhouette of the general design derived from the miniature. Also for the first time the artist has introduced the laconic details in the composition that resulted in a narrative, a certain story due to the new methods in his work: the graceful figure of Bekhzad with a rose in his hand beside a carved table, a tree branch, and overall style of Eastern sophistication and artistry in detail.
A completely different approach of T. Tadjihojaev to his works of bronze, such as “Running Over the Waves”, “The Duel”, “At the Start”, “Bearing Point”, “Football Players”. These are completely different sculptured pieces, but overall they have something in common, not only in the context of the theme of physical strength and energy of the body. The artist has his own understanding of the material, the ability to extract the plastic expression out of the interaction of rhythm, silhouette, and gleams. In these pieces he sees the space as a meaningful and emotional component of the composition, which makes the form pronouncedly three-dimensional.
I would not want to present something like a Eulogy to the artist who works a lot and is in search of new ideas. It should be noted that as every seeking artist, T. Tadjihojaev have also created such pieces, about which one can say – “it does not belong to him.” It is a pity that this mature and experienced master has not yet expressed his monumental gift to the full. For example, in Dagestan, Tadjihojaev together with M. Aliev has created a majestic monument “Partu Patimat”. The heroism and drama are totally undividable in this monument, which is dedicated to the great deed of the Caucasian Joan of Arc. This monument, made of the light colored material, is very organic amidst the vast space and light of the mountain terrain.
A kind of “abstract sculpture” of aluminum, offering the spectator a complex in shape and plastic associations, inherent to the plasticity of modernism, Tadjihojaev has accomplished for Ucell Company. Unusual for Tashkent object, installed on the street right in front of the office, is a demonstration of pure idea of the “form in space”. Tadjihojaev faces issues of novelty and tradition when working for the prizes for significant cultural and sporting events in our country. He is the creator of the “small sculptures” trend, who was able to infuse the sense in the art objects, each time to find a new figural dominant and original plastic symbol.
The artist strives to always adhere to this principle, whether working in stone, bronze or clay, making the images of the plastic properties of material. Circling around the sculpture “Who Needs Tandoor?”, admiring the beauty of the “Torso”, feasting your eyes on truthfully done “Bekhzad”, and in the portraits – enjoying the strict realism of characters, one can note the accurately expressed plastic character created in a unique manner.
Tulyagan Tadjihojaev in life and in art is a slow contemplative person. His art wins over by its self-containment, conscious restraint, and wise balance between the idea and its implementation. Fruitful art of this master suggests that one does not exist without the other, and everything is interlaced.