Olga Mizgiryova: Mysteries of work and destiny

Photo: Yuri Shkurin

The beauty of oriental women, their refinement and mysterious charm are reflected in the pictures of Olga Mizgiryova “The Heat”, “Four Wife”, “Turkmen Girls”, “The Art of Carpet Making”, which together with two painted ceramic vases are presented at the exposition of the Museum of Visual Arts.

In one of the articles dedicated to the work of Olga Mizgiryova, Deputy Director of the Museum Jennet Karanova called the art heritage of the artist as a drop in the richest painting collection but such a bright drop! Indeed, how expressive and colourful every curl on tender cheek of young beauty carrying waterskin in “The Heat” or refined arm of the carpet maker who thoroughly select the colour of the thread to the pattern of carpet in “The Art of Carpet Maker”.

The art of Olga Mizgiryova is far from socialistic realism, it rather decorative and transmits the love of life. Uninitiated spectator thinks that the author is his contemporary, one of the students of the Art Academy. All of these is because the art of Mizgiryova is not getting old. The fact that the pictures of the artist are dated 1926 – 1927 makes many of the spectators to be puzzled.

The life of the painter is covered with legends, which passed from one spectator who stops near her picture to another. According to her birthday, she was 18 – 19 years old when she made the pictures. And the question comes: where is the rest? One of the most reliable version says that talented artist quit painting after divorce with Alexander Vladychuk and put an end to everything what connected them.

For some people, personal drama serves as a generator of new bright steps in the work. Mizgiryova, being uncompromised personality, decided to quit everything what united her with her former husband and to start new stage of life that is not related to the painting.

The fortune of this woman is paradoxical and divided into two parts, the first one is related to the study in art studio opened at political department of the 1st Army of Turkestan Front, which was reorganized shortly and received bombastic in the spirit of time name Intensive School of Oriental Arts.

Olga Mizgiryova was born in Tashkent and after together her parents moved to Karakala settlement (Magtumguly now). The teenager with good bents to the painting, having found out about the opening of art school in Ashgabat, became one of its student without thinking.

Alexander Vladychuk, the graduate of Stroganov College, charismatic painter, good organizer, sportsman, inventor and movie producer, was the director of the school. He worked not in the recently opened movie studio “Turkmenfilm” and made his first documentary “Reutov”; then fiction movie “White Gold” and scientific documentary “Water Treasury of Turkmensitan” are following. The Flag and National Emblem of Turkmen SSR made by his sketches remained national symbols until 1993.

In 1935, the group of enthusiasts made cycling ride from Ashgabat to Moscow on the analogues of bicycles invented by them. Young girl could not help falling in love with such man… Alexander Vladychuk and his colleague Ilya Mazel, who was born in Vitebsk - the homeland of Kazimir Malevich and Mark Shagal, were the followers of avant-garde style.

Having got to Turkestan in the years of the First World War, they stayed to live there. Severe beauty of nature and openness of local people made an impression on military personnel with artistic education and were inexhaustible source of art. The teachers of Intensive School of Oriental Arts generously shared their knowledge and world outlook with talented and committed students, one of which Olga Mizgiryova used to be. The style of her teacher is traced in rounded lines of artistic style of Mizgiryova but their works never come across as the main characters of Olga Mizgiryova are the women while the men are mostly the heroes of Alaexander Vladychuk. She adopted the lightness and expressiveness of the touch forming multilayer colour of the plot from her teacher and beloved man. In the picture “Turkmen Girls”, while one girl is carried away with drawing patterns on the sand, another one put her foot in the pool with wonderful plants. The canvas reminds topical carpet and the turtles and lizards of the bottom background as well as birds in the top serves as original frame.

Famous critic Y. Tugendhold, reviewing the first exhibition of the picture of Intensive School of Oriental Arts in Moscow, gave negative remarks: “ Working in Turkmenistan, our home “Gauguins” try to bring original ornamental art of Turkmenistan to life… the artist did not understand that old ornamental form does not match the content of revolutionary theme”.

However, after almost hundred years, we are impressed with the manner of artistic style of Olga Mzgiryova, Gauguin ‘s vision of oriental women and fanciful ornaments of her works. Her skills in orientalism in “Four Wives” where young wife shares the secrets with elder wife while other wives eavesdrop and keep an eye on them, is impressive. How one can feel the disposition of the East to describe this life situation so psychologically accurate.

The second exhibition of the School representatives in Moscow was better accepted by the critics. The works were distributed by groups: easel paintings, sketches, painting, sculpture, graphics. The same Y. Tugenndhold wrote an article in “News” dated October 4, 1923 with positive feedback. Even this did not save the situation and in 1925, Intensive School of Oriental Arts was closed. But I was her graduates who were at the beginning of national painting school. Byashim Nuraly is one of them. Sergey Beglyarov was its student. His beautiful picture “Friends”, where three girls share secrets in the pavilion under wine tree, which let numerous patches of sun through its carved leaves, is exhibited in the Museum of Oriental Arts in Moscow. Recently, the work “Checkers Players” by Sergey Beglyarov, which impressed the visitors by its liveliness and modernity, was exhibited in thematic exhibition in the capital.

At the same time, the artists of former Intensive School of Oriental Arts had specific objectives – to ridicule the vestiges of the past by caricatures and to switch to placards. It was not for Olga Mizgiryova – she used to work as her heart tells her and not by order. the solution was found by itself. The order from Dutch company on the sketches of tulips from the collection of Alexander Vavilov came and Olga Mizgiryova started this work with great enthusiasm. She came back to Karakala – the favourite place of her childhood, and got the job as laboratory assistant in Turkmen experimental station of All-union Institute of plant growing.

This was the second stage of her life devoted to scientific inventions. Olga Mizgiryova had resolute dedicated character. “She would be better as regiment commander” – her friends and colleagues characterised her. She did not have enough knowledge to work as a selectionist and Olga Mizgiryova graduated distantly agronomic faculty of Agricultural institute in Ashgabat.

The team she used to work in had the same views. That is why the work was successful. In 1944, she headed experimental station and stayed in that position for 37 years. She was awarded with five golden and two silver medals of All-Russian Exhibition Centre of USSR, two Orders of Labour Red Flag, two Orders of Honour and the title “Honoured Agronomist of Turkmenistan”. But her most considerable achievement is new breed of mandragora. She managed to discover this plant in the foothills of Kopetdag Mountains and ever since it is known in the Register of the World Plant Growing as Mandragora turkmenica.

Private life of Olga Mizgiryova was also arranged, she married one of the personnel of the station Nikolai Minakov and had another daughter. She lived two lives for her long life and the second one was better than the first…

Olga Mizgiryova died when she was 86. She passed away but plantation of mandragora, for which Olga Fominichna were a godmother. Syunt Hasardag Reserve, in establishment of which she took an active part, continues its work. Dozens of new types of grapes, pomegranate, cherry, pistachio, walnut and many other fruit trees, which became selection heritage of Turkmenistan, remained.

Small house where our outstanding compatriot used to live for a long time, her personal belongings and archive, numerous awards received by Olga Fominichna, scientific articles and rare photos from the life of artist and selectionist Olga Mizgiryova are still kept. These priceless rarities as well as growing public interest to unordinary personality of the artist and the scientist give reason to hope for foundation of House Museum of Olga Mizgiryova, which exhibits probably would shed the light on the details of intriguing turn of the fortune of unordinary and talented personality who preferred live incarnation of beauty rather than images.