Ï Work is in full swing in Saragt Babayev's workshop
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Work is in full swing in Saragt Babayev's workshop

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Work is in full swing in Saragt Babayev's workshop
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Alexey Gimalitdinov

In the foothills of Kopetdag in the south of Ashgabat, in the cultural and park complex of Magtymguly Fragi, in addition to the monumental sculpture dedicated to the outstanding Turkmen poet and thinker, it was decided to install sculptures of foreign poets and thinkers who have made a significant contribution to the world's spiritual heritage. With this information, we went to the workshop of Saragt Babayev, People's Artist of Turkmenistan.

- Saragt Babayev, fellow countrymen are eagerly awaiting the opening of the sculpture of Magtymguly. This work has already gained popularity among artists and has been reflected in many paintings. Therefore, the news of the installation of additional sculptures in the cultural and park complex is of great interest. Which of the famous poets will be honored to be next to Magtymguly?

- Currently, the list includes 25 foreign writers, but it is constantly changing. Our criterion is that it should be a person who showed himself in literature and left a mark in the historical transformation of the world. We reach out to the governments of other countries and coordinate the nominations of such individuals.

For instance, China will be represented by the poet Du Fu, who lived in 712 - 770, Georgia - Shota Rustaveli, the poet of the 12th century, and Iran – Qutb al-Din Shirazi, a mathematician of the 13th-14th centuries, the author of the Persian translation of Euclid's "Elements" and other scientific treatises.

Among the contenders for a monument in the cultural and park complex of Magtymguly Fragi are such celebrities as Rabindranath Tagore (India), Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Germany), Alisher Navoi (Uzbekistan), Yunus Emre (Turkey), and others.

There will also be more recent creative personalities closer to our time, including William Shakespeare, Honore de Balzac, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Chingiz Aitmatov.

- The bronze monument of Magtymguly Fragi reaches a height of 60 meters. What will be the size of the monuments to other luminaries?

- They will also be made of bronze but will be significantly smaller in height - 3.5 meters, plus a pedestal of 2 meters and 50 centimeters.

- And still, this is an enormous amount of work! How will you manage to finish it by mid-May?

- The work on the monumental sculpture is not done alone. When creating the sculpture of Magtymguly, a team of 36 sculptors was involved. Moreover, the team consisted of artists of three generations: me, my students, and the students of my students. I intentionally rely on the younger generation, which quickly grasps what is required of them in their creative work.

Now, starting work on the foreign luminaries, I have selected the 11 most hardworking and talented sculptors. In the process, their number will surely increase.

To meet the deadline, we have implemented an emergency work schedule: starting at 8:00 am, lunch at 14:00 - 14:40, dinner at 22:00, and rest at 2:00. By the way, the production of small-scale sculptures, so to speak, rough or trial versions, is the most creative process, and we have almost completed it. The meticulous, very responsible, but mostly mechanical processes are yet to come.

We receive tremendous support from The National Leader of the Turkmen people, Chairman of the Halk Maslahaty of Turkmenistan Hero-Arkadag Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.

- Thank you for the interview. We believe in you and wish you great creative success!