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Аbylkhan Kasteev (1904-1973)

Аbylkhan Kasteev  (1904-1973)
The People’s Artist of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
The Laureate of the Ch. Valikhanov State Premium of the Kazakh SSR
         One of the first of kazakh artists, Abylkhan Kasteev, by his talent and creative selflessness embodies the bright phenomenon in the history of fine art of Kazakhstan. His name stands among such outstanding figures of national history and culture as Ch. Valikhanov, S. Mukanov, Sh. Aimanov, A. Margulan, K. Satpayev and other persons, whose lives and talents were given to devoted service to their nation. 
         Abylkhan Kasteev was born on January 1, 1904 in the village of Chizhin,  Dzharkent region of Taldy-Kurgan oblast into the  family of a poor shepherd. He  lost his father early and had to earn money working for a land owner, bai. Then he worked as a laborer in the town of Dzharkent and as a digger during the construction of the Тurksib railway. Once there he constantly drew portraits and landscapes which surprised everyone with his talent and mastership. In 1929, destiny brought him to Alma-Ata, where within two years he was studying  at the art studio of N. Khludov.
         In 1930, Abylkhan Kasteev made his first trip to Moscow. In 1934, he participated in an amateur painting contest in Alma-Ata and in the Republican contest for the creation of the Abai portrait and illustrations of his works. For the first time, he participated in the exhibition of Kazakhstan artists at the State Museum of Arts of the Peoples of the East in Moscow. From then on, Abylkhan Kasteev is a regular participant of the all-union, republican and city exhibitions.
        Through the 1934-1936 period Abylkhan Kasteev lived in Moscow and attended the N. Krupskaya art studio of folk creative art. In 1937, he joined the Union of Artists of the USSR. In the 1930s and 1940s, he worked over the “Old and New Life” series of watercolors, which reflected the artist’s thoughts  about the "leaving" past. In 1942, the artist’s first personal exhibition was held in Alma-Ata dedicated to the 15th anniversary of his creative art. The same year, A. Kasteev was awarded the title of the Honored Artist of the Kazakh SSR. In 1944, he received the title of the People’s Artist of the Kazakh SSR.
     The creative art of Kasteev is very diverse. He painted a number of portraits depicting the great sons of the Kazakh nation: Chokan Valikhanov, Аbai Kunanbayev, Zhambul Dzhabayev, Аmangeldy Imanov and others. Of importance and full of meaning is his series of landscapes in watercolors and paintings executed in different periods, which by right are named the artistic chronicle of the Republic: "On the Land of Kazakhstan," "About the Virgin Lands," "The Land and People of the Republic," "The Constructions of the Five-Year Plan" and "The Riches of Kazakhstan."
      In 1967, Abylkhan Kasteev was awarded the Ch. Valikhanov State Premium of the Kazakh SSR for a series of watercolors "On the Land of Kazakhstan." The works by Аbylkhan Kasteev participated in many exhibitions of Kazakhstan art held abroad.
      The artist died on November 2, 1973, in Alma-Ata.
      The art school in Shimkent, the high school in the Panfilov region of the Taldy-Kurgan oblast, the street in Аlmaty … were all named after Abylkhan Kasteev.  In 1976, a memorial hall devoted to his creative art was opened at the new State Museum of Arts of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In 1984, the State Museum of Arts got the name of Abylkhan Kasteev. There are works by him in many of the largest museums in Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, as well as in private collections in countries near and far.
            The art of Abylkhan Kasteev imbued with great sincerity, original talent, warm-heartedness and a wise attitude to life will always be an example to many generations of Kazakhstan artists.              

By the decision of UNESCO, the A. Kasteev 100th anniversary was included into the 2004 UNESCO International Calendar of Important Anniversaries.