Numerous students of the honored art worker of Turkmenistan, Amanmukhammed Khydyrov, succinctly refer to him as Aman-aga to express respect for the age and, most importantly, the skill and versatile talent of their mentor.
In the broadest sense of the term, teaching is one of the artist’s major callings in life and artistic career, including various forms of art. Amanmukhammed Khydyrov is known in Turkmenistan and abroad as the author of original wooden sculptures, commemorative medals and unique ornamental works. His close associates are well aware of the artist’s poetic talent and his gift as an herbalist.
Explaining such a wide range of artistic passions, the artist almost repeats Boris Pasternak’s lines, “I want to get to the very essence of everything I do, and I try to get to the roots, the foundation, the core of whatever I am passionate about.”
This “inquisitiveness” of Khydyrov’s works is fully appreciated, as dozens of his works are displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Ashgabat, museum collections in Moscow and private collections. In their studies, future artists, carpet masters, jewelers, architects and designers use his textbooks on the Turkmen carpet art.
The artist received many government awards for his works. His foreign colleagues also highly appreciated his technique of infinity that is graphically presented in numerous patterns of ornaments and scientific works. This recognition is evidenced by the title of Honorary Academician of the Academy of Arts of the Republic of Uzbekistan awarded to the Turkmen sculptor in 2017.
Amanmukhammed Khydyrov’s life path is not much different from that of his peers, who were born at the very beginning of the Great Patriotic War. He matured early in his childhood, having lost his father in the war in 1942. Amanmukhammed began to work when he was a schoolboy to help his family. After graduating from a secondary school, he tended sheep in the desert and worked in a collective farm for a year and a half.
The natural beauty of the ancient Murghab oasis (now Mary province), the work habit and his family contributed to his artistic vision of the world around. Since childhood, Amanmukhammed watched the works of his mother, a famous needlewoman, who created unique embroidery patterns. His father’s brothers skillfully handled wood and his grandfather, who looked after him, was a healer and a hunter. It was he who instilled in Amanmukhammed a love of nature, taught him to be well versed in medicinal plants. This is probably why the young man dreamed of becoming a doctor.
Only a truly gifted person can see the beauty of the surrounding world and capture it into a piece of art. “When I work with wood, I breathe in this unique aroma and immediately see the image. Wood itself suggests a plot,” the artist says.
The path to understanding the subtleties of this art began in 1962 at the Ashgabat Art School, and continued five years later at the famous Stroganov School in Moscow (now the Moscow State Stroganov Academy of Industrial and Applied Arts).
Students studied the artistic processing of wood, metal, plastic and other materials not only in classrooms but also in the workshops where they learned the technology of materials and their processing. This is how the educational process was originally designed by its founder, Sergei Grigorievich Stroganov, an archaeologist, philanthropist and statesman, focusing on the education of artists for the industrial production that emerged in the twenties of the last century.
Students also had a unique opportunity to plunge into related arts – architecture, painting, sculpture. Aman-aga recalls with gratitude his teachers, thanks to whom he mastered the laws of art and theory of the art infinity.
The young Turkmen artist enjoyed discovering theatrical and book Moscow, visited exhibitions. But most of the time he was seen at the State Museum of Oriental Art, where he studied the specific features of oriental ornamental art. He particularly got carried away by the history of carpet weaving, discovering common trends and mysterious signs that distinguish them in the intricate carpet patterns of different peoples. His scope of interests expanded gradually. Later, based on the materials of his research at the State Museum of Oriental Art, Khydyrov wrote several teaching aids.
In one of the teaching aids on the mysteries of the art world, the artist offers his own principle of work on a composition. Khydyrov’s method is about the “infinity of art.” He believes that the surrounding flora and fauna, even the world of household items and musical instruments can be translated into the language of ornament. This is how Turkmen carpets were made in ancient times. Nowadays, observations of the environment can inform the creation of original works of jewelry, carpet, design and architectural arts. For example, according to the artist, when he looks at a frog or a bird, he draws their outlines and movements into geometric shapes and turns them into an original ornament.
Masters of different nationalities and cultures work in the same technique with the same forms, but fill them with characteristic traditional elements. Variations of forms and elements in a harmonious proportional combination can be transformed indefinitely, the artist says.
In 1977, returning to Ashgabat, Khydyrov was keen on his theory and generously shared his discoveries with novice artists. At first, he taught at the art school of jewelry (art processing of metal). Then, he headed the Byashim Nurali children’s art school for more than sixteen years.
The artist continues working with young people, teaching at the Ashgabat Art School, sharing his views on the infinity of the creative process.
The artist puts his ideas into art works in his studio, where he spent most of his life. He worked with a variety of materials – gypsum, metal, ceramic, but he always drew genuine inspiration in wood, using a variety of species by color and hardness – ash, pine, apricot, walnut. “Even a felled tree is filled with life, and therefore it opens up great opportunities, helps to embody dear subjects and images of famous people, fellow artists,”Aman-aga said.
The wooden sculpture of Turkmen composer Nury Khalmamedov that the artist made in the shortest possible time is especially dear to him. In the branchy root of a felled tree, he immediately saw the look of an outstanding composer. Wooden compositions and sculptures on the theme of war based on his personal feelings are amazingly realistic, including “Waiting”, “Seeing off”, “Woman-Mother”, “Bride”. The themes of strength of the human body and spirit, music and poetry are always present in his works.
The ornamental paintings that recreate the images of Turkmen’s ancestor Oguz Khan and his sons, legendary Gerogly, great poet-thinker Magtymguly are perceived as an organic blending of traditional and avantgarde forms. They seem to be woven from original Gels (ornaments) created by the artist, awaiting their embodiment in the works by Turkmen carpet weavers.
In the artist’s studio, canvases coexist with a large-scale wooden panel depicting a rider on a heavenly Akhal-Teke horse, a symbol of independent neutral Turkmenistan’s aspiration for the heights of creation and progress.
Having mastered the art of making medals at the Stroganov School, Khydyrov paid tribute to this form of art by creating a number of interesting works of plaster, aluminum and bronze on the themes of sports, poetry and science. Separate medals are dedicated to friends and fellow artists Durdy Bayramov and Dzhuma Dzhumadurdy.
With unfeigned joy Aman-aga shows the first issue of “Karakum” magazine dated 2021 featuring a set of his poems. And these are not the first publications of his numerous poetic creations. “Just like wooden sculptures, verses are born spontaneously, conveying the feelings that possess me at one time or another,” the artist said.
Aman-aga considers his big and supportive family to be the real embodiment of the dream of happiness. His two sons became jewelers and two daughters graduated from the carpet department of the art school. They gave their father 17 wonderful grandchildren. Some of them are already showing interest in various forms of art and participate in exhibitions. And this means that life, just like art, is wonderful in its infinity.
Despite his venerable age, Amanmukhammed Khydyrov is full of creative energy. He regularly visits art exhibitions and contests. And now he works on wooden sculptures dedicated to spring and music in his art studio. And he also plans to participate in the exhibition-contest in honor of the 140th anniversary of Ashgabat, in whose beautiful appearance there is also a share of Aman-aga’s work.