Solo exhibition of Kuanysh Bazargaliev
Esentai Gallery (within ARTBAT FEST 7, Almaty)
The personal exhibition of Kuanysh Bazargaliyev is a collection of works created in the last few years, united by the reflections on Kazakhstan and, to no less extent, its place in the world community. Naturally, the artist is far from the plainspoken thirst for recognition of the country, which is characteristic of the state projects. Unlike the artless official state designs, which implement the principles of mechanical stamping of the "national" decor on the objects of expensive Olympic Games and Universiades, EXPO and luxurious international forums, he reflects on the structural interactions within the processes of establishing parity relations with the world.
In his earliest series "When all the people were Kazakh" (2013), the artist studies the nature of the adaptation of the European painting form by a non-European artistic system and cultural environment. As a man of a peculiar sense of humor and a solid artistic position – which allowed him to hold out in the difficult conditions of the Kazakhstan postmodernism – he created a quadlibet series, a history of world painting evolved in the Kazakh way. In fact, the only actual artistic painting throughout the series may be the brushstrokes on prints that delineate Napoleon's epicanthus or the kipsheki on the heads of Malevich's peasant women. Appropriated in this way, the world's masterpiece is inserted into a fake frame, the painted imitation. The grandiose turncoat series deliberates on the circulation of cultural processes, expansion of globalism, cultural networking, production of exhibitions and art which belongs to everyone and anyone.
The artist uses an even more complicated structuring in the seemingly simple compositions of "Koshkarmuyizms" (2016). The series of nine works represents images of various cultural, religious and political symbols superimposed over the most typical element of the Kazakh ornament, which is, in turn, placed on the background that is semantically related to the symbol of the world civilization. The compositions are based on the positive-negative principle of the Kazakh ornament, in which the relatively equal proportion of the background and the pattern is often characterized as the symmetry of opposites. The imposition of the symbol of another civilization doubles this effect and creates a new, rather tense structure every time. The dominance of koshkar muyiz by means of repetition in each of the nine compositions is a sign of Kazakhstan, whose territory, like the well-known test site, was the testing ground for various ideologies, influences and experiments.
Koshkar muyiz as a sign of Kazakhstan is also a basic structural element in the series "When all the flags were Kazakh" (2015-2016). This, too, is a kind of turncoat that translates the idea of opening a country to the world and the world to the country. It is important for the artist that Kazakhstan should be known in the world, but of no less importance is the feedback, which includes not only geographic, but also political, historical, cultural and ideological concepts. Thus, he deems it appropriate to place the ornament on the rainbow flag.
The land reform, which stirred up Kazakhstan at the beginning of this summer, exacerbated the "Chinese question." The reflection on the global expansion resolved in the series "Union of Chinese Capitalist Republics" (2016), in which the artist also plays with the main symbol of the state – the national flag. Chinatowns and Chinese goods have overwhelmed Italy, Japan, Germany, Russia. The absence of the Kazakh flag in the series says a lot about our country – it is a known fact that the use of state symbols in Kazakhstan is heavily regulated.
The installation of the works is site-specific, that is, the artist locates the flags-modules with regards to the conditions of the exhibition spaces. Sometimes they are hanged by themselves, as it happened recently at the Manifesto in Zurich, but more often they are put up in frames. The grandiosity of the constructed iconostasis and the overall scope cause a direct association with the title of the novel by Evelyn Waugh “Put out more flags.”
The epigraph to the novel, taken by the writer "from an ancient Chinese (oh, the irony of history! - V.I.) sage," may well be read as a dedication to the artist Kuanysh Bazargaliev, quite a Renaissant personality:
“A man getting drunk at a farewell party should strike a musical tone, in order to strengthen his spirit… and a drunk military man should order gallons and put out more flags in order to increase his military splendor.”
Valeria Ibraeva, curator (Kazakhstan).