Simphony in Clay

A well-known ceramic artist Liudmila Kozlova graduated from the Department of Ceramics of the Republican Art School named after P. P. Benkov (now the Republican College of Arts), where she had wonderful teachers: Michail Mikhailovich Mashurov, Vartan Arshakovich Oganesyan and others. In 1975 she became member of the Artists Union of Uzbekistan.

Kozlova's first independently wrought items such as traditional crockery sets including shokosa [soup bowl], lyagan [platter] and piala [tea cup] already drew the attention of experts. Few years later, one of such sets was acquired by the Art Museum in Tashkent. The ceramic artist received good schooling by travelling to other cities of the country. Her friends and primarily members of the Creative Association of the Academy of Arts provided good support to her. In 1997 Kozlova became member of "Khunarmand" Association.

Mastering the technology of ceramics and the laws of minor plastic art forms, Kozlova was captivated by the warmth of small-form sculpture, its proportional adequacy to a human form, and intimate and confiding intonation it contains. The woman artist mainly works in the area of decorative ceramic panels and ceramic small-form sculpture. She is the master of individual manner of performance. She skilfully employs plastic and decorative properties of clay and the possibilities of extra-utilitarian form variants. Her creative work is based on a special way of sculptural thinking and vision of the form that stems from the interpretation of a three-dimensional presentation of an object in space. Putting the material under her command and making it a component in form-generating, the artist gets and opportunity to turn to a wide range of themes and subjects and create metaphorical interpretation of various phenomena in clay. The very process of creating such a piece is akin to the work of a sculptor. Kozlova admits that "one has to be an artist in decorative art in order to make a sculpture in clay". Her items stand out in the plasticity of sculptural volumes, enriched with colour and textural treatment of surface.

One of the outward features of some of Kozlova's works is their relatively large size. "These are not cosy home items", says Liudmila Alexandrovna, "These are works that carry certain emotional and spiritual charge, the artist's thoughts, emotions and impressions". The most important thing about her art work is the creation of a metaphorical image, the emotional colouring of which depends on specific life impressions that are eventually determined by the subtlety of the author's artistic nature. She models her items softly and in a slightly generalized manner. She paints her compositions herself, while preserving a degree of conventionality that makes painting a decorative element rather than a naturalistic colouring.

Kozlova's specific approach to clay enabled the creation of items, metaphorical structure of which is revealed through a complex chain of liberal variations of experiences and associations. Her works are distinguished by simplicity and clarity of artistic language and a wide range of themes and images. She masterfully creates compositions that consist of shapes based either on a human figure, or on an object, that is, all that which creates a metaphorical interpretation of the piece in line with the author's concoction. Her sculptural compositions are filled with lyricism, hidden meaning and in insight into the mystery of existence. Among her favourite are female symbolically allegorical images and conventional stylized presentations. The joy of inspired creation fills the compositions of her wall triptych called "Music. Harmony. Sonnet." that represents lyrical melodies. One cannot see any musical instrument here, but the figure of each woman (there are three of them) embodies the sounds of playing piano, violin or other musical instrument.

Also interesting in terms of concept is a series of the master's works under a conventional title of "Harmony" that is marked with lyricism and poetic mood. It consists of four large, up to 70 centimetres tall, decorative sculptures of poetic female figures. The piece is characterized by powerful modelling, compositional boldness and decorativeness achieved through colour. Reddish-brownish sculpture is only slightly touched with painting in occasional spots. Uncon-straint and natural poses that create the mood of the characters are communicated by means of sculpture itself.

Very poetic is a decorative sculpture "Hope and Expectation" performed in translucent greenish colour range consonant with poetic images of two maiden figures. A sculpture titled "A Girl From The Legend" is performed in deep-and light-bluish shades of cobalt colour range: a lightened, very conventionally wrought face and rough material surface (chamotte).

Thematic diversity of Kozlova's works evidences that she takes interest in complex philosophic contemplations and poetic innuendo. The entire breadth of perceiving the world is "moulded" into a peculiar clay symphony, where the plasticity of material and its colour overtones bear the main emotional and content charge.

Nature has a particular appeal to the artist. She often portrays pomegranate - the symbol of fertility and bounty used in ancient decorative art. "Pomegranate Orchard" glorifies animated nature and the power of earth, which the artist presents in the shape of the head of a mythical dryad that embodies the plant. The female face has oriental features. The composition also includes stylized little trees and pomegranate fruits - in whole and in halves.

A girl's head against the background of grasses also features in a decorative sculpture called "The Voice of Grasses" that consists of five objects. Another composition titled "The Scents of Summer" contains an image of a girl who sits amidst flowers with a butterfly on her shoulder. A sculpture called "Sprint-time Stroll" is poetic. Kozlova found a vanguard solution for her composition "Autumn", and a decorative sculpture "Autumn Dreams" is inspired by a verse that reads: "Somewhere in a forgotten garden Autumn is scattered in snow". It consists of two strata and a mini still-life.

Kozlova is also attracted by cosmic themes. One of her works - a vase with a withered twig and a lone maple leaf and five images of a full moon - she called "Full Moon". The main character in a romantic decorative sculptural composition called "Astrologer" is a wizard with long white beard wearing a turban and long cloak studded with stars; one of them he is holding in his hand as a materialization of a dream of which constellations tell him...

Apart from small-form sculpture, Kozlova used to work with large high relief and sculptures. These include a sculptural composition that was once installed on the territory of a tea-house located on the premises of one of Tsvetmet facilities; unfortunately, it has not survived, but it gives and idea (even through a photograph) about the range and creative capabilities of the woman artist. It is a branchy tree performed in pure turquoise colours. One can clearly see inflorescences and large fleshy leaves. Twigs end with bird heads, which is associated with the picturing of a Zoroastri-an symbol of fire altar.

Of materials, Kozlova prefers to work with natural red clay and clay mixed with chamotte, using a barely noticeable majolica toning, coloured cobalt salts and greenish copper oxide. She also works with engobe, glazes and enamels. She also employs the so-called "pinks" - dyes that old-time masters made of plants by grinding them into powder.

Kozlova's poetically anxious mood is not accidental. She likes reading and composes verses filled with romanticism, lyricism, insight into philosophical essence of existence, and love for the world around. Kozlova is a master who interestingly and peculiarly develops her method of sculptural thinking in clay and who develops and enriches her creative work by ceaseless searching.

Larissa Levteyeva


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