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2019 †N1-2(166-167)
Mamed Mamedov (1938-1985) was a remarkable Turkmen painter, wise and whole-hearted artist, lyricist and romantic. He lived a glorious, yet short artistic life. His paintings and graphic works vividly recreated the events of the Turkmen fine art history, covering the period of 1960-1980s. Those years were the time of formation of outstanding individuals of Turkmen painting. Mamed Mamedov's name has since taken a rightful place among the most prominent Turkmen painters. Over the years, it gets more interesting to view, feel and appreciate in a new way his works that have become classics of Turkmen art.
Mamed Mamedov's world of art is not only realistically authentic but also unusually poetic. The painter skillfully uses all the techniques of drawing to build a form, express a character and convey a movement. His interest in psychological manifestations of the image, its symbolic perception, and simply his interest in telling a story, it all starts with a drawing as a basis of any image. The painter also pays great attention to solving a spatial task, not forgetting the importance of the rhythmic content of his works. The combination of rigor and dynamics determines the expressiveness of the painter's poetics. There is always a dynamic rhythm in his works even in static situations and motifs.
Mamed Mamedov initially was very much passionate about drawing from life. Painting a portrait or a landscape gave him great joy. His sketches, executed with love, look complete and pictorial for the most part. He worked a lot on portraits of common people and looked for appropriate characters. In the process of working on a traditional portrait, the painter remained faithful to the classic function of the genre, meaning a comprehensive exposure of a character and uniqueness of an individual. Such professionally mature and psychologically accurate sketches are, above all, of documentary importance.
He also painted nature, depicting sand and sky that absorbed dim light on a hot day, villages and roads among the sand dunes ("Sands in Karakum", "Sandy Dunes" (1963), "Karakum" (1971), "Karakum Channel near Ashgabat" (1982). He loved the dynamic structure of sand hills in the desert, the movement of their masses and changing patterns of color they created. Later, Mamed Mamedov painted sands in his thematic works as a full-fledged character that was not only a characteristic geographical feature but also a symbol of Motherland - Turkmenistan.
His works captivate viewers with their power and subtlety of feelings. In his sketches, he conveys many brief but accurate observations, as if they were caught on the fly. The acuteness of the artist's vision causes a reciprocal flow of emotions and impresses a viewer just as strikingly. Naturally, there is a great number of sketches testifying to the artist's sensitiveness.
His sketches are already fraught with the grain of the artistic image, but Mamed Mamedov almost never painted it through a simple repetition of magnification of these sketches. They serve only as the "guides" that induce and suggest the course of figurative thinking. And a painting itself is created from memory and imagination, in which keen vision merges with keen emotionality.
These qualities are inherent in Mamed Mamedov's best paintings that were exhibited at a solo exhibition of his works under the motto "From Plan to Embodiment", marking the 80th anniversary of the artist's birth. The exhibition took place at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Ashgabat. It was an event of great public importance. The exhibition presented a rare opportunity to look into the art lab of the realist master.
Mamed Mamedov's works are noted for their monumentality, which is characteristic of the heyday of social realism in painting of the last century. Already in his early works, he was clearly searching for the deep psychological generalization, strict harmony of plastic forms, as well as a laconic silhouette that can be seen in the works such as "Portrait of a Virgin Land-Tractor Driver" (1963), "Portrait of Composer Nury Khalmamedov" (1966), "Praying for Water" (1967), "Greif" (1969).
Mamed Mamedov painted a silhouette and its outlines as a spot in its most "pure" form. A color spot, with its spatial, shape-generating, decorative functions, with its emotional force of influence is one of the fundamental expressive elements of his painting. His silhouettes are well articulated, sometimes even tenderly light, but always acutely characteristic. They appear in his paintings and graphic works as either a plane or a depth or a neutral background or an active color. Particularly expressive is a silhouette of a man that Mamedov painted repeatedly in different works and different contexts. This is a worker, who stands firmly on his feet. He takes on building canals and seas with great enthusiasm ("The Sea will be", 1975), development of desert lands ("In the Central Karakum. Botanists", 1968, "Revival of the Ancient Land", 1981). Such paintings captivate viewers with their powerful romance of images.
Mamed Mamedov's heightened interest in a wide range of national themes and plots, his turning to national ethnographic motifs - costumes, patterns and colors - consistently led him to painting an exquisite, large inner culture. At the same time, in his many other works Mamed Mamedov used a quite different, subtle outline of a silhouette as well as a different psychological tonality that conveyed lyrical reflections and poetic insight. Such thematic paintings as "Toi" (1971), "Parting Wishes" (1980) show that Mamedov's works acquired freshness, impartiality and deep individual vision. They seem to speak about the eternal basics of life, beauty, strength, harmony of man with nature of his homeland.
Going along the path of self-perfection, giving up monumentalism and graphical expression of the pictorial language that he used earlier, the artist comes closer to the pictorial sounding of colors. In terms of the compositional and plastic essence, his works are inspired by the echoes of oriental miniatures. In his works, the painter tends to shift from the restrained sharpness of painting to more lively and rich color solutions.
Naturally, he did not forget about people, their customs and way of life. The idea that he can reflect in painting this vast and diverse real world filled Mamed Mamedov with delight and pride and instilled in him the highest understanding of the painter's mission. Mamed Mamedov always liked strong images, heroic events, even tragic and fateful situations in which the character's spiritual qualities are revealed with particular force and completeness.
Mamedov's characters have little in common with daily routine. The artist looks into the souls of people to reveal their ability to perform heroic acts. He sees and shows their spiritual wealth, fortitude, nobility and devotion to the idea. That is why Mamed Mamedov's works have unique expressiveness. Mamed Mamedov's artistic memory and sense of image are the key feature of his works. A feeling of an event creatively reproduced by the artist is always wider and deeper than the theme of genre scenes, such as a send-off to the battle fields of WWII or cheerful celebration of Victory Day ("Spring of 1945", 1984; "Victory. Spring of 1945", 1985). The memory of the war years associated with separation, expectation and hope brings him back to the world of his childhood, and this image is authentic and accurate. Despite all the authenticity of life situations, his paintings clearly reflect on the notions of universal significance such as joy and grief, birth and loss, fatherly integrity, female nobility and inspired work.
Artistically mastering and figuratively affirming the beauty of the world, seeing this beauty in people, in their actions, in the nature of the beloved Turkmen land, this all formed the painter's vision of the mission of art. It feels like many researchers will engage in an in-depth study of the great legacy of Mamed Mamedov, who brought a new breath to the art of Turkmen painting.

Altyndzhemal BAYLIEVA

©Turkmenistan Analytic magazine, 2005