(to the 100 — anniversary of National Artist Iskandar Ikramov (1904 — 1964)

The career of one of the founders of Uzbek book graphics, the national artist of Uzbekistan, Iskandar Ikramov occupies a special place in the history of fine arts of the republic. From childhood, I. Ikramov was interested in art, appreciating it as a real magic. The profession of his father, Shoikrom-aka, was far from art, but he managed to understand and support aspirations of the son, who got the education at the Regional Art School of Turkistan (1921 — 1923). The early art works of the artist — caricatures were published at the comic journal «Mushtum». In the memoirs, the artist wrote: «At the suggestion of the editors of journal «Mushtum», Abdullah Kadiri and Gaza Yunus, despite lack of my skills and experience in a caricature, I, just a beginner in the art, was allowed to publish my works on pages of journal «Mushtum» (from the archive of journal «Mushtum», 16.02.1972). At the same time, the young artist worked in book graphics. In 1924, he entered VHUTEMAS (High Art-Technical Studios) at the Leningrad Academy of Arts.

Iskandar learned the secrets of the book illustration at famous Leningrad teachers. Having received the diploma of book illustrator and methodist in paintings, he returned to Uzbekistan, where headed the department of graphics at the Samarkand state publishing house. The art carrier of Ikramov began from the first, in Uzbekistan, polygraphic artist.

At the beginning of the 1930s. I. Ikramov designed such new Uzbek journals, as «Younghi yil», «Maoraf wa ituvchi» and «Alanga». Besides that, he published articles about education and art, propagating spiritual — educational values. In the same period, the Russian artists, which well knew the life of the Uzbek people, its ancient history and highly respected its traditional art heritage, were involved in the work of the publishing house.

Famous writer Oibek wrote about the artist: «the First Uzbek artist — polygraphist — book «doctor», our friend Iskandar is extremely fond of his work. Sincerity of the artist and originality of his works are traced in all strokes and lines. Like any other gifted artist, Iskandar well feels secrets of lines and colours and animate them».

Multiyear pedagogical researches of the artist resulted in schoolbooks «The study of drawing» and «About printing of newspapers and books» (1933). In these books, Iskandar Ikramov tried to solve the problem of fine arts teaching at Uzbek schools.

In book graphics of the artist, a special place belongs to illustrations to works of the great scientists (Biruni, Abu Ali ibn Sino), the Uzbek poets and writers (Navoi, Lutfi, Khamza, Oibek, H. Alimjan and G. Gulyam). Illustrating the books, the artist perfectly used traditions of ornamental art «nassoshlik». His first experiences in this field resulted in ornamental compositions to the musical libretto on A. Navoi’s «Farhad and Shirin». Working at them, the artist used such motifs, as «sush jadval», «tamga» and «islimi». The geometrical and vegetative patterns he created in traditions of oriental ornament, decorating bindings and pages of books, draw attention by their refine and exquisite technique.

Using traditional graphic and expressive means, the artist turns the book into a true pearl of the art. Each time, the artist created a book becoming a true masterpiece, exposing rich colour combinations — a dark red background and silvery pattern, velvet fly-leaves («bahmal»), title pages with large ornamented medallions and patterns «islimi» illuminating its pages.

One of features of Iskandar Ikramov’s creativity is deep knowledge in rules and laws of book illustration, perfect understanding of purposes of a book design. These features were brightly exposed in the books published to the 500 — anniversary of A. Navoi — masterpieces of world literature «Khamsa», «Farhad and Shirin», «Laili and Madjnun». The artist managed to realize the essence of these works by means of graphics.

Using traditional patterns (naskh), the artist tried to give their modern interpretation. His drawings became samples of the graphic works, performed in a national style, polygraphically they were absolutely perfect. When he was a child, the artist got traditional education, thanks to which he knew well the history of Islamic culture, the Arabian alphabet and script, the Uzbek music and applied arts. Deep knowledge in national traditions allowed him to popularize the culture and art of the Uzbek people by means of book illustration.

Contemporaries of Ikramov, artists Samig Abdullaev, Lutfullah Abdullaev, Cninggis Ahmarov, Khikmat Rahmanov, Malik Nabiev and others in their memoirs marked such his features, as politeness, intelligence, accuracy and order in the work.

In the art of Ikramov, an important place belongs to illustration of the books of poets and writers of different nations, what testify to his broad outlook and a variety of styles. In the 1960s, I. Ikramov — one of the leading graphic artists working in book illustration and enriching this art by features of a national originality. The books, the artist had illustrated for that years, received a high estimation at all-Union and foreign exhibitions. At the International book exhibition, which was held in Leipzig (Germany, 1959), for the book «Lyrics» of A. Navoi, the artist was awarded the medal, becoming a recognition of achievements of the Uzbek book art. The same year, I. Ikramov was appointed a chairman of the Board of the Union of Artists of Uzbekistan. As a chairman of the board, he did much for development of fine arts in the republic, for improvement of organizational structure and art foundations of the Union.

In 1964, at the State Museum of Arts was held the exhibition devoted to the 60 — anniversary of I. Ikramov, where were exposed his last works. The Union of Artists published the monograph about the artist in Uzbek. Today, the books with unique and exquisite patterns performed by I. Ikramov keep eternal memory about this outstanding artist and person.

Author: Shoira Gulomova