Every other year, artists from around the world gather in Tashkent to display their work at an exhibition featured within the annual Style.Uz Art Week sponsored by Fund Forum.
This year, the exhibition will include original paintings from Ronald Kleijer, visual arts teacher at Tashkent International School, and Sue Thorburn, a TIS parent. Both Kleijer and Thorburn are world-acclaimed artists, having had their paintings exhibited in galleries around the world.
The 7th Tashkent International Biennale of Contemporary Art opened on Wednesday, October 23 at various venues around Tashkent. The exhibition of contemporary art featuring the works of Kleijer and Thorburn opend at 5 p.m. on October 23 at the Academy of Artists of Uzbekistan. The venue is across the street from the TSUM department store. All exhibitions run through October 27.
This is the third time Kleijer has participated in the bi-annual exhibition; it is Thorburn’s first foray into the Tashkent art world. Thorburn and her family arrived in Tashkent in summer 2013. Her husband, Rob Thorburn, is a secondary theatre arts teacher and head of the arts department. They are here with their son, Tad, who is in grade 11 at TIS.
The paintings Kleijer will show at the exhibition are an installation of 54 small portraits, oil on canvas. Kleijer has been working on the collection over the past three years. Titled “Portraits of Central Asia,” the paintings are personal pieces he documented during travels through Uzbekistan and Central Asia. Each piece originated from a sketch or photograph he took. Kleijer added that he likes to remain intimate with his work, painting images of things he has personally seen and experienced.
“All the people [in the portraits] are my people, people I’ve met on my path,” Kleijer explained. “I need to meet them in order to paint them. Sometimes I even get invited into their homes.”
The exhibition is also a chance for Kleijer’s students to see him work outside the classroom and to experience other artists from around the world.
“Firstly, I feel I am still an artist. I am a practitioner who teaches,” Kleijer said. “This exhibition makes connections to the wider artist community and for the International Baccalaureate student, this is vital. Looking is half the work.”
When Thorburn and her family came to Tashkent, Kleijer told her about the exhibition and encouraged her to submit her paintings. Despite the short notice (only a month to create new, original works), Thorburn applied and has submitted six abstract pieces.
The small paintings are collectively called “First Impressions – Tashkent 2013” and are a reflection of what Thorburn has seen and experienced in her first few weeks in Uzbekistan.
Before Tashkent, Thorburn and her family lived in Uganda. Her most recent exhibition was in 2012 in Kampala. Thorburn was one of 12 artists chosen to participate in “Twelve Boxes Moving,” a contemporary art festival in Kampala. Twelve shipping containers were placed throughout the city with each artist using a container as a personal canvas or gallery. The series Thorburn created was titled “Stillness Contained.”