Uzbek Avant-Garde Artists of the 1920s and 1930s
Boy in a Fur Cap 1924
Plywood tempera. 26 x 22cm
Alexander Nikolayev (1897-1957)
In 1908-1916, Alexander Nikolayev studied in the Sumsk Military School close to Poltava, then in Ulan School in Tver. In 1918, he attended the Art Studio of A. Buchkuri in Voronezh and the following year, he began studying in the Second State Free Art Studio in Moscow under K. Malevich, but was called up to the front. After demobilization in 1920, Nikolayev was sent to Tashkent with the Commission of the Turk CEC (Turkestan Central Executive Committee) to develop and improve the arts and culture throughout the region.
Nikolayev was fascinated by the Orient and explored every aspect of its culture. The traditions of Uzbekistan, the way of life, crafts and nature inspired the artist throughout his life and influenced his creative work. On his conversion to Islam, the artist received a new name, Usto-Mumin, which means Faithful Master. While working as art director of the Uzbek Pavilion in AUAE (All- Union Agricultural Exhibition) in Moscow in 1938, Nikolayev was unexpectedly arrested and imprisoned. Initially in prison he was not allowed to paint, a cause of immense suffering for the artist. However, in 1943 Nikolayev received a Diploma from the Central Executive Committee of the Uzbek SSR for his active work in establishing the Uighur Theatre. For the remainder of his life Nikolayev devoted himself to creative and social work.