Outstanding creative personalities, who, each in their own individual style, form a multidimensional space in the national art, enrich the contemporary art of Uzbekistan. Among these artists is Bahodir Yuldashev, who began his creative path as a miniaturist, and then got engaged in easel painting, while maintaining certain techniques characteristic of medieval miniature and creating his unique style. Critics argue about the works by B. Yuldashev, but cannot give them an unambiguous assessment. Some art critics and artists tend to consider his canvases as a kind of translation from the language of Oriental miniatures to easel painting, others see in his works a complex concept, requiring the viewer to contemplate and reflect. Still others believe that the fact of translation of the language of miniature into the easel forms is not acceptable. The artist himself leads a solitary life; he rarely exhibits his creative work, rarely comments on his work, believing that the most important thing for him is the process of creativity, the ability to express the accumulated experience on canvas.
B. Yuldashev is in constant search, he is an experimenter, a tireless worker. The artist’s paintings are difficult to understand at once. They require a careful, thoughtful contemplation and, if I may say so, a co-creation with the audience.
In the late 1970s – 1980s, in Uzbekistan, the art of book miniatures was reviving. Many artists turned to its comprehension as an important component of the national artistic culture of the past. Poetics, decorative system and artistic style of the miniature were seen by the artists and their audience as a vivid expression of the national artistic consciousness. It was during this period, when B. Yuldashev got formed as an artist-miniaturist.
After graduation from the Graphic Department of the Tashkent State Pedagogical Institute named after Nizami (1978 – 1982), he began to work in the Association of Craftsmen “Usto”, where in the late 1970s the experimental research and production workshop of the artistic painting had been organized, headed by the famous Uzbek artist, Chingiz Ahmarov, who was the first in the country to interpret the tradition of miniatures in his work. Working together with such outstanding masters as N. Kholmatov, S. Mukhamedjanov, A. Kambarov, G. Kamalov, M. Satybaldieva and other famous miniaturists, B. Yuldashev was fascinated by both the style of the miniatures and the images of classical Oriental poetry making part of the story outline. He was attracted by the hidden meaning of the Oriental miniature, the subtext and picturesque metaphor, rhythm and color, elegance of drawing and complex design of space, static in motion and innuendo that were close to his worldview. At first, he simply copied the popular compositions of famous artists of the various schools of Oriental miniature. Then he began to look for new techniques and images, in addition to painting miniatures on paper, the artist began to use other surfaces, for example, pumpkins, tambourines, ceramic or porcelain plates, the skin, he also painted lacquer boxes. B. Yuldashev one of the first began to use many of these extremely popular materials that formed the basis for miniature painting. He had pupils and imitators, and now these materials are being actively used by many Uzbek miniaturists.
In the miniatures on the subjects of classical poetry of the East, B. Yuldashev sought unusual artistic-plastic and color approaches to compositions, found new images inspired by the poems of Rumi, Khayyam, Saadi, Hafiz, and Navoi. It was his own way of search for spiritual perfection, its comprehension of the philosophical purpose of art.
As for many contemporaries of Bahodir Yuldashev, creativity is the search for the possibility of adaptation of the individual plastic style to traditional decorative and coloristic principles of the classical heritage of the medieval East, “compressed” in a miniature painting. For expression of the universal values such as life, death and love, B. Yuldashev in his works widely used the medieval art technique of emphasis on esoteric, hidden (Batin) meanings of classical Sufi poetry, applying it in the miniature painting to understand the various allegories and parables. Jugs of wine, a pomegranate, a vine are the favorite symbols of the artist.
The images of the caravan, wandering dervishes, puppeteer, actor, beautiful lady – Peri – Beloved began to appear gradually in the works by B. Yuldashev and then to dominate them. In the artist’s vision these images embodied in a sort of pictorial signs in the search for spiritual comprehension of truth and clandestine qualities of his own soul. Not by chance, we often recognize the features of the artist himself in the artist’s paintings in the form of a Dervish or a Puppeteer.
Over time, the framework governing the canons of the Eastern miniature began to restrict the fantasy and imagination of B. Yuldashev, and in search of new expressive means and creative possibilities, he turns to easel painting. The reason for this decision was a trip to Belgium in 1991 to his first overseas exhibition. Familiarity with the European museums and the classical European painting was crucial for the artist’s further development. He has radically changed his painting technique, shifting from the paper, watercolors and gouaches to the oil painting, pastels, acrylic paint and canvas, experimenting with different surfaces and materials.
Less than within 20 years this artist had created a great number of paintings in which he translated the experience of miniature painting to the surface of the canvas, creating his own specific, recognizable individual style. Despite the fact that he began to work with the larger surfaces, bigger in size than a sheet of paper, and switched to another technology of painting, subconsciously B. Yuldashev transformed into easel painting the individual techniques characteristic of the miniature art. Two-dimensional space of the composition, the subtlety of the writing, the careful rendering of details, graphically drawn ornaments, introduction of the Arabic calligraphy to the picture plane, virtuoso lines, silhouette images, regular repetition of composition with some variations borrowed from the classic miniature of the East, in easel form are becoming fantastically symbolic. The artist likes to paint in pistachio-green or ochre tones, along with which the dark, dusky colors were used in his late works. At the same time, B. Yuldashev uses the original technique, which involves the use of the fine-grained primed canvas for drawing of the intended composition and colors, then he paints over it only one dark color and removes the top layer by cloth, brightens with different intensity the facial traits and details of the still life or architecture. As a result the images of the Puppeteer, Poet, Lover, horse, or camel, pitcher of wine, architectural buildings begin to appear with a new emphasis as if from the darkness of nonexistence a fantastically fascinating, which were found once and became favorite. They seem to emerge out of the abyss, ready to disappear again like the dreams.
In addition to canvas, B. Yuldashev keep finding new materials and experiments with them. Cardboard, silk, velvet and calico in his paintings create the amazing beauty texture: now it is smooth, resembling paper, but as if glowing from the inside (silk), then it is creamy-textured, which color scheme makes you remember the mysterious sparkle of the gemstones, or the deep and soft, and bat the same time, sophisticated shimmering background, when he paints on velvet. In his works devoted to the prophets and Quranic subjects, B. Yuldashev creates a wonderful texture, reminiscent of the crackles on the old European oil paintings, which in this context creates a feeling of eternity.
The painting by B. Yuldashev referring to timeless images of poetry and legends is the art which is profoundly modern, relevant, and reflecting both traditional and individual world-view.