Uzbek artist hopes his 66-meter-long artwork will stun Europeans

Ibragimov shows sketches of his artwork at his home in Tashkent.

TASHKENT: It’s longer than an Olympic swimming pool, took two-and-a-half years to complete and fulfills a 40-year dream – a new mega-canvas by one of Uzbekistan’s best-known artists, inspired by “One Thousand and One Nights.”

Now, the immense painting by Lekim Ibragimov is on its way to Europe, where it will be put on show first in the Czech Republic and then in other European countries.

Ibragimov started working on the project, named “One Thousand Angels and One Painting,” in 2010 and put the finishing touches on it in April.

It measures 8-meters high, an extraordinary 66 meters long, used several tons of paint and is so big it takes days to be installed on site.

The work’s 1,000 paintings stand alone as individual pictures in their own right, but when put together also form a single continuous painting based on the classic oriental folk tale.

“While every piece, each depicting an image of angel, is itself a painting of full value,” said the 68-year-old painter, “they make a single unified painting when assembled together.”

In each of the 1,000 pictures Ibragimov has included the image of an angel, and visitors are encouraged to search to “find your own guardian angel.

“In fact, the angels have always been present on my paintings and this is why the mega-project is a logical continuation of my creative career,” said Ibragimov, who is an academic at Uzbekistan’s Arts Academy and a member of the Russian Academy of Arts.

The artist, who combined graphic and pictorial art mixing Uzbek and Chinese fresco painting styles with European color-blending techniques, said he had been dreaming of such a mega-project for almost four decades.

It is a massive undertaking.

With its installation equipment, the work weighs more than 20 tons, with 2.4 kilometers of steel cables, and it will take four days for at least four people to install its more than 500 square meters like a giant curved panorama.

The vast painting is marked by bold red and blue colors and exuberant brush strokes. When fully mounted it is displayed in a curved formation supported by a scaffold behind it, with visitors free to walk from each end.

Ibragimov explains the presence of the Buddha-like figures and terracotta color as a reference to the pre-Islamic history of Central Asia.

The work will be displayed at the Incheba Praha exhibition center in Prague from July 9-21.

Ibragimov was born in the Almaty region of then-Soviet Kazakhstan, but moved to Tashkent in the 1970s, where he was inspired by Uzbekistan’s eastern culture.

After Prague, the mega-artwork will be displayed in Madrid.

“We are in negotiations with the Madrid city administration to display it in the city center, in the open air,” said Ulugbek Kasimkhodjaev, of the Russia-based event-management company Global Festina.

The project has been submitted to the Guinness World Records Committee as “the world’s largest painting consisting of 1,000 pieces.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 03, 2012, on page 16.




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