“The Seven” of Turkmen artists: the view a half a century later

“The Seven” of Turkmen artists: the view a half a century later

A half a century ago, the informal group “Semerka” (The Seven) that was active between 1971 and 1987 was made up by Turkmen artists. The group members were Shammuhamed Akmuhammedov – stage designer, film artist, painter, actor, publicist; Durdy Bayramov – painter, graphic artist; Stanislav Babikov – painter, graphic artist, publicist, stage designer; Kulnazar Bekmuradov – film artist, painter, graphic artist; Chary Amangeldyev – painter, graphic artist and Juma Jumadurdy – sculptor.

Each in the group was a diverse-talented creative person, while gathered together they made up the recognizable vivid image associated with the concept of “Turkmen national school of painting”.

The great influence on this new concept formation was Izzat Klychev’s work who created cardinally different plastics of the pictorial motive and stylistic techniques embodied in his painting series “My Turkmenia”.

The artists of “The Seven” group continued the creative approach of outstanding master, combining the language of postmodernism with the methods of folk arts and crafts. Their work, which largely determined the future development of national art, promoted the prestige of the Turkmen school at the all-Union and international levels.

Klychev’s great popularity opened the way for them, and in 1971, the State Museum of the East in Moscow hosted the exhibition entitled “On the Land of Turkmenia”, after which “The Seven” enjoyed resounding success and became well-known.

Most of the exhibition participants – graduates of creative universities in Moscow and Leningrad – were already familiar to the Moscow audience. Since the mid-1960s, they were active in the exhibition life of Turkmenistan; their canvases largely determined the success of the expositions of the republican departments at the all-Union exhibitions in 1967 and 1969.

While at the exhibition held in 1971, for the first time, they performed as informal creative community, representing a new stage in the development of the Turkmen fine arts, expressed in the deepening of its ideological and imaginative tasks and improving skills. As Russian art critics wrote, “it was a bright expressive art that delighted the public and fellow workers ….”

Residents of Moscow praised the exhibitions of “The Seven”, and, perhaps, if some of artists had decided to move to Moscow or St. Petersburg, he then would become internationally known. However, none of them has never been serious about leaving Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, as it was a home for their souls, it was a Motherland, it was a place of those elusive nuances woven by the “white sun of the desert” that generously nourished their creativity.

It was then, at the 1971 vernissage, when the group was regarded as “The Seven” to make the history of world art. The name of the community is a reference to the famous American film “The Magnificent Seven”, one of box-office hit of the 1960s. “The Seven” was the first-ever, perhaps the only, group of artists from Central Asia in the 1970s, as well as one of the few informal art groups in the USSR at that time.

In 1986, the Central House of Artists in Moscow hosted the last exhibition of the group entitled the same as the first one, “On the Land of Turkmenia”. In 2009, the retrospective exhibition of “The Seven” was held at the State Museum of Fine Arts of Turkmenistan. And in 2014, the State Museum of Oriental Art featured the first retrospective exhibition of Turkmen fine art “Melodies of the Turkmen soul” for the last more than forty years, which comprised of the paintings of Izzat Klychev and “The Seven”.

Aleksandr Sedov, Director General of the State Museum of Oriental Art, Doctor of Historical Sciences, one of renowned Russian specialists in the field of ancient history, archeology and numismatics of the countries of the Near and Middle East, Central Asia, wrote in the catalog: “This is not the first time that the State Museum of Oriental Art hosts the fine arts of Turkmenistan. In the now distant 1971, the exhibition “On the Land of Turkmenia”, which became a noticeable event in the cultural life in both Moscow and the whole country, was successfully held in the halls of the museum,. And now, more than forty years later, we had the honor to rediscover the works by artists from independent Turkmenistan to Moscow connoisseurs of the fine work.”

Retrospective exhibitions of “The Seven” in Turkmenistan and Russia have proved the obvious cultural and artistic value of this informal group. If to draw a parallel between Russian and Turkmen culture, then the magnificent “The Seven” of Turkmen artists can probably be compared with The Mighty Handful, a creative community of prominent Russian composers who worked together in St. Petersburg in the late 1850s and early 1860s to create a distinct national style of classical music, or Peredvizhniki, (The Wanderers or The Itinerants), a group of Russian painters, which was formed in the last third of the 19th century and existed until 1923. Like the members of these creative associations, the names of artists of “The Seven” are closely associated with glory of the Turkmen fine arts in one of the brightest periods in the history of national painting.