The Problem of Creative Resource in the Art Education of Uzbekistan

Issue #2 • 1326

Suhrob Kurbanov,
Art Critic

An opportunity to integrate into the global art process and explore the latest trends and vectors in the international creative practice has arrived as Uzbekistan gained independence. The new development has posed new challenges before the country’s art education, too, as it turned out to be the successor of the academic system that evolved over decades and was founded primarily in the method of realism.
The present analysis aims to look at the diploma works of the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree program graduates of the Fine Arts Faculty of the Behzad National Institute of Arts and Design. We have reviewed the works of the 2012-2013 academic year graduates who studied with Bahodir Jalalov, A. Ikramjanov, S. Rakhmetov and other mentors, as well as easel and monumental pieces created by undergraduate and graduate students.

The Fine Arts Faculty of the Behzad Institute has a rich history. It had and has employed painters and graphic artists who graduated from the I. Y. Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, the Moscow State Academic Art Institute named after V. I. Surikov, the Behzad National Institute of Arts and Design, etc.; among them academicians of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan. The dominant system in the training curricula in all departments of the Fine Arts Faculty has been the academic method, that is, teaching classical drawing and painting based on observation and study of nature with brush and pencil in hand. Upon completion of the Bachelor’s Easel Painting Program, the Faculty graduate is supposed to acquire professional skills such as knowledge of painting material and techniques. However, not all students are capable of free artistic thinking, which becomes evident from the art practice, in which the Faculty graduates do not engage actively enough.
Among pieces wrought by undergraduate students to a good standard, where one can find compositional thinking and good painting technique, that is, the qualities that inform the notion of creativity, we have singled out the works of Nikolai Shokhin, Bakhtiyar Serekeev, and Sardor Kurganov.
The graduation work by Nikolai Shokhin “Awareness” shows a human head as a mask in which runs an action associated with human consciousness. The work has been performed for a monumental project. Stylistic solution of the composition may be seen as influenced by Western artists (Salvador Dali, Hieronymus Bosch) and by Shokhin’s supervisor Academician B. Jalalov. Strictly centred composition shows five figures spiraling upward counter-clockwise in a stylized shape of a head. The author demonstrates excellent compositional thinking and ability to portray facial features and poses.
The graduation work by Bakhtiyar Serekeev consists of three painting compositions. Two of them are titled “The Aral, My Pain”. The landscape is almost surreal. Serekeev has done a serious job that exposes his flair for generalization, a sense of colour, and ability to think conceptually.
The graduation work by Sardor Kurganov is titled “1000 and 1 Pumpkin”. Once can see an attempt to explore the outdoor painting traditions. The composition is structured from a diagonal ribbon of interchanging pictorial masses of pumpkin and melon harvest painted in light half-tones. In the lightweight and airy painting of the composition the modelling role of colour and light dominates: the drawing is almost completely drowned in colour, which creates the atmosphere of blinding sunlight.
The urban landscape genre is presented in the work by Elyor Muratov, “The Cradle of Intelligentsia”. A composition with a city street on an ordinary day shows part of the motorway ring and a wide panorama of the architectural façade of the Tashkent State Pedagogical University named after Nizami. The graduate’s painting technique resembles that of social realism.
Among the Master’s Program graduates one should mention Mirsaeed Mirvohidov and Bekzod Ashurov. They studied with B. Jalalov and A. Ikramjanov. The postgraduate students have been able to express the key idea of their works employing both compositional and pictorial means.
Bekzod Ashurov presented as his diploma work the landscape called “Winter in Khumsan”. The easel composition is performed in grey and deep-brown colour range with the use of dark and light shades. In the stylistic solution of the composition one can find an allusion to western landscape artists, specifically, to Pieter Brueghel. The author has structured his composition well and successfully communicated the characteristic features of a panoramic landscape and posture. Building his storyline, Ashurov demonstrates good painting technique and a sense of proportion in colouration and narrative solution.
The list of the most promising creative works is not so long as one might wish it to be; not all the pieces are flawless, as they were generally performed within the limits of established academic rules and requirements.
The analysis of the subject-matter and style points to several innovative elements. Does not the traditional academic methodology obstruct the development of creativity – an assumption based on the summary review of the diploma works? Reflecting on the training process at the Fine Arts Faculty one can identify different forms and means of developing the academic method.
Currently, the system of art education in Uzbekistan virtually has no new techniques to develop creative thinking or “creativity” as they say, which tells on the graduation works of the students – paintings and drawings alike. Graduation work validates the final certification of the graduate in his professional expertise, where he should be able to demonstrate not only his knowledge of painting techniques, but also an independent creative approach to character and image solutions, and original thinking. Today, the notion of “artist” implies not so much a person skilled in portraying the world in colours, lines and plastic shapes, but a personality who re-conceptualizes and translates his spiritual experience to the present and future generations.
The analysis has shown that in the system of art education a certain cliché has developed, both in subject-matter and style, and in the process of executing diploma works per se. Unfortunately, graduates often imitate the approaches of their reputable mentors, as can be noted in the courses offered by Jalalov and Rakhmetov. To remedy the situation, a whole range of issues needs to be addressed, among them – making a clear distinction between the curriculum and training standard in the undergraduate and graduate programs. Today one can see certain differences in the quality of works by Bachelors and Masters; however, generally, the creative element at either level still remains insufficiently developed, as seen in the submitted diploma works.
Starting from year 2013, the Fine Arts Faculty graduates write a thesis, which is considered a good practice in the current postgraduate education system. The first experience, naturally, cannot be perfect, yet the practice is essential as the artist’s thesis is an important element of intellectual and thus creative development of young artists who learn not only to articulate their thoughts and ideas, but also to express their mind’s eye image in the context of the leading trends in contemporary art.
It is through the process of learning that the style of the artists evolves. Today one can see that the realist school tends to dominates in the curricula of art schools. Undergraduate and graduate students learn the techniques in different domains of fine arts and design, study the style and devices of academic art forms – painting, drawing, sculpture… Regrettably, the history of contemporary Actual Art is missing from the undergraduate program. Master’s program is practically no different from the BA curriculum of the previous four years. The master degree program should probably be revised in view of making it liberal and creative. Students should have a wide choice of creative pursuits: from avant-garde art forms, including installation, video art and photography, to the strict principles of classical art, however taught at more advanced and in-depth level than in the baccalaureate.
Over the last decade the country has seen a growing interest in art forms such as video art, conceptual art and installation, which appeared in Europe already in the 1970s. In view of the innovations in the world’s art, at the early stage it would be appropriate to offer optional media-laboratories in the curriculum of the Behzad National Institute of Arts and Design to train students in contemporary forms of Actual Art. The Institute has already made some progress here, while the art education system still needs to be adjusted to respond to the trends of modern day with its new technologies and innovations. New experience in the world’s art education should be explored, while keeping and cherishing the national traditions of the land and the nation’s identity in art.
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Key words:
Education, art education, creativity, graduation paper, studio, ustoz – shoghird system, undergraduate programme, graduate programme, the Academy of Arts, the Behzad National Institute of Arts and Design

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