Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Avant-Garde Art in the most unlikely location

During Soviet times Savitsky collected over 90,000 artifacts and works of art, many of which did not conform to Soviet ideals. Some of the artists were persecuted for their art and many works were lost. But in the far west of Uzbekistan, on the Turkmen border, Savitsky was left alone by the authorities. Now this collection is one of the most important of its era and something we did not want to miss.

It was worth the journey. We were the only people in the gallery and spent a wonderful few hours drinking in the fantastic works of art. We had had a complete drought of contemporary art for 6 months so it was such a treat. Although works are lent to other galleries around the world it is fantastic that the main collection remains in the remote town of Nukus - a real reward for people that make it to this corner of Uzbekistan. The gallery seems to also retain its rebel streak with an exhibition on the environmental disaster which is happening in the Aral Sea.

Otherwise the town of Nukus has little to write home about. It used to be the site of a chemical weapons factory which is vaguely interesting. But we found it a breath of fresh air as, unlike the other towns and cities we had visited in Uzbekistan, there were at least people going about normal life.

Block of flats in Nukus

The Karekalpak Museum housing the Savitsky art collection

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