Bahodir Jalalov, the People’s Artist of Uzbekistan, Academician ofthe Academy of Art of Uzbekistan, Professor, the 1984 National Award laureate and the winner of the 1991 Navoi National Awardturned 60 thisyear.
Art historians A Khakimov and Sh. Shukurov tell our readers about him. And the artist himself shares his thoughts with us.

.. .He writes verses in which spontaneity is born through impulsive urge for finding verbal identity of his artistic ego in the boundless and chaotic stream of contemporary art.

In the sacral space he is trying to single out harmony, to see his own flight «over the.. .nest» ofthe universe and create new artistic reality that reflects «the essence ofthe Universal Law -the universal interconnection and interrelation, the link between all elements and structures of living and nonliving matter and Spirit» (hereinafter quotation marks contain quotations from an interview with the artist).

He mystifies space, turning at the same time to universal cosmic categories and moral definitions: «Space permeated with the Universal Energy that steers all processes, birth and decay, heyday and fading, the interchange of Darkness and Light, Good and Evil that is the space in my thoughts, in my images, in my canvases».

He creates murals in which the search for tranquillity defers to grand scenes with interacting reminiscences ofthe heritage of the world culture golden ages — medieval Oriental poetics and Italian Renaissance. Elatedly in love with Oriental poetry and art, having visited Italy in 1978 he was stunned by the works of Renaissance masters. These centres of global civilization constitute the primary culture-philosophic and plastic source of his creative action in monumental art.

He paints pictures that are the paradoxical combination of reality and phantasmagoria of symbols and allegories excited by that same reality. All his search for «new artistic reality» taking place on the junction between academicism and modernist experiments have manifested themselves with a particular energy and expressivity in his easel painting. Another dilemma «East-West» — is also quite relevant for the critics’ perception of the artist’s paintings and for his own self-assessment. «I am an Asian by mentality, and even when I do an exhibition in Europe showing, in my view, modernist items, they regard me primarily as a representative of the East, referring to me as Uzbek modernist’. This was the feedback to my work in Belgium».

He is a virtuoso draftsman: his graphic experiments and complete compositions have an artistic value of their own, yet at the same time they often become visual framework for subsequent compositional solutions in his paintings or monumental works.

Jalalov possesses a unique spatial-plastic thinking and therefore is excited to work with three-dimensionally modelled objects; hence his interest towards installation and sculptural compositions.

He is famous, yet prone to misgivings, and internal ambivalence accompanies him as before. Intuition that has always been strong in him leads him today and argues with the philosophy of academic painting that had developed over the previous decades and with the paradigm of systematizing analytical art. «I hear a dialogue going on inside me now. I believe the most important a combination of serious studies of painting as craft and learning academic skills with treasuring one’s own independent judgement and vision. The academic and the independent, abstract live inside me since my student years».

This argument is scholastic — there is no antagonism in it. In the artist’s work live together East and West, academicism and modernism, reality and fantasy, intuition and calculated decisions, easel and monumental painting, plane-ness and spatial-ness… Ranking in consecutive stages or intermitting in a kaleidoscopic symbiosis of bewildering diversity of paintings, monumental murals, drawings and verses, these oppositions constitute the essence of the art created by one of the most unordinary 20th century artists of Uzbekistan.

By Akbar Khakimov