Young Artists Convey Everyday Life Along Silk Road

ALMATY – Participants of the International Silk Road Forum visited an exhibition presented by students of the Abilkhan Kasteyev School of Fine Arts and Technical Design of the UNESCO Club.

The young artists, ages 5–18, tried to convey the everyday lives of people living along the Silk Road and surrounding regions and their struggles for bread and happiness, their dreams and hopes as well as their anxieties and joys. A complex history of the rich cultural heritage of the great Silk Road is seen though the ingenious and innocent visions of the young artists.

“To teach art history in schools, we give lessons on theory divided by time period, style and epoch. Of course, we touch upon the Silk Road, which is directly related to a variety of colours and techniques,” said vice-president of the Kazakh National Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Hanzada Yessenova.

Here, for example, is a work utilizing an Arabic technique called “grizal”. It’s a style of monochrome painting. In ancient times, Eastern masters painted with strong tea or coffee, which gave their pictures a velvet like appearance and a dark sandy colour. Take the work of five-year old Zhania Mustafina. Her creative understanding of the Silk Road is a bright “Oriental still life.” Many young artists feel the road represents kindness and hospitality, a rich tablecloth that is reflected in their drawings. Mixed themes from Kazakhstan, China, and Vietnam in a single composition are represented in the “grattazh” technique, showing the child’s vision of interactions between neighbours along this route.

Personal perceptions and understandings of the Silk Road in the younger generation is very diverse. Many of the children’s drawings represent their world of spiritual quest and empathy. A striking example is the work of 15-year-old Vladimir Sedov titled “Mother Earth” or “A drop of life” made by 14-year-old Anastasia Alexeyevskaya. This is conditioned by the fact that in the Eastern traditions, the cult of earth and the cult of mother – domestic goddess, the continuity of generations are clearly pronounced. When the parents talk about this with their children, they take this information to heart. History is born on a sheet of paper.

According to Yessenova, these works are not only a big part of the forum and its art collection, but also, cultural and educational treasures, “they are lessons from the children.”