Carefully Measured Randomness

Autor art-project: 
Azat Tabiev
Autor of text: 

Every word has its own depth and meaning in the polished phrase, placed as a title for an article. This phrase, formulated by Azat Tabiev, can be serve as an epigraph to his creations and at the same time, it can be a key to understand his paintings. That is not easy, by the way.

Azat is not the boisterous painter. And he exhibits his works not too often. The subjects of his paintings are not heroic at all: it can be a corner of the workshop, open road, and even a head of garlic or a can of condensed milk. Some people turn creativity to a routine - Tabiev does exactly the opposite. He carefully looks at the reality that unwittingly "tells" the story of the paintings. He insistently repeats some of them, looking for more accurate intonation. After that, as if he forgot about the findings, he dramatically changes the subject, style and manner of painting.

Turning to the ordinary things, he puts them in a different, purely pictorial dimension, gives them a right to their own isolated life, free from utilitarian purposes. Shift of emphasis and meanings is due to the special compositional techniques: things come into unusual interaction with each other, changing the conventional scales or being lost in the environment. Matter and space engage in their mysterious dialogue. 

This can be compared with viewing of an object through a huge magnifying glass. The garlic in this interpretation is a philosophical object. Hypertrophied radish or carrot is transformed into an almost animate monstrous creature. Huge jar with cucumbers on the windowsill menacingly dominates the tiny little men by the window frame with its realistic credibility. This game with the objects reveals their special relationship with reality, recalling moments of the theatre of absurd.

Intentional composite construction, hidden relationships of objects are complemented with the diverse colouristic techniques. No doubt, colour is the main tool of Azat Tabiev. The basic principles of his paintings are searching of spot-form relations, close attention to the lighting, use of the drawing light techniques, concentration on reflexes and his favourite technique of contre-jour. These methods achieve the goal regardless of whether or not he applies a combination of local colours in a picture or works on the subtle nuances of semitones. It makes sense to talk about the presence of colour-plastic integrity in the Tabiev’s paintings.

Blurred outlines of objects and dissolving them in space, combination of solidly worked and barely identified fragments of the canvas create a feeling of incompleteness and understatement. The non-finite method, consciously applied by the author, reveals the variety of stylistic features, giving a picturesque reality of Azat the special unique sound. Therefore, the question of "what the artist wanted to say", in fact, is often open. The author, as a matter of principle, does not want the unambiguous interpretation, moving away from the final conclusions, giving opportunity for the viewers imagination.

The artist teetering on the fine line between sophistication of the colouristic painting and simplicity of everyday scene. Combining the high (shape) and the low (story), the artist thus enters into the picture barely noticeable, homoeopathic dose of paradox, detachment, self-irony, insuring against the indistinct pathos of the pure form creation and details of the dull realism.

He loves to paint still life. Bottles, garlic, fish, outlines of which are dissolved, simplified, sometimes reduced to signs, are repeated constantly. A model of some parallel reality, familiar, but transfigured one, appears in Tabiev’s painting. His works often show the picture of glass and mirrors, which conventionally divide the world into two components - reality and its reflection-refraction. What is it, but a subconscious desire to see the world modified, feel sensations simultaneously here and on the "other side" - two different states, separated only by a thin glass wall?

Sometimes author cleverly withdraws himself and looks at the world through the eyes of the painting’s character: a car driver hung in a hopeless traffic jam; a baby, suddenly decided to drag the glowing aquarium to another (cozier? safe?) place in the night; a boy, fleeing from the boring world with a colour shard of glass. Generally, the children are frequent characters in his paintings. Their uncomplicated inner freedom and purity relate them to the picturesque ideals of Tabiev.

Azat manages to catch the elusive things. For example, in the picture He was told where babies come from, the shock of the child's consciousness, receiving a shocking display of the adult life is fixed via the image of the protagonist, who instantly became mature.

Working on the portraits, Azat often does not finalize faces or detail the shapes, he tends to create expressive emotional equivalent to identify the purely pictorial interpretation of a model. In "Self Portrait", a witty ironic observation of the owners of iPhones is presented - an irresistible desire to self shoot a reflection in the mirror.

Persistently moving to himself in the works, Azat does not seriously camouflage stylistic similarities with the great masters of the past, demonstrating the capricious selectivity. His still life has something in common with the metaphysics of Morandi; Bonnard and Matisse are flashing in the colour of the interiors; strong expression in the portraits appeals to experiments of fauvism followers. In general, he is interested in the era of French modernism as of early twentieth century, appreciated also by the Kazakhstan artists of the sixties. Among them -a unique colourist Bakhtiar Tabiev, who had a major impact on the formation of Azat-painter and could manage to give his son a taste for colours and to grow his natural talent. Azat Tabiev seeks to develop the impulse, gained in the inheritance, and to fill it with new sounds.

Freedom of perception merges with the observation, the desire to experiment with colour interacts with the compositional effects - all terms of creativity give rise to a picturesque reality of Azat Tabiev, whose main goal is creating an infinite set of "carefully measured randomness".


Azat Tabiev is an artist, Master of the Zhurgenov Academy of Arts, Member of the Union of Artists of Kazakhstan. He is a participant of several national and international exhibitions.

Personal exhibitions: Vienna, Austria (2010), Almaty, Art Salon Oner (2010), Sofia, Bulgaria (2011).

The artist's works are on display at the State Museum of Fine Arts of Naryn (Kyrgyzstan) and at the Management of Art Exhibitions in Almaty. Many of the works were purchased for private collections to Russia, Austria, Germany, France, Turkey, Canada, the United States.

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