On the Wings of an Angel
Once, returning to me a big Picasso album, our contemporary artist Nicholai Sergeevich Shin said: "Every true artist develops and explores one or two themes throughout his life".
The main theme in the painting art of Vasiliy Hapov is an intricately twisted ornament of human bodies. Hapov is an orthodox, the priest and fan of nude human body, in love with the body just as Narcissus was in love with himself, a master who found his artistic identity at a young age. His paintings carry his love for art, like an angel from his paintings - messenger from the starry sky. He is a monumental artist by origin and calling, besides he was lucky with the teacher, the famous monumental painter Bahodir Jalalov. .
All in all, the language of fine art is certainly a pantomime, and Hapov has brilliantly mastered this language in his canvases. Take, for instance, the way he pictures human arms - they are like living seaweed flowing down the river of life. The artist's method is primarily about a "sprawl" of shapes intricately arranged against a simplified and shallow background. Sometimes the relief of a figure reaches the degree of high relief - the result of his brilliant knowledge of human anatomy
Of particular interest is a series of works dedicated to Minotaur. Although Picasso, with his inherent fanaticism, had already "drawn" this subject, Hapov can still find in it his own lyrical intonation and original compositional solutions. A closer look reveals that these works are deeply confessional, uncovering carefully coded personal life of the master. Works of this series are filled with subtle reflections on the relationships between sexes and their metamorphoses. One gets the impression that the master has not yet exhausted this theme and will pursue it for many years to come.
Hapov's Oriental cycle is quite interesting too. Bird-Muses who live together with people in complex relationships and accord whisper their secrets to humans bending over them. Sometimes it is a secret love of people and sphinxes, inspired by personal day-dreams and experiences, and perhaps also by the great Franz Stuck.
For Hapov life is a game in which everything cannot be told. This game is hard to unravel, but it is played by people with beautiful looks. They are beautiful in the direct sense of the word; it is the great and fair plastic, and Vasiliy bears it on his shoulders, and this is not just another painting series, but an wholesome world-look and creed that he believes in, despite the imminent avalanche of the recent trends in art, which deny the longevity of a canvas, its texture treatment, and ever-shining beauty of a human body. The body that, no matter what, will keep refining and will always respond to the spiritual and intellectual evolution of man.
Hapov's landscapes are also promising, although they have not resulted from long and focused, Cezanne-like, standing behind the easel in plain air. His landscapes are the fruit of a broad coverage of the surface of the earth. Hapov regards nature more like Lermontov's Demon, and therefore sees it with a somewhat detached eye, yet wholesomely and keenly. In his canvases the planet appears to be going through the pain of creation or a new round of its life cycle. Experiencing another global catastrophe of clashing continental plates, it is deserted, and the terrain is bleak and barren. The format made it impossible for the author to fully realize his skill as a landscape painter, but the echoes of high style, inherent to the author, can already be heard.
Circular landscape "Submersion" (diameter 100 cm) is symptomatic. The story is centred around a red fish swimming to the sea bottom; it is painted so harmoniously with the blue-green background that it appears to be soaring in a kind of a universal environment and united with all the beings on earth. The painting is full of sad pantheism, but is also optimistic in its own way.
Quite interesting is a hunting theme in the artist's work; for him even love always has an element of pursuit.
The story line of running young males is consistently present in Hapov's art. It has very ancient roots: in the dozens of paintings on ancient Greek amphorae young men fly in a steady, swift race. I will never forget the run of Italian boys and girls in the Delphi stadium, when, inspired by ancient runners, they raced around the stadium, while we, the mesmerized tourists from around the world, were watching.
Complex and metaphorical in its semantics and associations is the canvas "In the Labyrinth" (120 x 140 cm). Unfolded and explored by young men, the "Golden Leaf" of the labyrinth, as if obtained by the great Heinrich Schliemann in the realm of Agamemnon. And enlightened silhouettes of lovers look on, like an echo from the past that brings to us through the ages the everlasting love.
It seems appropriate to mention one thing that has preoccupied me, the old teacher, one for a long while: the complexity of leaning to draw a nude body. I would say, the unbelievable complexity… It takes 5-6 years to lean the basics. Today, Uzbekistan has very few artists who have passed this milestone and mastered, as draftsmen, the portrayal of a nude human body. One of them is Vasiliy Hapov who plays with it masterfully, both from life and imagination, demonstrating an absolute freedom. Obsession with body and the analysis of its movements and capabilities have led him to sculpture, where he is just gaining strength and where his success is yet to be seen.
Painting as such does not perform solo in Hapov's canvases: it works for the plastic idea. More often the dominant in the paintings is the contrast between the figure and the background: cold backgrounds and warm bodies, or cold figures against hot backgrounds, even up to reds. However, in "Lovers" with its amazing rhythm, the figures are not contrasted, but subtly harmonized with the background, creating a integral environment of light and air to intensify and deepen the most intimate and eternal theme of love. An oval-shape canvas "Twilight" looks like a poetic sonnet. In a single breath of precious turquoise the canvas is sung as a hymn to female beauty.
Countless experiments with backgrounds in Hapov's drawings are certainly related to his colouristic searching, although they are intended to serve as "lining" for the picture. But the persistence with which hundreds of sheets are covered with multiple layers of multicoloured acrylic paint turns them, regardless of the author's will, into self-sufficient accomplished pieces. There is already an indication for a very natural introduction of plastic forms into this painting environment, which promises to open another exciting aspect of his work. He can begin where Wols finished, or rather terminated his scintillating art of producing painted canvases wholesomely and harmoniously covered with paint. It seems that Hapov needs to change his "settings" and create these unquestionably beautiful backgrounds not as an indefinite interim step towards drawings, but give himself completely to these backgrounds as independent pieces, adding challenge to the task, and to introduce into them those images and ideas that he leaves for later to be used in painting canvases.
Countless life and non-life exercises of the nude body artist make one conscious of invariable convulsive movements, few pauses and relaxed muscles; one can observe a tendency towards decorative, which somewhat detracts from the more profound essence of a human body. Still it may well be that Hapov will rid himself of it by engaging in oil painting and softening it with colour half-tints. а.
Comprehending Hapov's drawing series as part of the overall development of arts in Uzbekistan, and taking into account the diversity of pursuits and discoveries of the country's young artists, one can clearly see a new aesthetic environment and a new cultural layer associated with universal information access and familiarity with the World Wide Web that begin to emerge in our region. This has also to do with the country's spectacular ethnic diversity. Thus, the orbit of young generation's interests encompasses the entire culture of the East, including Japan, China and India.
It would be appropriate to quote an art historian L. Marz who regards the art of Dashi Namdakov as "a contemporary culture phenomenon that is sensitive and impartially responsive to arising keen interest toward Orient, its art and its exciting and alien spirituality unknown to the Western mind" (1).
It would be a mistake to disregard the explorations and finds in this area made by other Uzbekistan artists from the same circle as Vasiliy Hapov. They are D. Ahunbabaev (personal exhibition in Paris, 2008), A. Ivanova, S. Kurtjemil, and E. Kambina whose art represents a very interesting fusion of Eastern and Western art, and whose canvases were displayed in the Uzbek section of the V Tashkent International Biennale of Contemporary Art in 2009. A hall with these artists' works was set up spontaneously by the exhibition organizers in the very last days, but, surprisingly, it demonstrated a rather comprehensive spectrum of the country's artistic development, in spite of a narrower and more trivial concept of the curators
By the age of thirty, the artist has learned the matrix of human body in its male and female implementation, and further development of his art implies absolute freedom in proportions and plastic. He may part with his somewhat staged treatment of the figure on the sheet, and the figure will obey the master still moving naturally, and it will no longer be so convulsive and isolated in its motions. Although already now some of his shapes are truly poetic. In his best canvases and drawings, Hapov, abandoning the ordinary perception of a model, brings in powerful romanticism, and the sentiment of his works reminds us of Theodore Gericault's "Free Horses Run" that is breathing the spirit of youth and freedom - the apogee of the Romantic Movement in France. It appears that Hapov has matured. Our hopes are that he lives according to D. Gibran [Khalil Gibran?]: "We live only to discover beauty. The rest is waiting of sort
1. Марц Л. Даши Намдаков. М., 2005.