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The Visual Arts of Kazakhstan


The considerable part of the collection (over 10 000 items) includes the artworks of painters, graphic artists and sculptors of Kazakhstan. The easel art had appeared in Kazakhstan in the early 20th century. Its inception is connected with the name Nikolai Khludov – a Russian artist who had arrived in Kazakhstan in 1878 as a member of the ethnographic expedition. He left a number of drawings and paintings depicting everyday life of Kazakh people. Nilolai Khludov run the first art studio in Kazakhstan. This studio was attended by the first Kazakh professional artist Abilkhan Kasteev who entirely devoted his life to painting. His look at life, nature, faces of people is a perspective that goes from within of the traditional entity. Approaching the content of the people’s life Kasteev creates the epic image of quiet and serene being, where nature and man coexist in a concord and unification.  The painting ‘The Kolkhoz Milk Farm’ (1936) is one of the first works created in oil. However the subject is very simple the family of a herdsman makes cheese the work is full with symbols. Here the past and present meet in the space of one land which is held dear by the artist in every correlations occurring around him.       
At the same time began a career of a group of young artists such as Khodja Khodjikov and Aubakir Ismailov, Beisenbai Sarsenbeyev and Abdugany Tashbayev. Each of them sought to record the world objectively and depict a new type of the Soviet man. In the 1920-30-ties and in the period of the War and after it a lot of artists arrived in Kazakhstan from the other republics. Among them such artists as Mikhail Gaidukevich and Elena Karasulova, Tatyana Glebova and Pavel Zaltsman, Issak Itkind and Sergei Kalmikov, Valeri Kapterev and Maria Lizogub, Vladimir Sterligov and Regina Velikanova, Abram Cherkasski and Baky Urmanche, Elizaveta Govorova, Vladimir Eifert etc. Each of them brought a special world of their souls and unique manner of creative work. Their artworks surely enriched the art and culture of Kazakhstan.
After the war a group of Kazakh students received a professional education in Moscow and Leningrad. Among them such painters as Sabur Mambeev, Kanaphia Telzhanov and Nagimbek Nurmukhamedov, Moldakhmet Kenbayev and Kamil Shayakhmetov, the cinema artists Aisha Galimbayeva and Sakhi Romanov, the theatre artist Gulfairuz Ismailova and graphic artist Chingiz Kenzhebayev. The young and talented artists in their works render the warmth and deepness of their emotions emanated by a meeting with the living representatives of nomadic culture. Their artworks reveal a lyrical, romantic and epic image of the traditional lifestyle. They tried to explore the personality of a concrete man. At that period had been created a number of interesting portraits where the color scheme helps to create a wide range of characters and transience of emotional states.   
Along with them in Kazakhstan worked such distinguished painters as Aleksei Stepanov and Petr Popov, Ari Shkoni and Michel Kim, Valentin Tkachenko and Ivan Bondarenko, Leonid Leontyev and Olga Kuzhelenko. In their canvases they left their own bright picture of the world. Grephic artists such as Valentin Antoschenko-Olenev and Nikolai Gaev, Andrei Dyachkin and Aleksandr Drozdov, Boris Pak and Albert Guryev in their works create unforgettable images of Kazakh traditional games.
In the early 1950-ties appeared the first Kazakh sculptor – Khakimzhan Naurzbayev who had education in the Harkov Art Institute. He created many beautiful portraits and monuments to the distinguished figures of Kazakh culture. He was adhered to classical canons in his artworks. Nikolai Zhuravlev and Aleksandr Isayev also graduated from the Harkov Art Institute. After graduation from the Leningrad Art-Industrial College to Almaty arrived Petr Usachev. Bek Tulekov finished the Almaty Art College. Soon they became the leading sculptors of Kazakhstan.     
In the middle of the 1960-ties after graduation from the Moscow and Leningrad Academies had returned to Almaty such known sculptors as Tulegen Dosmagambetov, Olga Prokopieva and Vagif Rakhmanov.  In 1973 from Moscow and Tashkent came Erkin Mergenov and Mikhail Rapoport. Each of them had their own preferences in the choice of the model and aesthetics of forms. At the republican exhibitions sculptors presented extremely diverse and interesting works. Sculptors explored the theme ‘a man, the environment, a society’. Different interpretations were often quite opposite: some asserted the priority of an individuality (Dosmagambetov), the others – of the society and social environment (Mergenov). There appeared such interesting sculptors as Anatoli Andrushenko and Aleksandr Tatarinov. Then the list was extended by Esken Sergebayev, Marat Ainekov and Bahitzhan Abishev. Each of them had their principles but all of then sought to reach a special artistic expressiveness. Askar Esenbayev the Moscow V. Surikov’s Art Institute graduate at once attracted attention by his insight portrait works.    
At the second part of the 1960-ties to the art scene came a young generation of artists which were aspired to establish a national art school. They were adhered to clear constructiveness of compositional scheme, laconism of a drawing. The Kazakh idea was of the primal importance in their creative concept. Heroic soundness of ornaments was adequate to the proud assertion of artists in the life and art.  The painting ‘The Young Kazakhs’ by S. Aitbayev is a declaration of love to his people to its clarity of soul and spirit. Aitbayev’s predecessor Ali Djusupov and his friends Tokbolat Togusbayev, Oralbek Nurjumayev and Shaimardan Sariev also sought the clear way of expression. The optimism of their evaluations of national world is correlated in the works with contemplative characters of heroes. Decorativeness of color scheme, static poses and faces. The distinct intonation is revealed in the works of Kamil Mullashev and Bahtiyar Tabiev.   
In those years the art of watercolor was developing extensively. Pavel Zaltsman and Petr Kriushin created poetic images of a man along with Marlen Temirgaliev and Sergei Kozlov, Valentin Dmitriev, Vasili Polyakov and Mels Erzhanov which produced a number of poetic landscapes. Uke Azhiev deeply penetrated into the essence of man’s and nature’s images. Ivan Kvachko successfully worked both in watercolor and gouache. In 1970-80-ties such graphic artists as Makum Kisametdinov and Isatai Isabayev, Aman Bahtigaliev and Arsen Beisembinov, Kairbai Zakirov and Timur Ordabekov, Kadirbek Kametov, Alimhan Smagulov and Baltabai Tabildiev in their compositions and book illustrations actualized the images of the folk real, mythical and epic heroes.    
Abdrashit Sidikhanov started with Salihitdin Aitbayev and worked in the similar painterly stylistics before the December events of 1986 when which marked the collapse of the Soviet ideology for many Kazakh people. The new works the artist produced in that period assumed the title ‘the sign painting’. Tamga (the sign of a Kazakh tribe) artist unified with his personal phenomenal ideograms of Kazakh mythology and history. The alterations occurred in the visual system of Kenzhebai Duisenbayev, Bahtiyara Tabiev and Erbolat Tulepbayev. Gany Bayanov abandoned his shining with happiness watercolor and took to painting the dusky canvases. Dulat Aliev approached the religious subjects. Excellent works were created in these years such devotees of naturalism as Elena Beisembinova, Zeinetkul Tusipova, Aisha Galimbayeva.
The painters Rustam Halfin and Aleksandr Rorokin, Bahit Bapishev and Galim Madanov, Kadirzhan Hairullin, Askar Esdauletov and Andrei Noda initially started working in the manner that was far from the socialist realism. Their art developed, on the one hand, within the frameworks of the Independent Kazakhstan, on the other hand, in the international context because each of them many times exhibited their works in the different countries of the world.  They are interested in the abstract model of the world, sometimes its interpretation with the help of the conventional objectivity. Sculptor Askar Esenbayev having passed through the interest in symbolic compositions sought to rival the ancient and the Renaissance masters in plastic treatment of the human’s body.