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Kazakhstan’s Hall of Fame
Kazakhstan Union of Artists
Anuarbek Nakisbekov, Erbolat Tolepbai, Magauiya Amanzholov, Olzhas SuleimenovThe role of the Union of Artists is invaluable in the formation and development of Kazakhstan art, especially in the early years. Despite the fact of difficulties, slowly step after step, by joining artists, Union provided required conditions for the development of art in the Republic of Kazakhstan, moreover increased its status in the society.

According to (CC UCP) Central Committee of United Communist Party (b) decision from 23rd April, 1932 «About redevelopment of literary-art organizations», creative unions began operating around the country. Artists Union was one of the first public organizations joining all the artists and art critics.

Yearly 1930th are known for its impartial circumstances in the formation of the creative artists’ organizations. In 1929, a group of Almaty artists understood the importance of commonwealth; therefore suggested to create Kazakhstan branch Association of Revolution Artists (ARA) «artists service and public education».

Officially Kazakhstan Soviet Union of Artists (KSUA or KUA) was created in 1933. In September 1933, all newspapers announced the existence of initiative group, aspiring to bond Almaty creative forces. Probably the formation of this group was in July, 1933:  «Artists summit will take place in «Kazakhstan Truth» building (Gogol st. corner of Fontanne st.) on September the 8th, 1933 at 5 pm. Professional artists, art teachers and art union members are invited to attend». Approximately four days after, on 12th September 1933, another advertisement appeared in the same newspaper under the «Izveshenie» column: «Artists summit will take place in «Kazakhstan Truth» building (Gogol st. corner of Fontanne st.) on 12th September 1933, at 5pm, regarding the issue of artist’s exhibition. Professional artists, art teachers and fans are all invited». And for the first time there is a signature at the end of the article: «Organizational bureau of the Kazakhstan Soviet Union of Artists». The exhibition mentioned in the above advertisement was successfully organized in less then a month. Advertisement appeared on 12th of September and exhibition started running on 4th of October. Newspapers had their own feedback on the advertisement: «For the 13th anniversary of Kazakhstan Independent Soviet Social Republic (ISSR), organizational committee of Soviet Kazakhstan Union of Artists will present their first ever exhibition «Kazakhstan Artists in the war against the socialistic development» in Almaty, October the 4th 1933. Main exhibition objectives are to reveal creative force, especially national and amateur; merging of the forces «on the platform of soviet forces and aspiration to participate in social development» (according to CC VCP (b) decision from 27th April, 1932); mobilization of the art-force in accomplishment of the targets set by the government. Initially, exhibition will cover art works of Almaty artists; furthermore, for the XVI anniversary of October it will expand to the rest of the country, covering all the Kazakhstan artists from the time of October revolution until present days. Exhibition will present equal amount of new art pieces as well as paintings collected from the museums and art organizations. Exhibition will be open on 4th October at 12pm in governmental library (Federation Park)». It was divided into two divisions – paintings and drawings. Among exhibiting artists: A. Ismailov, F. Bolkoev, A. Zotikov, H. Krutilnikov, N. Nikeshin, V. Olenev-Antoshenko, A. Rittih, N. Timofeyev, F. Chernishev and others. Therefore, in September, Organizational Bureau KUA started making its earliest steps. Young artist Aubakir Ismailov was appointed for the position of the first chairman; Ivan Savelev was appointed as the first secretary.

The first organizational period was from 1933 until 1937, when Organizational Bureau became a part of Kazakhstan National commissariat of education (KNC), which was sponsoring KUA. Nine thousand Russian rubles was provided in 1933; fifteen thousand in 1934, and same amount for the following year; and finally in 1936 - twenty five thousand Russian rubles. However, annual credits could not be used each year due to the introduction of limits by Kazakhstan KNC. As a result of limited funds KUA practically could not resume the organization of deliberate work. Initially, approximate number of Union members was fifteen: V. Olenev-Antoshenko, F. Bolkoev, A. Bortnikov, L. Gerbanovskiy, A. Zotikov, A. Ismailov, N. Krutilnikov, Z. Nazirov, A, Ponomarev, G. Simkin, I. Savelev, N. Soloviev, S. Stolyarov, A. Rittih, A. Chernishev. However the exact initial number of members is inconsistent. F. Bolkoev, for example, presented only ten members of the union and ten candidates in 1959.

On 27th April 1934, art pieces done by Kazakhstan artists arrived to Moscow. Exposition, invitations and poster in two colors were Aisha Galymbayeva, S. Mambeev, D.A. Kunayev, E. Sidorkin prepared in unbelievable short amount time. First Soviet Kazakhstan creative art exhibition was opened on 8th May in the Governmental Museum of Eastern cultures; it was organized due to special decision made by National commissars meeting of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Exhibition presented 180 art pieces (paintings, posters, drawings) from 22 Kazakhstan modern artists – N. Khludov, V. Olenev-Antoshenko, F. Bolkoev, O. Beloslyudova-Zhilinskaya, Burdanov, Sh. Guliyev, K. Grigoriyanc, I. Ivachev, A. Ismailov, V. Kapterev, Kapalkin, A. Prostev, L. Gerbanovskiy, A. Kateyev, Kashin, G. Kozlov, N. Krutilnikov, I. Savelev, S. Stolyarov, A Khaidarov, Kh. Khodzhikov, F. Chernishev. All art pieces were kindly provided by Organizational Bureau KSUA, Kazakhstan KNC, Central National Museum and other artists. There were around 50 people attending the exhibition, within them representatives of the Russian Soviet Federal Socialistic Republic (RSFSR) National Commissariat of Education, Kazakhstan representatives, Representatives of USICR (United society of international cultural relations), museum, scientific and art organizations. The opportunity to open an exhibition was given to vice president of KNC museum department, F. Kon. Unfortunately the exhibition was working for a short period of time what led to low amount of publicity and feedback.

In spring 1936, first Decade of Kazakhstan literature and art was held in Moscow. Art pieces were presented in the reception of Big Theatre in Moscow from 17th of May until 26th of June. Exposition was organized using paintings from Central Kazakhstan Museum, Institute of National Culture and other organizations. It included paintings, drawings, modern artists’ posters and pieces of national art – together more then 200 exponents. Among the participants – F. Bolkoev, A. Borotnikov, L. Gerbanovskiy, K. Grigoriyanc, A. Ismailov, V. Kapterev, A. Kasteyev, N. Krutilnikov, A Rittih, E. Tehmenev, Kh. Khodzhikov, N. Khludov.

The second period of organizational work is staring in 1937. So what is so different and specific about it? KUA left KNC and from January 1937 became a part of Management of Art Affairs; furthermore, changed its name to Organizational committee KSUA. Rounded stamp of Organizational Committee was used until 1940. Also financial situation improved. In 1937 and 1938 eighty thousand rubles were provided for Organizational Committee to cover expenses. (26) Candidate for the position of Chairman for Organizational Bureau was appointed by Management of Art Affairs. From 1933 until December 1936 the Chairman of KUA Kazakhstan SSR was artist F. Bolkoev, from 1937 some changes have been applied, dismissals, new appointments for the existing positions, reorganization etc… Nine candidates went through Chairman’s position; some of them were changed only after two-three months. I. Shvecov, for example, had been the Chairman of KSUA only for four days. It was the time for man power; most of them were not artists and sometimes were not even related to art.

First ever contract with artists, for the creation of art pieces, had been introduced in 1937. Organizational Committee UA together with Management of Art Affairs under Council of National Commissioners (CNC) Kazakhstan SSR was working on exhibition thematic plan, which was therefore introduced to artists. Furthermore, the contract had been prepared with artists for the chosen theme and for an agreed deadline.

First Kazakhstan national art exhibition commenced on 5th December 1937, in the building of Kazakhstan National Art Gallery, Almaty. That day was memorable not only for KSUA. 66 art works were demonstrated from 22 participated artists. That exhibition started a tradition of organizing annual exhibitions each year.

In the order No219 from 5th September 1937, Management of Art Affairs under CNC Kaz.SSR states about reorganization of KUA art course into regularly operating school of art from 1st September; furthermore about including art school in the list of educational organizations, under the system of Management of Art Affairs under CNC Kaz.SSR. (49) With an enormous effort, art school, or as it was still called art courses, continued operating in 1937-1938th, slowly preparing a foundation for the development of the first professional art institute.

First institute director was Iosif Shvecov, and after him Nikolai Alexeyevich. Initially art institute was situated under one roof with the Union of artists, and had been accommodated only in two rooms. The ability to provide institute with larger premises would be a problem for years.

Opening of the I Republic congress of Soviet Kazakhstan Artists was on 26th June 1940, in the House of Party Enlightment (Pushkin st.). Congress was running for 5 days and finished on 30th June. Initially congress was planned for June 12th, however the date was changed to 25th and then to 26th, due to the session in Kazakhstan Higher Council and CC UC Kazakhstan plenary session.

Art exhibition was organized at the beginning of the congress. On 27th April 1940, KUA announced, that exhibition is not thematic and artists are allowed to present any work pieces of their choice, without examination and selection. According to presented art-pieces, artist’s memberships in KUA were approved. Exhibition was intended to be examined by Moscow committee and by delegates of neighboring republics. Apart from Almaty artists nine Chimkent artists presented their work at the exhibition, also three artists from Aktyubinsk, five from Semipalatinsk, five from Karaganda and three from Uralsk.

Until 1940, KUA chairman position had to be appointed. However, new regime had been applied after First Congress of Kazakhstan artists, where the chairman had to be chosen through voting.

A list of fifty four artists had been presented in Moscow by Kazakhstan Union of Artists, in order to get the approval for their memberships. According to protocol No20 from above mentioned session, eighteen people had been confirmed as members of SKUA, twenty three as candidates, five people were rejected due to the low professional level and eight people were still under consideration (due to the lack of work places). After the First congress confirmation of membership had to be done through USSR UA (USSR Union of Artists). According to USSR Organizational Committee Protocol, from 10th October 1940, Kazakhstan UA had been concluded and accepted by the congress. Regulations had to be applied to all accepted members and candidates.

Художники - С.Мамбеев, У.Ажиев, К.Тельжанов, А.Галымбаева, Т.Досмагамбетов, Е.Толепбай, З.Тусипова, С.Романов, Б.Заурбекова, Президент РК Н.А.НазарбаевDuring the summer of 1940, USSR UA Organizational Committee was planning to organize movable exhibition through all Soviet Union cities, presenting art works of artists from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan Republics. Seventeen artists with forty two art-pieces were exhibiting from Kazakhstan. New catalogue had been issued with V. Chepelev’s and B. Veimarn’s articles. Initially exhibition was opened in Moscow; however it was impossible to continue planned tour through all the cities. The War has begun.

From the first days of the war, management of Soviet Kazakhstan Artists had a serious issue about redevelopment of organizational activities during the wartime, also to find out how can artists contribute to the Victory.

According to historical experience, by using already established Russian and soviet art traditions, KUA proposed main theme to issue posters and other creative technique of political propaganda and agitation. All union members and candidates to be mobilized for the development of above mentioned tasks.

In September 1941 first wartime exhibition was organized in Kazakhstan Central Museum, Almaty. The exhibition combined fifteen artists presenting their work on the theme «Defense».

By the end of 1942, KUA team had been doubled due to number of evacuated artists.

In June 1943, in the school No28, another exhibition was organized: «Great Patriotic War». 69 artists were exhibiting 696 art works apart from AGIT-OKON, posters and drawings from press. There were nine sections: «Great Patriotic War», «Heroic past of our Homeland», «Kazakhstan Industry», «Agricultural industry», «Our Homeland», «Cinema and Theatre Artists», «Children thematic corner», «AGIT-OKNA», «Posters and drawings from press».

In February 1945 in the reception of «Alma-Ata» cinema (situated in the park of 28 Panfilov’s) another exhibition was organized by four artists- front-liner soldiers: B. Chekalin, S. Stolyarov, V. Kiyasov, K. Baranov. Exposition included – front line sketches and drawings.

During KUA Management Session, from 13th March 1945, new Union leaders had been appointed: Chairman – M. Belov, Vice president in creative issues – honored art figure of RSFSR B. Dubrovskiy-Eshke, vice president in social issues – Z. Nazirov.

In honor of Victory, United Soviet Countries Art Exhibition was organized in October 1945, in Moscow. M. Belov, G. Brilov, R. Velikanova, A. Kasteyev, A. Martova, Z. Nazirov, B. Urmanche, K. Khodzhikov, A. Cherkasskiy were representing Kazakhstan art.

«Kazakhstan’s 25th anniversary» was the first after war art exhibition. It was organized at the end of 1945 in the artist’s union gallery.

In April 1946, small group of artists: (A. Kasteyev, Ya. Kuchis, B. Urmanche) participated in United Soviet Countries exhibition in Tretekov’s Gallery, Moscow. However the most memorable Kazakhstan cultural event of 1940th was Dzhambul Dzhabayev’s anniversary, dedicated to his 100s birthday.  And Union of Artists was not left aside.

Kazakhstan artist’s annual exhibition was running in Kazakh Governmental academic theatre of opera and ballet in January, 1951. 89 artists from 8 regions participated in that exhibition. It was the first time when media noticed increase in the number of artists in the union, specifying the appearance of large group of talented young adults – A. Galimbayeva, N. Tansikbayev, K. Telzhanov, Kh. Naurzbayev, S. Mambeyev, N. Nurmukhamedov, U. Azhiev, A. Moldabekov. Also it was mentioned in other press: «Just in the past two-three years creative union of artists accepted twenty successful and talented young Kazakh artists».

Another annual exhibition presenting art works from successful Kazakhstan artists was organized in Art Academy, Moscow, on 13th December 1958. Introductory word was given to A. Kanapin, Minister of Culture Kaz.SSR. The same day, in the gallery of Moscow Union of Artists another exhibition had been opened; presenting national-applied art. Speeches were done by Kaz.SSR vice Minister of Culture D. Ismagulov, Management Secretary UA SSR A. Saltikov and member of Ministry of Culture USSR A. Lebedev.
Overall, Kazakhstan literature and art Decade in Moscow was completed on the highest level, it was widely approved by specialists and motivated Kazakhstan Artists. Convincing speech was done by Art expert G. Sarikulova: «Artists with higher degree in art arrived to the state in 50th, and already advertised themselves as highly original and extraordinary artists during the Kazakhstan literature-art Decade. Everyone started talking about us, and we were on the same level».

VI Congress of Kazakhstan Union of Artists was running from 19th-21st February 1962 in Assembly hall of Kazakhstan State University.

Kazakhstan Fund (KF) of Kazakh SSR is one of the most important parts in the structure of Union of Artists. It is an organization that performs socially-financial activities under the control of KUA Board management and USSR Art Fund. Everyday creative-productive and social-financial work was controlled by the Fund’s management Board, which was appointed by the board of KUA.

VII Congress of Kazakhstan Artists was running from 23rd -25th March 1965 in the local House of Part-Enlightment.

On 24th January 1968, VIII Congress of Kazakhstan Artists was organized in «Kurmangazy» conservatory concert hall.

Art expert E. Vandrovskaya in her article «It is time for search and actions» stated that, congress is running as a retrospective exhibition, covering both floors of the gallery. However during this exhibition, organizers decided to present not only art works done in the past. Exhibition allowed visitors to talk about nowadays problems covering all the wins and looses; and not only to follow the half a century way of republic art.

Largest exhibition of 1970th- 1972nd was dedicated to «50th Birthday of Soviet Kazakhstan». It was running from 20th August- 23rd November (1970) in the «Shevchenko» Kazakhstan Art State Gallery. More then 260 artists participated from most of the regions; what made it for real interesting performance of the creative forces.

M. Kisamedinov, E. Mergenov, R. Rahmanova, Tabiyev, T. Dosmagambetov organized an exhibition in 1976, in Moscow. Extraordinary case, when five young artists decided to inform everyone about their existence and talent. 14th September 1976, discussion had been done in front of Esinalieyv, vice president of cultural department CC UCP, regarding the future exhibition on the KUA Presidium. Every artist had an opportunity to give a speech. E. Mergenov formulated a philosophy of each artist looking for truth: «I think that artist should present the meaning of the phenomenon and look for inside sense of relationship». M. Kisamedinov explained everyone principle of the group bond: «Surnames were chosen not purposely, because all of us are very close spiritually. All of us studied in Moscow».

Anniversary X Congress of Kazakhstan Union of Artists was in 1977, running from 23rd-24th February in the Parliament House. All 233 members of KUA were invited to attend the Congress.

Another Ninth Republic Exhibition of youngsters art «Zhiger» was running from 17th April- 17th May 1980, in the Exhibitions Hall of KUA. That exhibition demonstrated that «It was a new generation of art, generation of artists not just under 35 year olds, but with clear ideas of new attitudes, new ideally creative tendencies presented in the modern art pieces». There were 158 artists from 12 regions: M. Amanzholov, A. Akhatbakiyev, G. Bayanov, A. Bakhtigaliyev, A. Bolyukh, N. Bube, D. Zulfukarov, A. Kazgulov, K. Kakimov, L. Kalimova, S. Kim, A. Nakisbekov, M. Narimbetov, S. Maslov, M. Rapoport, A. Rorokin, E. Tulepbayev, Z. Tusipova, G. Shorohov, and others.

In April 1985, another festival «Zhiger» had been organized in Moscow, dedicated to 40th anniversary of Great Victory and Twelve’s World festival for youngsters and students.

In March 1986 another reappointment of positions in the head of KUA had been made. Amen Khaidarov had been chosen to be new Chairman and new secretary – Vasiliy Vasilyevich.

The preparation for XII Congress began long time before its start. It had been the first time for Congress to be done in public. Hundred nineteen artists were invited to attend. Member’s registration was running from 24th- 26th November. KUA Board of Management organized a plenum regarding the congress, management annual reports and auditing commission.

XII Congress of Kazakhstan Union of Artists was running from 27th – 28th November 1987, in the Hall of Kaz.SSR Supreme session.souz_3

In 1990th Kazakhstan Union of Artists went through a couple of problems. How should Kazakhstan Union of Artists be? In order to find some new organizational structures AD KUA (Almaty department KUA) and Association of plastic arts had been introduced. New political, social and economical situation brought new questions that should be urgently taken care of: should the management institute be under UA, about the structure of UA and AC (Art Council), about new UA Charter, about UA and AC capital inventory etc… But those questions were resolved only in the new era – era of Independent Kazakhstan.

Union of Artists in Independent Republic of Kazakhstan continues to perform its mission, which is, continued growth in the culture and art.

During the independent years there were XIV, XV and XVI UA Congresses. Chairmen appointed: E. Mergenov (XII Congress, 1987- 1993), T. Dosmagambetov (XIII Plenum, 1933- 19995), S. Mambeyev (XIII Congress, 1995- 1997), E. Mergenov (XIV Congress, 1998), E. Mergenov (XV Congress, 2004). On the last XVI Congress B. Umarbekov had been appointed for new Chairman’s position.

Kazakhstan Union of Artists is a member of International Conference of Artist Unions (CIS countries) and also a member of International Association of Artists under UNESCO.