National traditions and modern artist
The exhibition of Karakalpak artists was held in July, 2005 in CEH. Bazarbai Serekeev was among these artists. Now his name is well known not only in Karakalpakstan. His pictures are in the collection of Direction of Art Exhibitions in Tashkent and in many private collections of Europe, Asia and Africa.
Today traditions and original culture have drawn so much attention as never before. Art concentrates national features and the people can realize their individualities as art prevents cloning and declares national originality.
Devotion of Karakalpak artists to folk art, which is richly represented at State Museum of Arts by I. V. Savitsky in Nukus, greatly influenced their creativity.
It is especially typical of Bazarboi Serekeev. In folk tradition he discovered more serious thing than just a form – this is the essence of tradition. He creates true national works combining traditions with modernity.
The artist always aspired to develop own style and approach to any theme. In the 1960s B. Serekeev created “In the garden”, “Embroiderers”, “Still-life with pumpkin” and “Pakhta-bairami”. The artist’s circle of themes and idiom settled at once, without long searches and thinking.
B. Serekeev’s works began to be exhibited early. Art critics noted “aspiration to reflect originality of the native land”. In the first half of the 1970s he created such pictures as “Little dutar musician” (1971), “Felt makers” (1973) and others. The artist showed deep feeling of color and rhythm coming from Karakalpak applied arts. The same red-brown color with fragments of blue, green and yellow was used in carpet products - akbaskurah, karshinah, esikkasah and in embroidery - kyzyl kiymeshek, kyzyl jegde, etc. I. V. Savitsky wrote that “traditional ideal of beauty expressed by color, ornament and composition are surprisingly accordant to modernity” (1, p. 8).
In the second half of the 1970s B. Serekeev created “Tractor operators”, “Grandson” and “Lunch” which color based on combinations of brown, red and olive.
Portrait painting occupies an important place in Serekeev’s work. The artist perfectly feels characteristic features of a person and his national type. He created many psychological portraits distinguished by various solutions and synthesized two genres - portrait and life scenes. These are “Portrait of Kauender Berdimuratov”, “Portrait of Daribai Tureniyazov”, “Portrait of Gulistan”, “Portrait of sister Tursun”, “Family of the artist “, “Portrait of Ernazar Alakoz”, etc.
The artist pays much attention to thematic painting. The primer task is interpretation of national applied art traditions and creation of new graphic language and new circle of subjects. Serekeev’s pictures reflect connection with native land, foundations of national life, succession of generations and modern world vision. The artist glorifies original beauty of his native land and tells about people living there. Landscape and life scenes often blend in, enriching each other. Thematic pictures are directly connected not only with national decorative art, but also with Karakalpak epos and folklore. They develop eternal theme of true love for a person, life and world.
Rural life became a subject of “Evening on the rice field “ (1978), “Shepherd with the son” (1982) and “Galloping horses” (1992). Rural culture and folk art became a spiritual source for the people and its integrity. “Folk ideal always opposed good to evil, beauty and order to chaos, creative and transforming forces to decay and death, the eternal to transitory. That’s just what gives vital and ethic force to art” (2, p. 47).
When we speak about B. Serekeev’s creativity, L. Tolstoy’s words are coming back: “I think, that each people uses different methods to express “general ideal”. That is why we feel enjoyment, again and again finding the ideal in new forms” (3, p. 569). “General ideal” makes a core of integral national art and its engine. Each time the ideal is expressed from a point of today’s problems and artistic tasks” (2, p. 43).
A person using the nature and its products feels his belonging to it. The artist especially feels his belonging to native cultural tradition and keeps generality. Turning to folk art, the artist is learning the world and himself.
Eternal theme of harmony of person and nature occupies a key position in Serekeev’s pictures of rural subjects. The artist works much. Reality survives transformation in the artist’s mind. It resulted in lyrical sounding of everyday job: “Shepherd’s song” (1975) and “Song of the shepherd” (1972). The rural life hides much poetry accessible to the true master and enriching his art.
B. Serekeev turns to folk archetypes and nature creating new fantastic plots: “Girl-butterfly” and “Flowers and children” (2003). The artist knows well Karakalpak folk traditions what is proved by “Felt maker” (1976), “First steps” (1979), “Navruz” (1983), “Wedding in aul” (1986) and “Seat the son onto the horse “ (1990). The interplay of two art traditions - professional and folk is typical of the artist. Adherence to cultural heritage generates spiritual affinity of phenomena and products separated by time. The artist succeeded to show originality of his native Karakalpakstan in the pictures if any artist does.
While the early works were realistic, in the course of time they became more expressive and decorative. The new plastic concept caused change of the imagery. This evolution of graphic language is clearly seen when compare thematically close works done in different times.
In 1990 – 1991 B.Serekeev visited House of Art in Seneje. That much influenced his further working and directly connected the artist with folk art traditions. Different pictures of that period differ in style and manner. “Weaving of jez-shyi” (1991), “Girls and patterns” (1993) and “Life of the steppe” have bright color spots, complex lines, play of colors and unexpected compositional solutions.
Abstract canvases appear very energetic. Emphatic brushstrokes give romantic expression. Their location seems a little chaotic, but actually they hide wise calculation of the artist. In general rhythmic structure of his canvases surprisingly corresponds to emotional charge of motif or subject. A motif could be full of dramatics or light, pure and joyful. The artist’s brushworks are decorative.
The abstract pictures brightly show B. Serekeev’s national originality. They are directly connected with folk art and craft traditions in color, rhythm and form of expression.
B. Serekeev’s landscape painting is also original. His landscapes bear features of folk world perception with its admiration for beauty of the nature and world around (“Chilpyk”, “Evening”). Their rhythms tune for meditation and thinking about eternity (“Steppe music” (1987). Especially poetic are his landscapes “Singing djingils” and “Good day”.
The artist works rarely in genre of still-life where also turns to folk culture. The still-life “Saddle of grandfathers” is metaphoric and associative that allows the master to reveal the interest to history and national culture. In 1993 the artist, first in Karakalpakstan, added to his experience painting on dried pumpkins. He revives once very popular and widespread practice. He cultivates different sorts of pumpkins and paints them in own technology. His skills are permanently improving. B. Serekeev uses unusual forms of pumpkins and paints various plots on their surfaces: “Music”, “Fish of the Aral”, “Jrau”, “Shartuime” and others. Stylistically these paintings come to traditions of oriental miniature, particularly to the school gravitating to folk traditions.
Karakalpak artist B. Serekeev can use different expressive means but never fail the main thing – his personal perception and interpretation of national art traditions. His art allies with folk art in careful relation to the world and its major components: Life and Death, Good and Evil. That forms national picture of the world, national mentality and feelings. All that allows to understand creativity of this artist better.