Group Show of Central Asian Contemporary Artists

February, 2020 — October, 2020


Aspan Gallery is pleased to present group show of Central Asian contemporary artists Ornamentum.

Since gaining independence, in many post-Soviet countries national ornaments have acquired a grotesque character. In search of a national identity, authorities have used every possible method to promote and encourage the use of national motifs in fine arts, applied arts, architecture, state symbols, and industrial design. In ancient times these ornaments carried a sacred, cosmological and philosophical meaning, but now they have become kitsch. Pseudo-ethnic decorative style can be found both on flags and emblems, and on benches and garbage cans.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the former republics had to quickly transition from the Soviet system and all of it external attributes to a new state with a new identity. This was done on the ruins of the former system and often they only altered their external appearance, but fundamentally stayed the same internally. In order to distance themselves from the former regime, it was enough to just repaint products in the new national color and add ornamentation.

The four artists, who were brought together for this exhibition, will be displaying their vision of ornamentation in art. The use of ornamentation in their art should be interpreted, not just through its plastic form, but in a broader sense; as the aim of art to convey the true nature of things, not limited to its external resemblances. In the work there is no hierarchy; fine and applied arts, tradition and innovation, high art and pop culture, are all used together.

Dilyara Kaipova (1967, Tashkent)

Uzbek artist, Dilyara Kaipova, reinterprets traditional Uzbek ikat motifs by mixing them with characters and symbols from modern pop culture, including Mickey Mouse, Captain America, and the mask from “Scream”. These easily recognizable pop culture images are “woven” into abra fabrics and robes creating powerful statements about globalization and its impact on values and national identity. Kaipova’s textile work was first shown in 2016 in Tashkent and since then has been displayed in exhibitions in Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Russia, and the UAE. The BBC reported on the artist’s work.

Marat Raiymkulov (1984, Bishkek)

Marat Raiymkulov is one of the founders of the Bishkek art collective 705, which brought its modern theatrical productions to Almaty. Raiymkulov creates graphic illustrations and monumental paintings, in which fantastical characters and stories, based on everyday life, become their own kind of ornament. His work forces us to think of our lives as if it was a continuous ornament, in which different elements change, reincarnate, pass into one another, while often becoming completely absurd. Raiymkulov’s work has been presented in Kyrgyzstan, Norway, Switzerland, UAE, USA, and in Italy, included in the Central Asian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2011.

Bakhyt Bubikanova (1985, Aktobe)

Kazakh artist, Bakhyt Bubikanova, is presenting a new series of paintings, in which she considers the canvas as a square in a notebook. On her “notebook pages”, as if returning to a school lesson, Bubikanova draws different ornaments, limited to one notebook square, which many of us draw without thinking. These casually drawn patterns and ornaments are a reflection of a visual code and psyche and serve as monuments of our era.

Yelena and Viktor Vorobyev (1959, Balkanabat; 1959, Pavlodar)

In 2015, Yelena and Viktor Vorobyev erected a monumental installation; a labyrinth in the form of a Kazakh ornament called the “Ornamentalizer” in the lobby of the Kasteev Museum in Almaty for their retrospective exhibition “The Artist is Sleeping”. For our new exhibition they will return to a previous topic with a series of new projects. They see traces of ornamentation in everything that surrounds us and turn our attention to ordinary things that we normally don’t notice with a touch of irony.

Dates: February 11 - April 12, 2020

Opening: Tuesday, February 11, 7pm

Talk with the Artists: Saturday, February 15, 3pm

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