The Positive in Colors …

Issue #4 • 182

Ulbosyn Utegenova,
Art Critic

Life depicted in the paintings by Jenis Lepesov is bright; the juicy colors are very attractive, the silhouettes of the characters are striking by their uniqueness, they reflect such a peaceful and tranquil life, so much joy, happiness and energy of life, to which can be added a great potential of positive emotions… A merry music and a huge love of life can be “heard” in every brush stroke and in every line.
Jenis Lepesov is a gifted Karakalpak artist and an experienced mentor/teacher. The way he describes life, one can learn about his attitude towards both his own life and the people. He weeds out all the bad things, portraying a world in bright and colorful hues. However, this does not mean that the artist does not see the existing problems. Many of his works, J. Lepesov devoted to the death of the Aral Sea, its environmental consequences, as well as other challenges in our history. These are his graphic works from the “Aral” series, the scenic pictures – “The Tragedy of the Aral Sea”, “The Aralkum Desert”, “Fish”, “Mother and Child”, etc.
Many of his works the artist dedicates to the nature of Karakalpakstan and the seasons – “Autumn in Nukus”, “Kyzketken”, “Spring”, “Autumn Yard”, “Trees”, “Spring. The Apricot Trees in Bloom”, etc. Most of the works by J. Lepesov are stored in the Karakalpak State Museum of Art named after I. Savitsky, representing a part of the history of art of the Karakalpak school of painting along with the works of such outstanding masters as I. Savitsky, K. Saipov, J. Izentaev, F. Madgazin, B. Toguzbaev, F. Esengaliev, R. Matevosyan, A. Erimbetov, A. Utegenov, A. Shpade, J. Bekanov and others. A special place of the earlier period takes his painting “The Song”, where the entire canvas pictures three seated children. Their little mouths are open in a funny way; it is visible that they are singing from the bottom of their hearts. Like all works by this artist, “The Song” also has a unique flavor, decorativeness of the shapes and colors. The contrast ratio of the red, green, bright orange and blue recreates the mood and childishly naive, simple and, most importantly, a positive outlook on life.
The decorative depiction of the silhouettes and shapes both in painting and in graphics is peculiar for the works by J. Lepesov. For example, his graphic works of small size are interesting; however their plots make a monumental impact and are very attractive in their decorative design and harmonious color combinations. The contours of the lines intertwine, creating unusual patterns that turn into the images of human figures and faces. Such interpretation of idea is sometimes accompanied by the scenes from the past or contemporary life. “The Self-Portrait in a Hat” is one of these works, which is notable for its unusual interpretation of form and bright colors. The main trend of the artist’s work is a harmonious combination of contrasting colors and the related hues, by means of which the artist expresses his spiritual impulse. Along with the ornamentality, the artist’s desire to show the characteristic and psychological state of the depicted person provides for the great expressiveness of the portrait. Straight lines, circles, semicircles, triangles with sharp corners greatly enrich the composition and help to the ideological reproduction of the artist’s idea and its objective to transmit both the external characteristics and the internal spiritual state. On the canvas is depicted a middle-aged man wearing the hat. This is an impetuous and thoughtful man with contemplative look. The objects proving his occupation are painted around this man. These items transmit his attitude towards life and existence: pencil, paper folder, paper roll, fragment of the easel, etc. The center of the composition is the face that lights up, illuminating everything around it with a radiant light. The coloring of the canvas highlights the intention of the artist, further reinforcing the impression from the contrast of shapes, lines and color spots. This self-portrait represents a series of such paintings. His favorite colors – red, yellow, orange, green, and blue – their contrasting balance expresses the idea of almost all of the works by J. Lepesov.
Among the self-portraits of the artist is “The Self Portrait in a Green Hat”, which also catches the eye by its bright gamma of the contrasting shades. The artist has depicted himself wearing the green hat at work in the open air among the bright yellow, crimson-red leaves of the autumn trees. Along with the external characteristic features the artist reveals his troubled inner world, struggle, emotions, and thirst for improvement with the help of the yellow, red, orange, green, blue and dark blue color patches. According to J. Lepesov, in this painting (as well as in many other of his creations) he develops a tendency of symbolism: green is a symbol of youth (hat), red means life, happiness, victory (clothing of the artist), while the azure-blue is a symbol of eternity and infinity (the sky). All the means of this self-portrait the artist used to convey not only his inner world and his surroundings, but also the universal existence of humanity as a whole, he wanted to prove the originality of creativity and its vast potential, the infinity of ideas and imagination.
In the same vein, the artist created many works, where he showed a wonderful world using his brush and paints. These are, for example, “A Woman with Buckets”, “Baking the Scones”, “Motherhood”, “Happiness”, “The Children’s Game of Dice”, “A Woman with a Shoulder Yoke”, “Musician”, “Jirau”, “Three Lives”, “Cotton Harvesters”, “Women Buying the Flowers”, “Silk Road”, “Cock-Fighting” and many others.
The painting “Three Lives” by J. Lepesov displays the entire life of a person by portraying certain characters. In the centre of composition is a large tree forming the “culmination event”. In the foreground is a little boy who plants a tiny seedling. He does it as if playing, because for young children the whole world and everything that happens in it, is a fascinating game. The child’s eyes are wide open, they show delight, amusement, curiosity and child-like funny concentration. This scene is complemented by a presence of the little toy buckets and shovels next to the young boy. A young man, full of energy, is depicted behind the boy. He is collecting the ripe fruits into the basket from the branches of the tree. On the right side – the tree is already dry; its bare branches are bent down, whereas on the left side it is covered by green leaves and succulent fruits, which are bowed over the young man holding the basket. On the part of the dead tree a hunched old man is depicted, who leans on a stick and gazes into the distance, behind him is a tree – the Tree of Life, the Tree of Destiny. This way the elders can watch from the distance of all those years, thinking of the past, analyzing the mistakes and achievements. The tree of life and destiny is shown in different states – some branches are covered with delicate spring flowers, others full of fruits, while the third ones – without leaves and dry. In accordance with the characteristic features of the depicted people – their age, looks, worldview – the background is painted, which emphasizes the fineness of the feelings of all the characters, complementing their perception. A boy sits on the lush green grass, among the delicate flowers. A young man stands against the bright, turbulent sky, around him is a thick grass and flowers of vivid colors. From the old man’s side the background is filled by the sunset, the sky is crimson, and the sun shines brighter and more alarmingly, illuminating everything by its last bright orange rays. The grass at the feet of an old man already began to wither. Thus, the color palette is subordinated to a compositional design, rather, to the artist’s idea, emphasizing his idea, placing his emotional perception at the forefront: tranquility, anxiety, peace, aspiration. The symbolism of the color as always with J. Lepesov performs the leading role.
The painting “Women Buying the Flowers” stands out among the other works by the artist painted in recent years. This work is interesting for its composition and the artist’s plot. The figures of women are decoratively interwoven with the large and bright color patches and are perceived as a part of the vivid world of bright colors, fabrics, patterns, emotions, beauty, youth, passion and femininity. The contrasting shades of yellow, blue, red, green, light blue and pale emerald colors create the confrontation of emotions. The equilibrium of this composition is held due to a specific distribution of color patches of similar chords. The most noticeable hues are the yellow spots in the upper part of the canvas. The rave of colors of the Oriental fabrics by the artist based on the kurak technology, known as a patchwork weaving in the Karakalpak applied arts.
The artist replied to the question “Where does the artist get so many beautiful moments in life and the positive emotions?” – “All because throughout my life I have talked and worked with children. When you communicate with them for a long time, you automatically start to accept and understand the life, the nature, and the world around us as the children do. And children are always happy, everything seems bright, cheerful and affordable to them. They believe that the good always triumphs over the evil. The harmony of the children’s joyful “flavor” in my works is the reflection of my relationship with children and my personal perception of life. We have to live and enjoy the life!”

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