Nurbol Nurakhmet


April, 2019 — May, 2019

Nurbol Nurakhmet

Aspan Gallery is delighted to present a solo show of Kazakhstani artist Nurbol Nurakhmet Split. The exhibition includes a number of painting, collage and lithograph series produced in the last few years of very prolific work. The show is curated by an independent curator and art-critic PhD Yuliya Sorokina.

Nurbol Nurakhmet (b. 1986) is one of the most important artists from the younger generation of Central Asian contemporary artists. He graduated from the Zhurgenov Kazakh National Academy and the Academy of Arts of the University of San Francisco. In his work he relies on traditional mediums – painting, collage, drawing and lithography, which in the age of ubiquitous use of photography, video and art of direct action provide a fresh approach to art making.

In the exhibited series, Nurakhmet attempts to conclude a visual analysis of a range of problems that interest him. He uses fragmentation, splitting, collaging of meanings, images and feelings as his tools. That partly explains why his protagonists are often nude or sometimes even deprived of skin as a cover.

The exhibition includes works, in which the author dwells on the destiny of the Kazakh nation in the context of global issues of contemporaneity. Abay’s Room (2018), for example, is filled with numerous plaster casts, Classical in form, depicting figures from European and Russian history. In this tight storage space of cast figures, which is a common attribute of any academic painting school, we can see figures of those who influenced and continue to influence the culture of Kazakhstan.

Birch Grove. Kenesary (2019) leads our imagination to the historical hypothesis and mythologems. Here we see a story of the last Kazakh khan, who died opposing to the advances of the Russian Empire and, according to some theories, beheaded. For the artist this is emblematic of the loss of the national identity.

The painting series Missionaries (2016-2018) and a digital collage series Keyhole (2018) both speak about the artificiality of Eurocentric canonization of artistic understanding. In the painting series torsos of Classical sculptures are dispersed in the steppe, replacing the ancient steppe stone figures balbals. In the collages we have to peep through outlines of Classical female torsos to see Nurakhmet’s own works.

A separate body of works is dedicated to Nurakhmet’s studio-based life drawing sessions. The exhibition features a whole series of drawings and their translation into lithographs. Here the author demonstrates not only his knowledge of human anatomy, but also touches upon important theoretical discourses of the 20th century – the problem of corporeality and mechanical reproduction.

The triptych Wednesday, Constellation and Thursday (2018) form the exhibition’s core. The viewer can see the painting Constellation depicting the monument of Kazakh poet, Abay, in Almaty from exhibitions “At the Corner: City, Place, People” at the Tselinny Centre of Contemporary Culture and “Bad Jokes. 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” in Almaty and Astana. In the current show, however, the painting is shown for the first time as part of a triptych, as artist had intended. The ‘postcard perfect’ cityscapes of the three canvases seem to be captured in day time, yet the lighting is explicitly artificial, like in a theatre, revealing the inner conflict of the depicted sights as places for leisure and as places where violent protests took place in recent past.

Nurakhmet’s monumental painting Censorship #3 concludes the exhibition. Produced during his residency at the Yarat Contemporary Art Space in Baku, the composition translates the human readiness to turn a blind eye when needed.

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