The Saddle Mountain (2456 m) - a mountain located near the village of Chokh, the native aul of Khalilbek Musayasul, the Table Mountain (3003 m) – a mountain at the foot of which Vladikavkaz is located, the place where the artist's new life began.
The research project “Kamliy” is dedicated to the little-known period of stay in Vladikavkaz of Khalilbek Musayasul, the first professional Dagestani artist, who left his homeland early and ended up in forced emigration.
The inner dialogue of a young artist facing a choice - to stay or to leave forever. The inner dialogue is presented as if from 2 peaks, from two mountains - from the Saddle Mountain and the Table Mountain.
There is a strong echo in the mountains, and the voices of those shouting to each other are heard very far. The Saddle Mountain raised the future famous artist, here he absorbed the most important things that characterize a highlander. At the foot of the Table Mountain, the artist painfully reflected on his fate, clearly realizing his kysmat. (translated from Dagestani as "fate")
Vladikavkaz was the first attempt to separate himself from his homeland, the artist did not live in the city for a long time – just in 19-20-ies, then returned to Dagestan. But it was this trip and a short period of living in Vladikavkaz, communication with people like him that were lost and abandoned at the foot of the large the Table Mountain, so clearly reminding his native Saddle Mountain, that determined his fate.
In my project, the Table Mountain acts not only as a geographical object or a point on a map, but also as a literary work – the only source of information about the artist.
The writer Yuri Slezkin, who lived in Vladikavkaz in 1919-1920, wrote a book about a city that for a time became a kind of Babylon for lost and missing souls, a trap for representatives of the Russian intelligentsia, who arrived in a state of painful thoughts about themselves, their fate and the fate of their homeland. This endless, inner dialogue forced some of them to drama and despondency, and others – to action.
Khalilbek Musayasul will soon leave his homeland forever - first, at the beginning of 1920 he will return to Dagestan, and then at the beginning of 1921 he will leave the Caucasus forever following the same route.
If we do not consider the facts set forth in the book by Yu. Slezkin, we know nothing about Khalilbek's stay in Vladikavkaz, except for one single fact stated in an article by T. Devi in the Kavkaz newspaper dated February 26, 1920, in which his first solo exhibition is mentioned in passing. Where and for how long the exhibition was held, what he presented at it - no mentions...
By that time, he was already a good artist, created many works in painting, graphics, book illustration. He mastered 1 course in the Caucasian Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts in Tiflis, studied at the Saratov Art School, at the Academy of Arts in Munich, Bavaria - actually a student already. At home, in Dagestan, he was known and in demand. But why does he arrange his first personal exhibition not at home, but in Vladikavkaz, at the foot of the Table Mountain? By logical comparisons and studying the materials of the artist's work of that period, I can assume that most likely Khalilbek Musayasul went to Vladikavkaz not to have leisure, but to ponder his progress to Tiflis and further, along the Black Sea, to Europe. That is why he took his work with him. Following the information from Yu. Slezkin's book, I can assume that, while living in Vladikavkaz among the urban, cultural intelligentsia, he had an accidental idea to exhibit his works.
The second part of the project will be a small exhibition of graphic works - free, recognizable copies of the artist's works, selected based on my ideas about what works could be shown during the Vladikavkaz exhibition. I suggested that the authors of the copies would be the 3rd year students of the Dagestan Art School named after M. Jemal (Jemal is a colleague and friend of the artist in Dagestan).
A possible continuation of the project could be open-air watercolor sketches of the students of the Higher Art School at the sites of Khalilbek Musayasul. Thus, the project will clarify this period in the life and work of Khalilbek Musayasul, "see" the creative method and style from the height of the Table Mountain
Photo collage — Gaivoronsky Musa
The authors of free copies of the art works of Khalilbek Musayasul — students of the Dagestan Art School named after M. Jemal: Abakarova Karina, Akhmedova Umay, Dibirova Aminat, Kuzieva Asiyat, Lomakina Arina, Salikhova Patimat.
Who are you?
– My name is Khalil-bek. I am an Avar – the first, the only artist in my country. My features are sharp, thin, my narrow waist is tightly tied with a strap; the gait of the mountaineers that looks like dancing. Two men live in me unmixedly – a European and an Asian, a child smiling at the sun.
Where are you from?
–… from Avaria – this country cut off from the world ascending high on the mountains of Dagestan. There, early in the morning, girls go to the spring for water – only then can the sinful eye of a young man see them. The song of Gelyun is still heard there – this sun god who left people so as to sing his songs to animals and birds on the heights about how beautiful and blessed the sky, earth, grasses, fertile life are.
What are you running from?
– During the years of war and revolution, I realized what a dead end of vulgarity and selfishness we all, people who call themselves cultured, have come to. And I was drawn to the mountains, to my aul, where they live as common shepherds lived a hundred years ago untouched by our rot. From there you can see much farther and better. I assure you! And don't say the mountains blocked my way. It is not true! Mountains make a man master his will; they make him run high.
Why did you stay here?
– I could not leave ... but I should not stay here either... here they do not understand simple feelings, do not believe a word, do not know how to obey the law. ... I am an Avar, a ridiculous anachronism among the locals, a medieval knight who found himself in a shop of traders. Everything that is indisputable and sacred for me is sold and bought here.
What do you do here?
… I am fond of watercolors, color illustrations… I finished the third drawing from my fairytale cycle “Seven Carpets of the Queen – Seven Days of the Week” – I embroidered with watercolors on Whatman paper. Seven carpets, where colors burn, dance, sing, like the flowers of Dagestan, like birds in the gardens of Avar princes, like the Terek.
You are an artist, European. What do you like about art?
–… I like Benoit's illustrations for “The Queen of Spades”, “Apollo”, Tugenhold? ... I would like to see Russian artists and ballet in Paris, which are in great fashion there.
How do you live here, at the foot of the Kazbek?
–… The city lies in a depression, and in front – there are mountains. It is not so easy to overstep them, not easy at all. Everything requires skill, sharpness, familiarity with external conditions – and time. If only one had wings… Everyone is trying to see Kazbek in the sun haze. The highest mountain in these lands. Winter and summer snow lies on its shoulders and forehead – Allah’s blissful eye rests on it. And it is only on particularly clear and happy days that it can be seen by humans. Particularly happy...
Will you stay here?
– Inhaling the mountain scent of grass growing at the snowy heights, I cry and think – "It is better for me to lay down my life as my father's sheep shepherd in my land, than to be glorious in an alien land."
Are you homesick?
–… climbing up from Redant, with burdocks and oak forest crawling uphill, I run to the top of the hill. The city is completely visible below, the mountains and the sky are above. I laugh like in childhood, feeling light, liberated. Mountains! Mountains! Mountains!.. There is a direct path to the mountains from here. From kunak to kunak, along the paths up and up, to the mountain range, to Chokh aul.
However, you are leaving further?
– To tell the truth, I did not feel such great love for my aul, for my country before. Very wild, very poor people live there. I got bored more than once when I came there. They all came - bowed, sat down, looking in amazement at my colors, at my easel, at portraits. They did not understand why would anyone depict people, living people. “After all, this is a sin,” they said, “you should paint flowers, herbs, weave carpet patterns from them, decorate the walls of mosques with them, but (not) living people?.. Only Allah creates a person, gives him a soul, and the soul is invisible.” No, they refused to understand and sat in silence, reproachfully. "Your son has a skillful hand," they said to my father as they left, "he can glorify us, but let him not raise his hand against a man." These people have become strangers to me since the time I visited Munich and Paris, Rome and Florence. You can’t lock yourself up, say that you are busy, that they are interfering with you. Such behaviour would be considered a blood grievance worthy of revenge. Hospitality in my country is too sacred. A guest enters without asking, bows and sits down - he is your master, you no longer belong to yourself. Many people praised my colors. They liked to squeeze carmine, sienna, umber from tubes, smear paint on a stone. And I had to give out them as a present and work afterwards only with charcoal and pencils, because it wasn’t possible to get new ones anywhere. That's the kind of people they are. …I traveled to foreign countries to make my aul glorious ... not death but joy awaits me. Joy. Do you hear?
Who are you?