AND FINGERS ARE YEARNING FOR THE QUILL, AND THE QUILL IS YEARNING FOR WRITING
Honored Artist of Turkmenistan Dovletgeldy Akyev turned 50 this year. By tradition, the painter celebrated the jubilee with a solo exhibition at the Ashgabat Exhibition Center of the Union of Artists of Turkmenistan.
About 100 graphic works of different years were presented to colleagues and admirers of his talent, all reflecting the originality and uniqueness of the painter’s creative style, the breadth of his thematic preferences. At the same time, this reporting exhibition was not as much the summary of recent works by the master of graphic art as the demonstration of his great potential.
Dovletgeldy Akyev was born on April 22, 1972, in Turkmenkala district of Mary province, in a small village that now bears the name of the Turkmen classic poet, Seyitnazar Seydi. The life of the Akyev family was no different from the way of life of fellow villagers. Father Dzhumaklych worked as a tractor operator in a collective farm, mother Gozel looked after the house.
Already at school, the young man displayed a special talent for copying illustrations from textbooks. His classmates used to say that his pictures turned out even better than the original ones. Having decided to become an artist, Dovlet, being a senior high school student, attended a fine arts society that opened at the local music school. In 1988, he entered the Turkmen State Art School.
After his military service, Dovlet successfully passed the entrance exams to the State Academy of Arts. His talent for graphic design led him to the department of book graphics that became one of the main areas of his work. It was already at that time that he fully understood the uniqueness of artistic merits of illustration as a distinct form of visual arts.
Dovlet Akyev speaks with great warmth of his teachers from the Academy – famous masters Annamammed Khodzhaniyazov, Khally Annacharyev, Alexey Kinyakin. In 2000, immediately after graduating from the Academy, certified painter Dovlet Akyev was invited to the children’s magazine “Gunesh” where he still works today. The books designed by Akyev include the famous work by Chingiz Aytmatov “White Steamboat”, the writer’s stories translated into the Turkmen language, as well as various fiction and historical literature.
The painting called “Gek Beri” (Sacred Wolf) is considered his “business card” that won the painter the genuine success and made his works recognizable. It was this canvas that was highly appreciated by specialists at international exhibitions.
Dovlet Akyev takes special responsibility for children book illustrations, rightly believing that book graphics help young readers to understand the text more fully and deeply and provide knowledge about the world around them. “It is very often that an illustration becomes the first work of art that appears in a child’s life. It is the beginning of children’s comprehension of other types of visual arts. So, book illustrations help to develop aesthetic feelings in children, form an artistic taste, expand children’s scope of imagination and creativity,” the painter notes.
Dovlet Akyev gradually created graphic multi-figured and multi-detailed compositions, depicting heroic personalities, outstanding commanders of Turkmen history and literature. Oguzhan and his sons, Gerogly, Jalalletdin, Genghis Khan, Deli Domrul, Genibek, Mollanepes and many other famous personalities were creatively interpreted by the Turkmen graphic painter. By using dots, spots, strokes and lines, he created panoramas of famous historical battles. A pen and ink and rich imagination invariably remained the painter’s main tools.
Dovlet Akyev gravitates toward large canvases. The size of many of them goes beyond the traditional understanding of graphic works. The size of his largest works is 120x180 centimeters. The painter considers the painting “Battle of Dandanakan” his great success, as it arouses considerable interest both among professionals and those art viewers that are inexperienced in graphic arts. The painting was made in the period from 2017 to 2022. The graphic painter turned to the plot of painting twice. In the first version, the size of the canvas was 70x50 cm. Then, the dimensions were increased to 120x180 cm, and the number of characters increased significantly. The information sheet attached to the painting says that it depicts 1410 soldiers on the battlefield, as well as 802 horses, 23 elephants, 18 camels, 5 Alabay dogs and 2 bulls.
The painting on a three-meter canvas dedicated to the Great Silk Road depicts a caravan that moves not along sand dunes but a flat line, as if along a modern highway – a detail that allows viewers to connect reality and fiction. Each illustration combines a message, a fairy tale and a real story.
One of the painter’s favorite paintings – “The Tree of Happiness” – depicts a branchy apple tree, on which children are painted instead of the usual fruits, in which every single image is unique and endowed with its own character and certain actions - movements.
The paintings of the universe are emphatically symbolic. They are literally saturated with philosophical details that are significant for Eastern art.
Dovlet Akyev’s illustrations also feature many animals endowed with symbolic overtones by the artist’s imagination, and they are invariably depicted in motion. For example, such are his cat philosophers, fabulous fish and birds, the graceful dog Tazy, incredibly long-legged camels marching through the desert, Akhal-Teke horses soaring up towards the sky.
Female images are a special theme in Dovlet Akyev’s paintings. This is a mother woman, dancing girls, historical figures, Amazons ... However, all of them are emphatically fabulous and, at the same time, realistic, modern and national.
The range of the painter’s preferences is unusually large. There are numerous illustrations along with large-scale canvases in the artistic workshop of the graphic painter. “Sometimes there are 40–50 drawings per book, in which it is important to convey the plot of the story, because an illustration is a guide to the world of books. It not only decorates a literary work, but also helps to better understand its plot, strengthens the textual impact, reveals the meaning of images, showing them emotionally and convincingly,” the painter notes.
His bright, original talent for graphics, recognizable original manner of artistic worldview, became apparent already in 2001, following his participation in the first large exhibition, where Dovlet Akyev presented 10 of his works. Then, there followed various exhibitions, including those outside the country, and the painter’s works were always highly appreciated. In 2013, Dovlet Akyev presented his paintings at an international exhibition in Azerbaijan, where they aroused great interest among professionals. In 2020, he took part in the online international contest “Turan” among artists from Turkic-speaking countries, which was held in Kazakhstan, and became the laureate of this art event.
Dovlet Akyev generously shares his skills with young painters – students of the State Academy of Arts of Turkmenistan, where he teaches composition at the graphics department. His children are among the students of the “alma mater”. His son went in the footsteps of his father. He also chose graphics, while the painter’s daughter prefers easel painting. In collaboration with painter Vepa Amangeldiyev, Akyev published four textbooks on drawing for the first-year students.
Dovlet Akyev’s worthy contribution to the Turkmen culture is highly appreciated. He is a three-time winner (2005, 2008, 2010) of the art contest of the President of Turkmenistan “T"urkmenin Altyn asyry” (Golden Age of Turkmens). In 2012, Akyev was awarded the title of the Honored Artist of Turkmenistan.
The collection of works by the talented graphic painter can make up a museum collection in terms of their quantity, professional execution and genre diversity. The works by Dovlet Akyev can be found in private galleries in Cyprus, Turkey, Belgium and England.
The painter has an idea, which, according to him, he has been nurturing for a long time. He wants to illustrate the works by Magtymguly Fragi. “The desire is great, but I am consciously afraid to start this work,” Dovlet says. “After all, philosophical views and the degree of classic poetry are so high that they should find adequate expression in illustration.”