Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Fantasy World of Uzbek Textile Artist Dilyara Kaipova

Kapow! Kaipova's Batman ikat fabric
Meet the incredibly talented and innovative Uzbek textile designer and artist Dilyara Kaipova.

After graduating from the design faculty of Tashkent's Republican Art School named after Pavel Benkov, Kaipova worked as a designer at the Muqimiy Musical Theatre in Tashkent.

That was followed by a stint as master of hand puppets at the Uzbekistan State Institute of Arts and Culture.

However, since childhood she has been fascinated by needlework, knitting and embroidery. As these practices seeped into contemporary art, much of the focus of her creative activity shifted from painting (usually in soft pastels) to textiles.

Her first textile project "Captain Ikat" explored how traditional arts - in this case ikat fabric - can absorb and be devalued by symbols and cliches of mass culture.

The artist Dilyara Kaipova
Yet the paradox is that these same cliches can also invigorate and transform national traditions. The fabric, even when woven with designs of Mickey Mouse or Batman, magically still came alive.

As Kaipova commented:"I think it's a big mistake to try to "fossilize" traditions,  as it's impossible to change the course of history, they evolve independently of us, of our influence."

She also noted that since childhood she had wanted to understand what "embroidery and ikat ornamentation symbolised and, simultaneously, I wanted to interfere with it, to change it".

Working with masters in the ikat weaving centre of Margilan, in eastern Uzbekistan over five months, Kaipova produced classical, hand-woven adras fabrics (silk and cotton mix)  infused with Mickey Mouse, The Scream, Batman and Darth Vader.  Fabric was also produced with a Stars and Stripes motif.

Kaipova laughed, with respect, that although those masters thought she was totally crazy, they worked enthusiastically with her, creating these magical works.

The "Captain Ikat" exhibition was held in Tashkent in October 2016.  Reactions were varied - from enthusiastic delight through bewilderment and shock. For Kaipova it was the realization of her "childhood desire" and she described the happiness she experienced through the project.

O Boy! It's a Mickey Mouse ikat coat designed and stitched by Tashkent textile artist Dilyara Kaipova

Edvard Munch's The Scream woven into ikat fabric.

A Darth Vader traditional Uzbek chapan (coat), designed by Dilyara Kaipova

In April 2017 Kaipova participated in a contemporary art exhibition/competition in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Her works included some of these ikat fabrics as well as photographs, another artistic direction she pursues with passion. She won first prize.

Now she is preparing for a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Uzbekistan in November.  The exhibition's theme is not yet determined.

Dilyara Kaipova - portrait as Mickey
Kaipova feels that, although ikat is always in her heart, for the moment she has exhausted this theme of globalization, consumerism and tradition. However, Uzbek traditional textiles present inexhaustible ideas for her work.

Collaboration is at the heart of Kaipova's practice and she now would like to work with fashion and interior designers.

This is how the BBC wrote of her paintings in an interview: "her  favorite art medium is soft pastels. Dilyara’s subjects come straight from her imagination, and her subject matter can be simultaneously hilarious and scary.

Her imagery of invented characters that look like "freaks" or little monsters is the artist’s chosen motifs to comment on the hopeless and ridiculous aspects of human existence. She fills her world with "puppet Lolitas’" where their expressions conceal and reveal purity and decay, cuteness and ugliness".

Dilyara Kaipova's work is available for purchase and she works on special commissions. Please see below for more images of this multi-talented artist.

You can also follow her and contact her on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dilyara.kaipova
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/crazy_for_ikat/

Sally Clarke, of Asian Art Advisory, provided helpful inputs into Dilyara Kaipova's work. Uzbek Journeys will report on Kaipova's end-of-year solo exhibition.

Related posts: Sacrament of Magic Yarn - Madina Kasimbaeva's Exhibition, Tashkent
Ikat: The "Thread That Connects Generations" Exhibition, Tashkent
Tashkent Nostalgie - Eugene Panov's Exhibition, Tashkent 

Mermaid, soft pastel work by  Dilyara Kaipova
Dilyara Kaipova's Humpty Dumpty doll

Dilyara Kaipova's  Stars and Stripes ikat for her Captain Ikat exhibition

Dilyara Kaipova is also a master of doll and puppet making

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Yulia Drobova: Graphic and Mosaic Works, Tashkent Exhibition 7 - 18 September

yulia drobova tashkent graphic designer, yulia drobova mosaic illustrations tashkent, yulia drobova designer illustrator graphic artist
Poster for Yulia Drobova's exhibtion, Tashkent
If you are lucky enough to be in Tashkent this month, please do not miss this exhibition.

Graphic artist and illustrator Yulia Drobova's new exhibition opens at Tashkent's Alliance Fran├žaise on 7 September and runs until 18 September.

As well as her charming graphic works, the exhibition will include unique mosaic pieces, a medium in which Yulia has recently begun working.

Her first glass mosaic pieces were a series of chickens, created to celebrate the Year of the Rooster.

Yulia found the medium exciting and challenging to work with. She documented the process in an interesting post on her website. This exhibition includes many pieces from her new series.

Yulia works in diverse spheres: book illustration, advertising videos, theatrical poster designs, textiles and stencils. For a deeper understanding of how she works, please review an earlier post Yulia Drobova's End of Winter Exhibition.

The Alliance Fran├žaise is located at 112 Zulfiyaxonim Street, Tashkent. Opening hours are Tuesday - Friday 14:00 - 19:00 and Saturday 14:00 - 18:00. Closed Sundays and Mondays. Call ahead to get directions: + 998 71 2449408/+ 998 71 2449409

yulia drobova tashkent graphic designer, yulia drobova mosaic illustrations tashkent, yulia drobova designer illustrator graphic artist
Insect and flower in glass mosaic. ©  Yulia Drobova
The exhibition opening is at 6:30 p.m.  Thursday 7 September. Free entry. Works are for sale.

Enjoy a sample of images of her work below. If you miss the exhibition, you can order pieces directly by contacting Yulia via her website. You can also follow her work on Instagram.

I think she is one of the most talented artists working in Tashkent today - I am also the delighted owner of several whimsical pieces.

Related posts:
Yulia Drobova’s "End of Winter" Exhibition
Yulia Drobova - Uzbek Illustrator and Designer
Propaganda Posters of the Soviet East: 1918 -1940

yulia drobova tashkent graphic designer, yulia drobova mosaic illustrations tashkent, yulia drobova designer illustrator graphic artist
Continuation of our conversation. Ink drawing. ©  Yulia Drobova
yulia drobova tashkent graphic designer, yulia drobova mosaic illustrations tashkent, yulia drobova designer illustrator graphic artist
From the Chicken Series, glass mosaic. ©  Yulia Drobova
yulia drobova tashkent graphic designer, yulia drobova mosaic illustrations tashkent, yulia drobova designer illustrator graphic artist
Pear. Stencil - acrylic. ©  Yulia Drobova

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

From Kremlin to Kremlin: African Americans in Uzbekistan, Part #1

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Yosif Stalin Roane's parents, Jospeh and Sadie
This fascinating article was first published on RFE/RL in April 2016.

Yosif Stalin stood before his Kremlin, Virginia USA, home on a windswept, spring afternoon, his weathered hands gripping his walker. "I still own it," he said of the white, two-story house off a lonely country road.

It's no coincidence that this octogenarian was named after one of the 20th century's bloodiest dictators, but it's just half of his name. His full name is Yosif Stalin Kim Roane, and he was the first child of African-American parents ever born in the Soviet Union.

"Didn't nobody pay that no mind," Roane said of his notorious namesake in a recent interview with RFE/RL. "They mostly called me Joe."

Roane, 84, is among the few living offspring of African-Americans who traveled to the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s to seek a better life in the nascent communist state. Most of these voyagers were driven by political convictions or economic hardship amid the Great Depression and pernicious racism in the United States, including the segregationist Jim Crow laws of the American South.

That Roane was born in an empire run from the Kremlin and grew up in this tiny Virginia hamlet of the same name is a coincidence that inspired the title of a recent documentary, Kremlin To Kremlin, aimed at preserving the record of his family's remarkable journey for future generations.

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Yosif Stalin Kim Roane at the exhibtion in Kremlin, USA
The film, produced by local historians, tells the story of Roane's father, Joseph J. Roane, a member of a team of African-American agronomists recruited to bring their expertise to the Soviet Union in the 1930s, most notably to improve cotton production in the Soviet republic of Uzbekistan.

The elder Roane, who died in 1995, is widely credited with helping develop a successful hybrid of American and local cotton capable of growing more quickly in Uzbekistan. "Of course Uzbeks knew cotton growing, but these new types of cotton dealt big changes in the industry," Bekjon Toshmuhammedov, a biology professor from Uzbekistan, tells RFE/RL's Uzbek Service. "As far as I know, Uzbeks still grow the types of cotton created by the Americans."

Raised in a well-to-do African-American family in Kremlin, Virginia USA, Joseph J. Roane studied agronomy in college. After graduating, he was recruited to come to the Soviet Union by Oliver Golden, a black cotton specialist from Mississippi who would ultimately give up his U.S. citizenship and remain a Soviet national until his death in 1940.

Golden had been a student of the renowned African-American agricultural scientist and inventor George Washington Carver, who helped select the team of agronomists. Soviet authorities had seized on the plight of black Americans as an antipode to what they promoted as their new classless society free from racism. Indeed, many of the dozens of African-Americans who relocated to the Soviet Union praised the way they were treated there, even as more and more Soviet citizens were being targeted in the snowballing Stalinist purges.
uzbekistans african american community. uzbekistan small group tours, uzbekistan history art craft tours
Agronomist George Tynes flanked by Soviet army cadets

These travelers came in various groups. In addition to the agronomists recruited by Golden, one group that was brought over to make a Soviet propaganda film about the evils of racism included the influential Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes.

The film never materialized, though Hughes traveled through the Soviet Union and met Golden and the elder Roane in Uzbekistan.

"Then you have some political trainees from the 1920s who were very attracted to this country that professed a nonracial society and actually treated them in a hospitable way that was totally unheard of in the United States," Joy Gleason Carew, author of Blacks, Reds, And Russians: Sojourners In Search Of The Soviet Promise, tells RFE/RL.

"It's amazing when you think about these people willing to leave home, and country, and language, culture for what they hoped would be a better life," adds Carew, an associate professor at the University of Louisville, in Kentucky.

Both Golden and his wife, a Polish-Jewish American named Bertha Beliak, were committed communists. Golden found work as a scientific researcher at Tashkent’s Irrigation Institute and was elected to local political office, opportunities he would have been denied in the U.S.

But the elder Roane said later that he "hardly knew where the Soviet Union was when Golden came to my college to speak" and that that he didn't know "exactly what a communist was."

uzbekistans african american community. uzbekistan small group tours, uzbekistan history art craft tours
Left to right: Oliver Golden, his wife Bertha Beliak and daughter Yelena Khanga
Roane told Golden's granddaughter, Russian journalist and television personality Yelena Khanga, that he signed on with Golden because the Soviet foreign-trade agency hiring the workers "was offering better pay for a month than a lot of people would make in a year in the Depression."

"Secondly, I was young and I wanted to see the world. I thought this might be the only chance I'd ever get," Khanga quotes him as saying in her 1992 book about growing up as a black Russian-American.

Roane and his new bride, Sadie, decided to make a honeymoon out of the trip. The group of agriculture specialists arrived in Leningrad in November 1931 after a four-week journey and then traveled to Uzbekistan, where they found ramshackle housing and infrastructure.

But they received better wages and accommodation than the locals. "The Soviets did make extra overtures to them to make sure they were a little more comfortably housed than the average Uzbek," Carew says. This hospitality was evident when Sadie Roane gave birth to Yosif in Uzbekistan's capital, Tashkent, on December 4, 1931. "She had at least five nurses to help her take care of me," Yosif says. "She had all kinds of help, as if she was a celebrity."

Much of what Yosif recounts about the Roanes' life in Soviet Uzbekistan is based on hearsay because of his young age at the time. But he says that he remembers meeting other prominent African-Americans who visited the country. These include the famed performer and civil-rights activist Paul Robeson, who came under withering criticism at home for his vocal admiration for Stalin and the Soviet state. "Paul Robeson carried me around on his shoulders," Yosif says.

Watch a 2-minute clip of this fascinating story. [ If this clip does not appear on your device, please go directly to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B52bNZqTynA ] 

 Stay tuned for the 2nd part of this extraordinary slice of history.


Related posts:
Langston Hughes: An African American Writer in Central Asia in the 1930s
Remembering Muhammad Ali’s Visit To Uzbekistan
Sidney Jackson - An American Boxer in Uzbekistan

This article is republished with permission. Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.