Erarta Museum presented an exhibition by the Kazakh sculptor Tamerlane Tles whose highly decorative works show rare materials interwoven into allegorical maps of human lives
Eternal subjects rarely explored by contemporary art of the day – nation, religion, and homeland
Legacy of the ancient artisanal traditions preserved in the 21st century
Irony jettisoned in favour of beauty
Sculptor Tamerlane Tles is a true global citizen, a speaker of four languages with an international track record, but his solo exhibition presents him first and foremost as a Kazakh artist. The featured series of three exquisite panels is totally devoid of the irony that permeates modern-day art. The artist chooses to explore such subjects as national history and religion. His artworks give voice to ancient artisanal traditions thanks to contemporary communication solutions.
In order to create the central Omir panel, Tamerlane visited three continents in search of rare materials and craftsmen who could unlock their full potential. Even the tiniest element of the artwork is conceptualised. Each detail expresses a certain idea. This complex symbolical language dovetails with the solemnity of concept: in Kazakh, өмір (omir) means ‘life.’ Tamerlane Tles creates a model ‘map’ of life, recounting the genesis of an entire nation and, on an even broader scale, the world. He believes that an artist’s mission lies not only in enrapturing the viewer with the integrity of creation, but, no less importantly, in inspiring, encouraging thought process, and even offering certain moral guidelines. Perhaps this is the reason why Tles’ artworks are tinged with didacticism rarely found in contemporary art museums. It is no mere coincidence that he seeks to combine the most extraordinary materials that exist on the planet with the most poetical verses from the Quran. The artist reaches out to the viewer using parables and timeless symbols, inviting us to join in an unhurried conversation.
Tamerlane Tles is a strictly disciplined perfectionist. Each of his artworks is carefully calculated and planned. Looking for the reflections of divine harmony, the artist went through a series of dazzling adventures and took multiple impulsive decisions in realising his vision. Abandoning for a while his craft of a sculptor, Tamerlane seems to have tried on the role of an epic hero – Odysseus or, even more accurately, Sindbad the Sailor. Travels in search of alligator leather, dinosaur bones, meteorite shards, and gems resulted in wonderful encounters and revealed simple, but important truths. Visiting Italian marble quarries and Moroccan desert ascertained that nature (or, for the religious person, the Creator) is the best engineer and artist of all.
Kazakh cosmogony and belief system can be traced in the rich variety of signs abundantly scattered throughout Tamerlane Tles’ works. However, if a sign always equals itself and has a precise interpretation, it might be interesting to try and read it as a symbol according to one’s personal experience and emotional perception. An inquisitive viewer may get fully absorbed by the meanings attached to heraldic symbols, like winged leopards, Tulpars, and golden eagles. The artworks featured in this exhibition were crafted by an international team of artisans and, in keeping with the ancient tradition, each of them put part of his soul into their joint creation. The exhibition at Erarta is akin to a parable told in the universal human language. Each work poses a question and simultaneously offers the answer.