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Oriental Dreams: Russian Avant-Garde and Silks of Bukhara

"I have studied everything that
the West can give for now [...]
Now I shake the dust from my feet and leave the West [...]
My path is to the original source of all arts, to the East".
Natalya Goncharova



On May 31 of 2006 Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the RAS held the opening of the exhibition titled "Oriental Dreams: Russian Avant-Garde and Silks of Bukhara". For the first time one of its halls presented:

  • famous Central Asian collections of Kunstkamera - a collection of clothing and fabrics,
  • pieces of art of the Russian Avant-garde artists unknown to wide public and specially brought to Uzbekistan,
  • works of contemporary Uzbek fashion designers.

"Oriental Dreams: Russian Avant-Garde and Silks of Bukhara" - is a story of the interaction of cultures, which first and foremost means that it is a story of human fellowship. Mass consciousness of the population of Russia today has this image of Central Asia formed by V. V. Vereschagin ("The Doors of Tamerlane"), Leonid Soloviev ("Khoja Nasreddin") and the authors of the cult film "White Sun of the Desert". Meanwhile, the cultures of Russia and Uzbeksitan are tied together with thousands upon thousands threads. One of such threads is a fabulously interesting interconnection of forms and images of the paintings of Russian avant-garde and aesthetic principles underlying the foundation of graphic and color decision of traditional Central Asian fabrics (ikats).

Kunstkamera is the keeper of the richest collection of Central Asian fabrics in Europe. It contains the samples of textile fabrics, complexes of holiday and everyday attire and adornments. The most important part of the collection is comprised of ceremonial gifts to Russian Tsars from Bukharan emirs and khans of Khiva. The best of it (over 160 exhibits) are presented at the exhibition.

Petersburg scholars are ready to tell the exhibition visitors striking stories of "talking fabrics", the ornamentation, composition and color gamut of which have brought to us the depths of ancient wisdom, the passion of feelings and the refinement of cultural tradition, unfortunately, so little understood by an European or an American.

The works little known to wider audience will be brought to St. Petersburg from Uzbekistan. These will be the works of such prominent representatives of Russian Avant-garde as Alexei Yavlinskii, brothers Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg, Ivan Kliun, Varvara Stepanova, Alexander Rodchenko and Alexandra Exter.

The organizers of the "Dreaming of the East" project are positive that the art of Central Asia is more than a hardened museum substance. That was the reason behind transporting designer developments of contemporary fashion designers from Uzbekistan, unified under the Tashkent "House of Style". Among these works are those of Gulnara Karimova, the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Forum of Culture and Art of Uzbekistan Foundation, the creator of a designer jewelry brand "Guli" and a series of clothing collections, and Sherzod Atabaev - a talented designer, award winner of various republican and international festivals.

A defile video and video film on creation of silk plays a part in the exhibition. The video part of the exhibition is supplied with eastern fragrances at the heart of which are musk and jasmine.

The exhibition, the scientific part of which was realized within the framework of "Ijma‘=Concord" program, is a joint project of Kunstkamera, the Tashkent State Museum of Arts of Uzbekistan, the Tashkent House of Style and the Fund Forum of Culture and Art of Uzbekistan Foundation and the Russian Asiatic Society. The Kempinski Hotel "Moika 22" (St. Petersburg) also participated in the organization of the project; the exhibition of contemporary Uzbek artists was set there. Respectable Uzbek delegation headed by Gulnara Karimova, the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Forum of Culture and Art of Uzbekistan Foundation, took part in the opening of the exhibition. Informational support of the project is carried out by news agency "Rosbalt".


The exhibition video may be watched here


"Vesti" Saint-Petersburg (01.06.2006). TV report by Alexey Oliferuk

About Project:

Author and head of the exhibition project - Efim Rezvan
Coordinator of the Uzbek side of the project - Gayane Avakian
Scientific coordinator - Rahmat Rahimov
Leading specialist - Elena Traserva
Curator of the Uzbek side of the project - Elmira Ahmedova
Design - Sergei Duzhnikov
Photo-project - Tatiana Fedorova
Video-project - Tatitana and Alexander Soloviev