"The Open Hand" of Medat Kagarov
(Dedication to the Artist's 70th Anniversary)
The late 1970's - early 1990's saw the appearance of a whole galaxy of talented Uygur artists, who substantially expanded artistic scope and subject-matter, renewed imagery/plastic structure and the range of employed techniques, and continued different traditions of both international and country-specific artistic experience, including folk tradition, having creatively reworked them. They are such interesting and original artists as Medat Kagarov, Lekim Ibragimov, Talgat Mirrahimov, Ahmet Ahat, Ruslan Yusupov, Kurash Zulpikarov, Ashimjan Kurbanov and many others.
Typically, the works of Uygur artists are not overloaded with shapes and are somewhat restrained in colour choice. The artists tend to produce multiple variations of the same or similar motifs. Some artists intuitively, others consciously discovered these basic principles feeding common roots that go deep into the origins of folk art, be it music, or oral tradition, or arts and crafts.
Artist Medat Kagarov, a person with philosophic mind and poetic perception of life, thinks very metaphorically, vividly and originally, taking note of everything unusual. This has been his attitude to the world around and to his own art…
Kagarov has earned the title of the People's Artist of Uzbekistan, Academician of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan and the Academy of Arts of Kazakhstan; he is the winner of numerous awards and a participant of the most prestigious exhibitions, a recognized authority in Central Asian artistic circles.
Once the artist told an interesting story about his visit to an old Sufi cemetery near Bukhara; to his surprise, over the graves he found tall poles crowned with an open hands symbol. "This means that a person left this world with clean hands", interprets this symbolism Medat. "He did not take anything with him, leaving all to the people. This is the law one should live by."
The art of M. Kagarov is multifaceted and diverse. At the early stage of his career Kagarov works prolifically in drawing and creates unique specimens of graphic art; he illustrates books of famous authors from East and West and creates numerous series of highly metaphorical lithographs, which were subsequently exhibited at the international and personal exhibitions of the artist. Series of his works, such as "Impressions from Khiva", "The Seasons", "Autobiography", "Report from Farish", "When the Almond Blossoms", "My Uzbekistan", "Bilal Nazim", "Vysotsky's War Songs", and many others have become notable phenomena in the artistic live of the country.
For the series of auto-lithographs "My Battle Companions" Kagarov earned the award of the Young Communists League of Uzbekistan. A number of the artist's drawings were purchased by the Ministry of Culture and the Union of Artists of the USSR, which was a major creative achievement of the master. Quite indicative is his series "The Poetry of Abdulla Aripov" created in 1977, when a still young poet had not been so popular yet, although everyone talked about his incredible talent. It produced a strong impression on Medat as well. The series turned out vivid, emotionally restrained and memorable. The artist did not try to picture any kind of subject or anything related to the poet's particular piece; Kagarov expressed his personal experiences in an easy and inspired manner.
Poeticism and allegory in his graphic works are unique. Complemented by his skill and inclination towards symbolism, the actual implementation becomes astounding. The artist is able to use meaningful detail to express the context of the entire composition. For instance, in one of the sheets from the "Vysotsky's War songs" series titled "The Sky of This Day" the artist pictured birds he was so fond of.
Birds are the symbols of the intransient, the soul, of the spirit of perished men, of ascension to heaven (the title is not accidental, after all). Birds are the opportunity to communicate with the spirit of the great poet, the highest manifestation of consciousness and thought The birds are neither on a tree or a rooftop; they are on a bell-tower, which gives the piece some added semantics. Thus, a kind of union between earthly and heavenly is created. This is also a kind of protest against the war, a call for peace, for since ancient mythology birds accompanied heroes. One may add that in Eastern philosophy birds are the embodiment of creation, and in Islam they are the souls of the faithful living on the Tree of Life.
For many years now the artist Medat Kagarov has tended to increasingly engage in painting. In 1991 he brought his personal exhibition to Urumqi, the administrative centre of Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China. Organisers took the famous artist on tour of some ancient cities, including Turfan, in the vicinity of which some caves and many ancient monuments survived. The artist was amazed by the murals he saw there. Kagarov returned from the trip with a completely different outlook and perception of life. Since that time, the so-called "painting" period began in his art, which became not only a new stream in Kagarov's work, but also a new trend in painting, which some art critics referred to as "Vision Art".
Kagarov's canvases created in the so-called visionary style start featuring a peculiar world, luscious and colourful, filled with soft bitter-sweet flavour and soulful oriental melodies. His pictures are profoundly personal and communicate the artist's vision that is often intuitive and can accurately identify his mood and even point of view. This even manifests a kind of an "essay" thinking of the artist, where "the synthesis of the abstract, specific and real is free and fluid".
Along with Kagarov, a number of other Uygur artists follow similar style; namely Lekim Ibragimov, Ahmet Akhat, Gairat Ibragimov, et al. Still, they are all different, and that is wonderful.
Subject paintings inspired by oriental miniature and even Kagarov's vanguard are special and have some very distinct qualities that are characteristic only to his art. Kagarov divides his contemporary art into several groups: Sufi-art, vanguard, the Turfan style, subject painting, oriental miniature motifs and graphic art. Quite remarkable are his paintings "Divine Shanyrak", "The Dervish and The Beauty" (diptych), "Earth and Sky" (diptych), which are the pinnacle of his art. They represent philosophy of a mature master, his insight and even his rethinking of the past experiences, and his appeal to young people aspiring to find the truth.
Master's works such as "The Man and The Bird", "A Girl with a Fan", "A Little Shepherd from Tangaly", "Waiting", "Bid", and "Prayer at Noon" are the illustrative examples of creative employment of olden motifs in contemporary rendition skillfully performed.
Free from ideological restrictions, Kagarov's art represents a new symbiosis of a kind: classical education, realistic restraint, European vanguard, oriental melodiousness, and distinctive ethnic thinking. …And many more different shades and nuances, which are not amenable to verbal description, yielding only to the skillful brush of the Master.
The works by Medat Kagarov are rightfully considered pride of the State Museum of Uzbekistan, the Tretyakov Gallery, and the "Myn Uy" Uygur gallery, as well as of a large number of private collectors. To be in possession of the artist's picture is not just a tribute to stylishness and fashion; this is class, this is sophisticated, highly artful taste.