“Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, and the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.”
The central tenet of the surrealism movement was the desire to release the unconscious and explore the endless possibilities offered by liberating the mind from its rational and conscious state. Surrealist artists aimed to produce a style of art that was a “more urgent and truer version” of an artistic practice.
In the celebration of Uzbekistan’s 30th Anniversary, Andakulova Gallery, Dubai, is hosting an exhibition titled, Infinite Stories of Great Minds. It is showcasing the works of two eminent artists: Bakhodir Jalal and Javlon Umarbekov from Uzbekistan through a virtual tour from September 1 to November 1. Both the artists are known for their huge impact on the country’s cultural heritage and its promotion around the globe.
Bakhodir Jalal, with a career spanning over 50 years, is considered one of the leading artists in Central Asia. Known for his enormous murals, he paints in the surrealist and cubist style, using bright colors, straight lines, curves, dots, fluid forms and intricate patterns. His works, a vibrant surge of energy, evoke a sense of freedom and mystery.
One finds an emphasis on the creative imagination and the geometrical symbolism in Jalal’s work. He concentrates more on ‘letting go’ of the inner self through spiritual awakening. In some panels, he utilises an essentially native style to render his often mythical, surreal and fantastical worlds. The mural titled Messengers of Eternity is a beautiful depiction of forms rendered in the cubist style.
One finds ferociousness, agony, desperation and bewilderment in the panel. In the harsh chorus, the figures release an utter cry for what they have lost (metaphorically). The loss appears to have shown them the path for a journey of the newly-awakened spirit.
A mood of anxiety prevails as the figures strive towards the abstract and non-material that might be absolutely profound and beautiful. One finds elements of both figurative and abstract art in the work.
The mural Radiant Venice reveals colours and forms depicting life and vibrancy of the city. Seen from a distance they resemble tiny, blurred images or bizarre landscapes seen from the top above clouds resembling a photograph taken from the window seat of an airliner. Colours like blue, green, peach and ochre are prominent.
Bakhodir Jalal, with a career spanning over 50 years, is considered one of the leading artists in Central Asia. Known for his enormous murals, he paints in the surrealist and cubist style, using bright colours, straight lines, curves, dots, fluid forms and intricate patterns.
His series, Fashionistas, can be interpreted as incarnation of surrealism. It offers bright colours, motifs and playful forms with female images in some panels. In answer to an email question, the artist stated that the image of circle, used in several of his panels, was an inspiration of big wooden dolls that women carry as a ritual in Ghana, when they want to conceive. He says he is inspired by the work of Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and Raphael.
Umer Bekovis, known for boldly crossing the traditional boundaries of art to create his original interpretation of the Uzbek heritage – farmers at fields, potters, women collecting water from a pond, shaded oasis etc – has exhibited his art around the world. He won the title of People’s Artist of Uzbekistan in 1989 and later served as an honorary professor at the National Ukranian Academy of Arts (2011). One finds a shift in his style towards surrealist or abstract display of intimacy, a deeply humane spectrum of moods and feelings and a luminous colour palette. The work titled Guitar, 2007, prompts the viewer to indulge in an investigation and find the hidden message, the image repertoire of signs and images that remained active in the artist’s sub-conscience.
Born out of his imagination, the instrument as subject matter and his choice of the colour palette speak of the influence from Picasso’s guitar series. It seems to touch every string of the artist’s soul, liberating him to find the non-material. The abstract cum surrealist depiction prompts the viewer to use his analytical skills to dig out the images, e.g. the straight lines at the front and back refer to the guitar strings and the sound hole.
The work titled: Venice reveals a luminous colour palette. The long pillars in shades of vivid blue, yellow, cyan and stark white, and the daring daubs reveal the vibrancy of the city and its everyday life.
The piece, Mother and Child, 2015, has been painted in a surrealist manner. It seems to explore his personal fantasies – conscious as well as unconscious. It also reveals a longing for his childhood memories.
The exhibition has been arranged in collaboration with the Consulate General of Uzbekistan in Dubai to highlight the unique ability of the artists and the skill and perception that it demands.
The writer is an artist and educationist based in Lahore