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Javlon Umarbekov Reveals a Sense of Hopeful Diversity When We Need it Most

Dubai—Andakulova Gallery, one of Dubai’s most important spaces showcasing Central Asian art, presents a new exhibition by the revered Modernist Javlon Umarbekov. The exhibition surveys Umarbekov’s metamorphosis over the past four decades, tracing both the continuity and variation from his Uzbek roots against the growing specter of globalisation today. Born in 1946, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Umarbekov has become one of the leading figures of contemporary art in the country. His work has been exhibited all over the world in major collections and institutions, including at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and at the UN headquarters in New York. Today, the artist is interested in using art as a means of crossing thresholds between East and West, bridging cultural and even religious and political divides through his art.

The assemblage of works on display include Madonna and a Child (2010), a work that interrupts the centuries long tradition of Christian iconography by instead treating the subject in a colourful, Cubist style manner. Others like Harvest (2016) display a fondness and nostalgia for the artist’s working class roots. In it, farmers are shown carrying grain from a field, their stoic, solid, blocky figures evoking the heroic depictions of the working class under Socialist Realism, a style that was prevalent all across the former Soviet Union until its collapse in 1989. In 1991, the Republic of Uzbekistan formerly declared its independence from the Soviet Union, setting off a wave of research into its unique cultural history and heritage.

Through combining traditional Uzbek influences with radical developments made by avant-garde European Modernists, Umarbekov is rightly celebrated today as an artist unafraid of confronting cultural difference. Andakulova Gallery’s exquisite survey of Umarbekov’s latest paintings has shed new light on how artists from Central Asia have been shaking up the region.

The exhibition will be on view from December 6, 2017 through March 6, 2018 at Andakulova Gallery, Unit 18, P4 Level, Damac Park Towers, DIFC Dubai, United Arab Emirates.


Featured Image: Geometrical Shapes, 2009 , acrylic on canvas, 73 x 110 cm.

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