To the 565th-anniversary

«…Not so many people were in rather big and very cold room with windows facing the Neva. Wrapped up figures were sitting on chairs chaotically set. I hardly recognized familiar faces changed by troubles of blockade so much.

A. Abdullayev. Alisher Navoi.
1991. Canvas, oil.

Academician I. A. Orbeli, Director of the Hermitage, has taken the chair. Having shed something reminding shabby overcoat, he remained in quilted jacket and scarf enfolding the neck…. His big dark eyes were getting brighter and brighter as he was speaking excitedly and convincingly…. He said: «In extraordinary situation our city is surviving, we have met to celebrate the remarkable date in cultural life of our peoples and to remember the great poet and philosopher Alisher Navoi. The fact that we honour the poet in Leningrad, suffering troubles of hunger and cold, in the city which enemies think dead, again proves courage and spiritual power of our people as well as humanistic nature of our science! …Reports and Navoi’s verses, translated by poets and orientalists, were being read. Ancient original poems were sounding and speaking about peace, pleasure of life and victory of human mind over darkness of cruelty and oppression».

For many centuries, genius of great Navoi and brilliant galaxy of philosophers, poets, artists, calligraphers and ornamentalists, working beside him and creating remarkable products, has excited imagination of researchers, artists and amateurs of art. Their art will remain in history of world culture for ever. They founded schools and art directions. They were followed by many imitators and interpreters.

Ch. Ahmarov. Young Navoi.

At the beginning of the 21st century, a century of information and computerization, otherwise, dynamics of sci-tech civilization, we again address to Alisher Navoi’s heritage and his epoch. So, we not only render a worthy tribute to the founder of Uzbek language and literature, but find answers to eternal questions of human being: what is a human nature, his searches for harmony in the nature and society and his aspiration to spirituality and beauty.
Searches for self-identification of Uzbek national art in the period of independence, new conceptualization of historical and cultural heritage and necessity to base on own «genealogy» of art traditions made researchers to turn again to Alisher Navoi. Opening of National Park named after Alisher Navoi, construction of monuments to the great poet in Tashkent (E. Aliev, N. Bandeladze, V. Degtyarev), Chirchik (A. Rahmatullaev, L. Ryabtsev) and Navoi (A. Rahmatullaev, P. Podosinnikov), reproduction of his image in painting, graphics, theatre, cinema, music and literature show a keen interest not only to individuality of great philosopher, but also to traditions of his poetry bearing high spirituality.

P. Shobaratov. Bahrom at hunting.
Illustration to A. Navoi’s «Sab’ai sayo»
(«Seven planets»). 2006

Why does Alisher Navoi seem so much attractive to the contemporary?

First, as N. Conrad noted, surprising is universalism of Alisher Navoi’s minding that reached a global level (2, p. 275). This is not simple universalism of Navoi who combined talents of poet, artist, musician, theorist of literature, historian and calligrapher. This is universalism concerning the conceptual basis of artistic culture in general which covers achievements of different peoples, different historical epochs, different religions and artistic traditions. Let’s look again at heroes from «Hamsa»: Farhad is the Chinese. Kais — the Arab, Shirin — the Armenian, Shapur — the Persian and Iskander — the Greek. That means that principles of global consciousnesses, synthesis of the national and panhuman and dialogue of cultures, turned so vital in the 20th century, were absolutely normal for artistic culture of Navoi’s epoch and foundations of its ideology.

Second, a dominating principle of the poet is humanism. Love, sympathy and mercy to a person sound in all of his works. These feelings become the most desired by people having survived historical, political, ideological, social, ecological and other cataclysms of the 20th century. Unfortunately, sociological interviews in cities of some countries showed that schoolchildren perfectly know terminology of western pop culture, but have no ideas about «mercy».

T. Faddeva. Devotion to A. Navoi.
2003. Canvas, oil

Personages of Navoi fight for personal freedom, love and happiness, therefore they are close, clear and loved by readers of all times and all peoples.

Thirdly, Alisher Navoi is unprecedented example of patronage upon culture. Historians Mirhond and Hondemir, musicians Hussain Udi and Kulmuhamed Nai, artists Bihzad and Shah Muzaffar, calligraphers Sultan Ali and Mir Ali, as well as many other artists entered the world of culture thanks to protection of Alisher Navoi. The epoch formed Navoi, and Navoi created the epoch.

Zahiriddina Babur wrote that in Herat «everybody tried to reach perfection in his business,» (3, p. 12). It was a major criterion of creative activity, first of all, of Navoi himself. That is, fourthly, Navoi and his epoch show professionalism of high level, full devotion to art, searches and knowledge. At last this is Alisher Navoi’s boundless love for native land, people, culture and language. Let’s remember the work by Navoi «Ideas on two languages» where the great poet proved advantages of native language, its rich lexis, variety and felicity of poetic forms. Some scholars wrote that «he convinced contemporary poets to write in the native language how he did and preached up a status of native language as literary language».

M. Fozili. Great Navoi. 2001. Canvas, oil

What new has the art of the period of independence contributed in creative interpretation of spiritual heritage of Alisher Navoi and his epoch?

Certainly, this is searches of artists for new solutions of portrait characteristics of Alisher Navoi and his famous contemporaries. Abdulhak Abdullaev, one of the famous Uzbek portrait artists of the 20″‘ century, turned to image of the great poet many times. He pointed out: «understanding that my people has no other name being dearer than Navoi required such strong intension I could not assume and even expect…. Sometimes I seemed that I almost felt his breath and I was carried back to that far and unknown world, another epoch and other customs. I as if heard voice of history and its far echo… «.

Among author’s variants there is Alisher Navoi’s portrait on the background of window, through which Herat is seen (1970-1980s) and portrait of Navoi on the background of city panorama (1970-1980s). Right at the beginning of the 1990s, the artist gave one more interpretation of Navoi’s image. Probably, it imitates the previous composition — the poet against the city panorama. At the same time, the artist enriched the psychological characteristic of his favourite image. While his early works accented majesty and spiritual height (the first work), dramatic destiny, fine nature and vulnerability of Navoi (the second work), the A. Abdullaev’s work of 1991 accents wisdom and highness of the character exalted not only over the city, but over the history. This work gives the image of great poet and shows love of his grateful descendants for him. Such interpretation became a basis for some monumental works devoted to Navoi in the period of independence of the republic.

D. Ruzybaev A. Navoi. 2000. Chamotte

Image of Alisher Navoi was created in such works as S. Abdullaev’s «Good-bye, Samarkand» (1991), K. Basharov’s «Alisher Navoi among students» (1990), R. Rizamuhamedov’s «Result of the life» (2003), M. Fozilov’s «Great Navoi» (2001), D. Ruzybaev’s «Alisher Navoi» (2000), B. Khadzhimetov’s «Alisher Navoi» (2002) and others. Each artist tried to find own thematic line, compositional and color solution, and, what is the most important, to give own vision of the genius.

Difficult for artists is to overcome stereotype of Navoi’s image which may shade the inner life of Navoi, interpreted by different artists in own way. Sometimes, it seems that we know about Navoi everything, but at the same time we feel own weakness before the genius and lack of self-confidence in attempts to open his inner life and to give own interpretation, capable to convince the most experienced spectator. The artists give both realistic and conditionally metaphorical interpretations. For example, in M. Fozili’s work of «Great Navoi», the artist placed Navoi and his personages in cosmos. He as if emphasizes highness and, immortality of the poet and his spiritual heritage which is out of Time and Space. Another meaning of this work could be: Navoi’s poetry is Sufi comprehension of the world which can not be understood without adequate and scrupulous interpretation of symbols. M. Fozili’s picture as if illustrates a Sufi idea: the God — Absolute exists out of us and at the same time inside us, and harmony of the world is possible only in integration and merge with the Creator.

N. Holmatov. Path of knoledge.
1996. Cnavas, oil

In contemporary art of Uzbekistan the worthy place belongs to works devoted to contemporaries of Navoi, in particular, Kamaleddin Bihzad. For example, T. Sagdullaev’s «Kamaleddin Bihzad and Alisher Navoi» (2000), A. Ikramdjanov’s «Kamaleddin Bihzad» (1996), Dj. Mirtadjiev’s «Kamaleddin Bihzad» (2003) and others. Original and deep is the work by A. Ikramdjanov devoted to Bihzad. Placing the great artist in some conditional decorative space, A. Ikramdjanov tried to show Navoi’s inner life surprising by harmony, purity and contact with rhythms of the universe. The image of Bihzad as if embodies the universe in spite of seeming detachment. The artist and his art merge, as if affirming value and primacy of the true and sacred.

The works illustrating Alisher Navoi’s poems occupy a special place in today’s art of Uzbekistan. These are B. Djalalov’s illustrations to «Hamsa» (1986), S. Muhamedjanov’s to «Farhad and Shirin» (2002), G. Kamalov’s «Bahrom and Dilorom» to Navoi’s poem «Seven planets» (2004), P. Shabaratov’a «Bahrom at hunting» — to the same poem (2001), V. An’s «Dilarom and Bahrom at hunting» (2000) and others. Let’s remember the subject of «Seven planets» finishing «Hamsa» where great Alisher Navoi refused from traditional interpretation of Bahrom, an ancient Iranian king, as a debauchee and drunkard. A. Navoi interpreted him as bold Iranian shah capable to love sincerely his country and people of beloved woman.

T. Muhammedov. «Farhad and Shirin».
1970. Paper, tempera

For example, G. Kamalov expose a scene of hunting of Bahrom and Dilorom, which caused their parting. By means of miniature painting canons, the artist shows feeling of love and happiness of personages which do not guess about coming parting and troubles. Besides illustrations to Navoi’s works in contemporary art of Uzbekistan, there are works reproducing ethic and aesthetic values, spiritual searches and philosophical foundations of artistic culture of Navoi’s epoch. These are N. Holmatov’s «Tariqat» (1996), A. Nur’s «Wheel of eternity» (2001), Dj. Usmanov’s «Seven planets» (1998), F. Ahmadaliev’s «Dervishes» (2003), P. Annenkov’s «Legend about the ship» (1995), S. Shoahmedov’s «East beauty» (2002), N.Holmatov. Path of knowledge. 1996. Canvas, oil. B. Babanazarov’s «Cradle of life» (1998), T. Karimov’s «Laili» (1999), M. Isanov’s «Pomegranate in love» (2001), T. Fadeeva’s «Dedication to Alisher Navoi» (2003) and many others. In spite of the works can be done in style of contemporary directions — avant-garde and postmodernism, they are united with Navoi’s epoch by world vision, philosophy and poetic character.

For example, T. Fadeeva used postmodernist means to create her conditional composition in the work of «Dedication to Alisher Navoi» — installation consisting of fragments from ancient manuscripts, burning candles and spatial volumes. It gives feeling of play, theatre, uncertainty and performance, but at the same time its spatial solutions as if revive Alisher Navoi’s epoch and spirit of his works, what emotionally influence on spectators much.

E. E. Bertels wrote: «Art of Navoi is not a museum exhibit, but a piece of history. It lives and will live further. We are studying him, but have studied not so well yet. To venerate memory of the great poet and to study his heritage is an issue of honour of Uzbek people… «.

In the epoch of Navoi, Sufi communities were environment where formed the spiritual elite, which searches promoted ideas of universalism, humanism and everything best that became a spiritual heritage of Uzbek people. According to some scholars, the philosophical content of that epoch was expressed metaphorically (5, p. 267). The intuitive self-discovery, contemplation of the God deepening in the soul, beauty as a sense of divine comprehension, dismissal from small events, harmony of the world, correlation of microcosm and macrocosm, idea on perfect person, philosophy of love — many of these ideas became close and clear to people of the 20th century.

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Kamola Akilova