Created over a series of journeys to China’s Xinjiang region, photographer Lisa Ross captures a kaleidoscope of spiritual energy in her exhibit ‘Living Shrines of Uyghur China,’ which shows through July 8 at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. Ross’s series of vibrant images juxtaposes airy Islamic holy sites, called mazars, against Xinjiang’s stark desert landscape. A number of the mazars, which honor the lives of Muslim saints, have been maintained for hundreds of years. With some shrines almost psychedelic in appearance, Ross adeptly channels the vivacity of Uyghur culture without featuring a single human being in her photographs. Her serene portraits illustrate the harmonious intersection of religion, nature and this graceful and austere form of architecture.
I’ve got my two adorable children to thank for entering a children’s store in Almaty and discovering these covetable rolling animals from Vishnyovii Papa (‘Cherry Papa’) designs, made by local designer Chingiz Shakurov. I am so thrilled to find something so attractive, well-designed, and fun which has been made in Kazakhstan. Such a treat after the endless shipping containers of Chinese plastic in the bazaar.
There is still time to rush out and see the British Library’s latest Exhibition “Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire”, which closes on April 2nd. It might not, at first sight, appear to be a natural stamping ground for Steppe readers, more interested in the lands further north. However, it goes without saying that the clue is in the name. The Mughal Empire was ultimately sprung from the Mongol and Turkic dynasties of Central Asia, descended from Genghis Khan and Tamerlane. Its founder, Babur (1483-1530) was born in Ferghana and briefly ruled in Samarkand, but was forced from his homeland by Uzbek invaders, and ultimately moved his power base to Kabul and then India. Continue reading Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire
If you’re up on your Uzbek Usmanov’s, you may well have heard of Alisher Usmanov – the billionaire steel magnate who has successfully diversified into telecommunications and new media, including a clever purchase of facebook shares that, it seems, netted him £1.4bn at their IPO last May. But you may well not have heard of Jamol Usmanov, an Uzbek painter influenced by Sufi philosophy and the Eastern Sufi poetry of Rumi, Navoi, Nizami et al, although we like to hope he too will become a household name.
In September 2012 Christie’s will present ‘Of Sand and Silk’, the first European solo-exhibition of the prominent Russian artist Alexander Volkov (1886-1957). Volkov was born in the Fergana valley into the family of a Russian military doctor. He achieved significant lifetime recognition for his depictions of Central Asia, his paintings uniquely combining cutting-edge Western painterly styles with the inspiration he drew from traditional Central Asian craftsmanship. Volkov loved his homeland passionately and often repeated: “One does not need the whole world. A small part will suffice”. Continue reading Alexander Volkov: Of Sand and Silk