The solo exhibition of the original work of Kyrgyz artist Yuristanbek Shygaev at Andakulova Gallery, Dubai, can best be described in the words of Chingiz Aitmatov, the most famous contemporary author of Kyrgyzstan: “Under the brush of this master, Kyrgyz myths and legends achieve the greatness of true art…”
Indeed, a deep and serious interest in the old folk tales and epics of the Kyrgyz people has become the basis of Shygaev’s creativity, since this is where he reveals his wide understanding and deep philosophy of ancient nomad tribes. Shygaev won an art degree at the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts. He began his career as an artist during difficult times of the historical transformations of society at the end of 1980s.
In the 1990s, he tried to find his way in the art world in the context of the creative freedoms then set loose and the resulting rise of national consciousness in the independent Republic of Kyrgyzstan.
The young artist was seeking ways and ideas that would serve as an alternative to the art of the past. His main source of inspiration was the heritage and traditions of his own national culture. Diving into sub-conscious memories of his ancestors, he went on to discover truly inspiring existential pillars. Jung's concepts of archetypes, as is known, are not only the foundations for comprehending the idea of traditional consciousness, but also provide a contemporary raison d’etre. They gave Shygaev's researches a philosophical support and relevance.
As the traditional experiences of nomads – transformed into mythology over the ages - was being gradually destroyed by sedentary lifestyles, they turned into ‘stumbling blocks’ which in turn, barely translated into the professional art canon.
Shygaev started developing his own style by studying traditions of Turkic nomads and grasping the lifestyles and ways of ancient thinking. However, during his artistic experiments, he discovered an astonishing “modernity” in the techniques of the nomadic archaic; so he began a dialogue with his ancient culture, based on his own experience of modernism.
A new approach of expressing Kyrgyz traditions can be found in many of his scrolls: “Manas”, “Name”, “A Shallop of Time” and “Migration”, to name a few. They represent, in a refreshing way, the current national culture - today the most powerful source of bold experiments and fresh associations, On the artist's monumental scrolls mysterious signs transform into the moon and the sun; they are scattered like stars within the infinite space, as perceived by nomads. Shygaev's artworks translate an artist's thoughts about the modern world and the fragility of its harmony through myths.
Observing his art, the words of the great sophist Immanuel Kant come to mind: “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me”.
Shygaev's solo exhibition at Andakulova Gallery, Dubai, will not follow the traditional framed canvases display. Instead, the visitors will be encouraged to explore colorful monumental scrolls that demonstrate not only the quick hand and poetic soul of the ancient nomad, but also the amazing craftsmanship of the artist-experimenter who created his own "encyclopedia" of semi-abstract signs. These signs are strikingly close to the original archaic ones. However, Shygaev does not repeat or pastiche them. He extracts the most important part – the ability of the ancients to express their connection to the world with meaningful concepts.
Yuristanbek Shygaev is an iconic figure of Kyrgyzstan’s contemporary art scene. Besides his own creative work as an artist, he has been a Director of the State Museum of Fine Arts named after G. Aitieva in Bishkek, Republic of Kyrgzystan, for many years. He has successfully represented the art scene of his Republic in many museums and art galleries worldwide.
He has been awarded with many titles and prizes, such as Honored Worker of Culture of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan; Professor; Laureate (1st prize) of the “Asia-Art” Biennale (Tashkent, 1997); Gold Medal of the 9th Asian Biennale in Dhaka (Bangladesh); Laureate of the “Lifetime Recognition” International Award; Laureate of the State Prize named after Toktogul and Honored Member of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts (Moscow).