Happy New Year!
Trip Start Jun 10, 2006
32Trip End Jun 14, 2007
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This time of year is really exciting here. There are many parties to attend, and everyone seems to be in a frenzy, getting ready not so much for Christmas but for New Years, when everyone will exchange presents and have large dinners of besbarmak(Wikipedia.com spelling-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazakh_cuisine) and lots of Vodka to wash it down.
I thought everyone would like to see what goes on at art openings here in Almaty. So, I'm posting some photos of the last show I was in at the beginning of December. I think you guys will be pleasantly surprised to see they don't look or dress much different than a typical hipster at any art opening in San Francisco or New York.
The night of this show was for the opening of the Seismograms exhibit at the Soros Center For Contemporary Arts
Lots of good art was shown this night. I really have to hand it the the director Valeria Ibraeva. She really knows how to put on an opening. There were lots of people. Around over 100 people showed up for this event, including television and radio news reporters. I really got to meet some nice people that night. I am learning a little about how to work as an artist here in Kazakhstan. Most of your time is to produce good, thought provoking art and then when you show this work you really have to use the mass-media to get the word out about yourself and your art. So, it's important to get yourself on the news and really speak your mind.
No good art show should open without any controversy. One of my friends and colleagues, Malik Abyshev faced a little problem with his work after producing, in my opinion the most successful art piece in the show. His work was a computer rendering print of the work of Kenbaev, a mid-20th century master Kazakh painter. The painting is a scene of two horse riders on the steppe with the mountains in the background, capturing a wild horse
I was very surprised by how this son was so protective over his fathers work. Valeria says it is often the case that the children of these classic Kazakh painters are very protective over the rights of their family works. I don't think I've really seen this before in the media over saturated west. I think this would have just been seen as an opportunity to re-appreciate the works of an artist from the past put into a contemporary context.
Most troubling of all, is the that there is a rift between these artists at the Soros Center For Contemporary Arts and the Soviet Artists who seem to have different aesthetic and political sensibilities
The concern of the major art institutions here is to develop local Kazakh art to help build on the national identity. So, I'm lucky to work with Valeria and the Soros Center, because it is the only institution that helps foreign artists to work with locals. Out of the 20 or so artists working with Valeria, I am one of the very few painters. There seems to be a stigma against painters amongst the artists at the Soros Center. They sort of feel that painting is dead. I think that most of them were surprised that I use the media of painting in a way that isn't classical in it's content and technique. I use anything to paint on canvas;spray paint, markers, oil, or whatever leaves a mark on a raw or primed canvas. I've heard this has a lot to do with the idea that many painters in Kazakhstan have been very successful with foreigners buying their works
Anyhow, Enough of me ranting about art. Check out my photos. Oh, write to me please. I really want to know what you all think of these photos. Let me know what is going on in your life.