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Artists from Kazakhstan at Sotheby's

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S. Aitbaev S. Aitbaev "Lunch in the virgin land" (1960)Sotheby’s Auction House in London announced the first ever selling exhibition of the artists from Central Asia and Caucuses called “At the Crossroads” to be held during March 4-12, 2013 reports. Kazakhstan will present 5 paintings of the prominent Kazakh artists.

The exhibition will showcase non-conformist as well as socialist-realist art from the 1960s, right the way through to emerging contemporary practices.

Commenting on this pioneering initiative, Jo Vickery, Senior Director and Head of Sotheby’s Russian Art Department in London, said: “Countries throughout the Caucasus and Central Asia have experienced rapid growth in recent years and this is also true of the art scene there. New collectors, art institutions and galleries are emerging every day, and it is an exciting new geography for Sotheby’s to explore. We are therefore delighted to present this landmark selling exhibition, which encompasses the diverse artistic practices of the region that combine ancient historical roots with techniques at the forefront of contemporary art.”

Salihitdin Aitbaev’s  (1038- 1994) "Lunch in the virgin land"(1960) and Bakhtiyar Tabiev’s  (1940-1999) "Village by the Caspian Sea "(1985) that according to art critics of Kazakhstan, became classics of national fine arts that would disclose to the West an unfamiliar Kazakh art of the Soviet times.

The painting "Lunch in the virgin land" by Salihitdin Aitbaev was very much criticized in 60s and accused of "picassism" and "creating of bourgeois forms" that were alien to the Soviet art, as well as copying of Da Vinci’s "Last Supper" and the artist had to make minor changes for the picture to be accepted.

Another painting "Village by the Caspian Sea" by Bakhtiar Tabiev, shows Kazakh traditional life style and its close ties with nature.

The third work belongs to Sergei Maslov, “White nights in the steppe” (1995). Sergei Maslov is a Kazahk avant-gardist. In the 1990s for his “The East is a delicate matter” creation he was dismissed from art academy where he was teaching. His last job was the watchman in Voyger gallery. A month before his death Maslov held an exhibition in Berlin as one of the most interesting artists of Kazakhstan.

Two more works of living Kazakhstan artists - Almagul Menlibayeva and George Tryakin-Bukharov will be exhibited at Sotheby’s.

“Aral. Beach. 2” (2011) is Menlibayeva’s photo art. A naked girl lying on the beach next to abandoned barge, contrasting beauty to ugliness. This photo is part of her photographic series that she made about history and present living conditions of the dying Aral Sea. Almagul started her carrier as an artist, then she experimented with video art and photos.

“Golden ratio” (1991) by George Tryakin-Bukharov is the 5th work to be exhibited in London. George Tryakin-Bukharov is considered to be the father of the Kazakh pop art and installation.

The materials that he uses for his works are the things thrown away into garbage bins: pig-iron baths, pipes, pans, newspapers and so forth.

He said that for his work he dismantled his wooden fence and also used a window frame of the closed fire depot. In the centre of the composition there is a small icon.

The aim of this exceptional exhibition is to highlight the diverse cultural expressions of the region, while exploring its shared Soviet past. The title ‘At The Crossroads’ suggests the transitory stage in which the countries from the region find themselves, both socio-politically and in terms of artistic production. Having emerged from the communist USSR some 20 years ago, these countries are rapidly progressing towards Western ideals of capitalism, which is transposed on their pre-communist traditions and a shared – and lingering – socialist past.

by Zeena Urynbassarova

March 2 2013, 14:30

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