(To mark the 50th anniversary of Galiya Abdurakhmanova and Mikhail Antonov)
Creative work of a family couple Galiya Abdurakhmanova and Mikhail Antonov is connected with the fine art of Karakalpakstan and its painting. They authored many well-known canvases. The works by these masters are included in the collection of not only the State Art Museum of Karakalpakstan named after I. V. Savitskiy, but also of many private collections in Uzbekistan, Russia and countries outside the CIS. They participated in many prestigious exhibitions that took place in Moscow, Riga, St.-Petersburg, and, particularly, in the international exhibition called "Art-Myth" in the Moscow Manezh. Paintings by these authors are the asset of private collectors in the US, France, Germany, Denmark and other countries.
Themes in Abdurakhmanova and Antonov's paintings are permeated with philosophic ideas and enigma; they possess the degree of uncertainty that makes the viewer look for associations, feel emphatic and think; there is always a pull towards contemplation. Such are the canvases by Abdurakhmanova "The Prophesy", "The Two Sides", "In the Foreign Land" and "The Dialogue"; and Antonov's "The Passage of Time" and "Mystery".
"At the Jeweller's Shop" is one of the first works of Galiya Abdurakhmanova that was presented in 1980 at the republican exhibition "The Young Artists Present". The knowledge and understanding of national traditions and cultural values were reflected in artistic and technical aspect of this work and manifested themselves in the austerity of compositional solution, in restrained and harmonious colouring, in the plasticity of shapes and in finely developed pictorial texture. The traditions of miniature painting are relevant for many of her Karakalpak themes: "The Bride", "The Karakalpak Bride", "The Embroideress", "Karakalpak Woman in Saukele", etc.
Later works of the woman-artist are performed in a Transnature style. The author is always on the boundary between reality and fantasy, elation and grief, light and shadow; in many works there is a veil of secret and mystery. There is an ongoing process of cognition of a fragile and ever changing, a kind of egocentric model of existence that is enchanting in its mystery. Hence the bias in her works toward the modern style and certain mystification ("The Three Travellers", "Catching the Stars", "The Pomegranate Tree", "Egoid", "Transformation", etc.).
In recent years the landscape genre has not only maintained its relevance, but also acquired new emphasis associated with the emerging environmental problems. Abdurakhmanova's interest towards this genre has manifested itself in the cycle "The Seasons" ("The Rustle of Leaves", "Spring-time", "The Leaving Summer") in which one can read a deep sorrow. In these paintings the artist admirers the vitality of plants, the hard-to-grasp colour combinations using which she succeeds in accurately conveying the state of nature.
Her mastery of a painter, her drafting skill and ability to accurately portray psychological characteristics are typical of her female portraits. The artist's canvas "The Golden Mask" is emotional and intellectual; it expresses an indissoluble connection between generations, the past, the present and the future.
The creative work of Galiya Abdurakhmanova is akin to the realistic vision of the world. The expressive painting of Mikhail Antonov can be perceived by one as completely opposite; Antonov is one of the remarkable representatives of the so-called Mixed-Modern style. He beckons the viewer into his secret inner world, transforming the outer shell of reality, synthesizing and creating another environment that is associated with a dream, with intuitive aspiration for perfection and harmony. As the artist noted, the evolution of his creative work had been significantly influenced by I. V. Savitskiy, the founder of the Art Museum in Karakalpakstan that now has his name.
As if coming alive and causing an entire spectrum of sensations, the imaginary world of the artist is reflected in portraits and landscapes, still-life paintings and thematic pictures ("Self-portrait", "The Portrait of the Young Man", "The Portrait of the Old Woman", "Oriental Madonna", "Landscape with a Tree", "In a Tugai Grove", "Autumnal Landscape", "The Small Lake", "The Little Yard", "At the Source", "In the Old Town", "Melons and Roses", "Dastarkhan in the Garden", "Still-life on the Landscape Background", "The Water has Come", "The Cotton Fest", "The Harvest Fest", "The Wrestlers", "Thoughts of the Past", "Oriental Bazaar", "Baking the Bread", "Expectation", The Aral", etc.).
What is important in Antonov's later works is not the presentation of a specific phenomenon, but the communication of associations it causes. Such are the "Idols", "The Fisherman", "Conversation", "Still-life", "Emerald Composition", "Premonition", "Landscape", "Landscape with Idol", "Hope", "The Mermaid", "Noon", Still-live with a Wine Glass", "Mystery", "The Priests", etc. Every canvas of the artist stands out as being carefully thought through and having a stable composition, yet giving an impression that the painting was performed with one breath, beyond space and time.
One of the most remarkable features in his works is an extremely rich palette that informs the pictorial solution and fills the works with shimmer and semi-transparency, silver shades and exquisite lines.
"An Elusive Form" is a canvas that features seemingly vanishing figured on a dark background. The painting is performed in an original colour range with the use of deep-blue, yellow, red, orange, turquoise and brown colours. The artist "structures" the plot as extra-temporal phenomenon that reflects the author's world of imagery and his creative thinking. One can feel the painter's aspiration to show the mystery of life, its transience, the elusive shimmer and soft twinkling of ghostly moonlight.
Characteristic of the artist's creative manner is austere architectonics of the forming elements, constructivism of spatial solution, subtlety of lines and colour rhythms ("Composition No.6", "Entrance", "The Crisis of the Soul", etc.). Turning to the object-free art for Antonov is a need for self-expression through pure forms that exclude any associations with tangible or recognizable material world. "The Dance" is one of such pieces in which Antonov models a peculiar image of the dancer with a dark colour using an expressive drawing. The character appears to be composed of various elongated shapes; the language of the painting is conventional. The liberal spirit and universality of the abstraction enable the artist to express his aesthetic preferences and expose the degree of his painting culture and professional mastery.
In conclusion I would like to note that the creative work of Galiya Abdurakhmanova and Mikhail Antonov is turned to our time; and at the same time it is oriented towards traditional spiritual values of the local culture. The works of the artists always carry new ideas, themes and solutions, flowing into the common stream of contemporary pictorial art of the country.