Names in Turkmen Art: Yakub Annanurov

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Names in Turkmen Art: Yakub Annanurov

Five years ago, ahead of the 25th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s independence, a number of prominent figures, who had contributed greatly to strengthening our home country’s sovereignty, were posthumously decorated with the Watana Bolan Söýgüsi Üçin Medal (the Medal for the Love for the Fatherland) by a Ukase of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. Among them was Magtymguly State Award recipient, People’s Artist of Turkmenistan Yakub Annanurov. 

…As long as Yakub could remember, he had always had a desire to draw and paint.  When the first art club opened at the Ashgabat Pioneer Palace, the then 12-year-old was one of the first to join it. The young artist’s experienced teachers developed his talent and taught him to appreciate and love art in all its manifestations. Later, he took a great interest in music and theater. Alty Karliev invited young talented artist Annanurov to work at the Turkmen Republican Traveling Theater and commissioned him to create sets for his production ‘Ayna’. At 18 Yakub worked at the Turkmen Drama Theater in Ashgabat as a production designer. But his desire to draw and paint was what mattered most to him.  

At that time, he created his first easel painting ‘Embroiderers’ which captivates the viewer with the beauty of vibrant colors and true-to-life and realistic portrayal. The two women in the painting appear to be in motion in the traditional interior setting.

Young Yakub Annanurov’s paintings were recognized as works of high artistic merit, and he was sent to study at the Kalinin Art and Industry School in Moscow. After finishing it, the gifted artist was granted priority admission to V. I. Surikov Moscow State Art Institute, where he studied under the tutelage of I. Grabar. I. Favorsky, A. Deineka, and S. Gerasimov and became interested in such a psychological genre as portraiture. Back in Ashgabat, Yakub became the winner of a competition for the best canonic portrait of the poet Kemine, being the youngest among the participants.  

Yakub Annanurov worked on the portrayals of Kemine throughout his life, having created several portraits of the poet in different periods of his life.  

But the war broke out and disrupted the peaceful life and creative work. In 1946, the artist returned back home with military decorations pinned on his chest: the Order of the Patriotic War (2nd Class) and the Red Star Order. Feeling a great yearning to paint, he created a series of works depicting scenes of peaceful life only.  His paintings of that period are imbued with openness, kindness, good intentions and a profound belief in a happy future.    

The artist’s signature subjects are portrayals of veteran collective farmers, scientists, writers, artists, builders, and teachers. He painted people of different professions and occupations, who sought to build a peaceful life and nurture the best qualities in the younger generation. 

Yakub Annanurov made good use of the psychological basics of portrait painting he had learned before, when working on portraits of film director Alty Karliev, composer Danatar Ovezov, painters Izzat Klychev and Aman Kuliev, actors Aman Kulmamedov and Mukhamed Cherkezov. Even today, taking a close look at these familiar faces in the portraits, viewers find themselves thinking that they see ordinary people blessed with talents. This unique refined simplicity is a distinctive characteristic of the portraits by Yakub Annanurov. 

Art experts say that a considerable number of paintings by the artist are devoted to teachers and those working in creative fields. Probably, this can explain Yakub Annanurov’s latent desire to communicate kindness, respect for working people and the importance of inner beauty in his portrayals of people who do good things and impart knowledge.  


The artist created many paintings reflecting the Turkmen people’s history and rich cultural traditions. Yakub Annanurov dedicated his life to his artistic career, native country and people. 

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Great Victory, the artist, who was in his fifties, painted ‘Nobody is Forgotten’ in memory of those who died in the dreadful war. The painting takes the viewer to the village of Ramenskoe, Moscow Region, where the Eternal Flame Memorial was built on what was a battlefield then to honor those who had died in the Great Patriotic War. Turkmens and Russians fought shoulder to shoulder for their Motherland. Those who fought in the battle and relatives of fallen soldiers came here to pay tribute to the heroes.  

The painting depicts the tragedy of an old Turkmen mother, who lost her children and relatives in the war. Stricken with grief, she bends down before the marble slab at the Eternal Flame Memorial. A young woman helps the grieving mother. Nearby are war veterans standing thoughtfully bowing their heads. At some distance, young guards of honor are standing at attention. Yakub Annanurov’s ‘Nobody is Forgotten’ touches the hearts of viewers with great humanity and helps to preserve the memory of our people’s enormous sacrifice. It is a heartfelt tribute to all those who lost their lives during the horrible war years. 

Love for his native people, respect for their history and traditions, a lively interest in working people, whether they were creative individuals, or collective farmers or workers, were at the core of artist Yakub Annanurov’s career.   

- That year, when the Presidential decree was issued, marked what would have been my father’s 100th birthday, the artist’s oldest son Atamyrat Annanurov recollects. All those who came to pay tribute to the memory of my father, his fellow artists, numerous students, acquaintances, neighbors and relatives shared in this joy. 

Paintings by Yakub Annanurov have left an indelible imprint on the Turkmen nation’s art and culture. They are the artist’s legacy. The Medal for the Love for the Fatherland, like no other, reflects the sincerity of the artist whose every work exudes boundless love for his native country.

Altyn Asyr correspondent 

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