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Artist: Oezbeek - Anoraxon (1941 - 2008)
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About artist: Oezbeek - Anoraxon (1941 - 2008)
Anoraxon is the real name of the artist behind the pseudonym, "Oezbeek." This is an artist who left us his remarkable canvases, reminders of hundreds of jazz festival concerts. The unforgettable images in his paintings are soulful outpourings of those musicians and singers who performed at Holland's most famous jazz festival – North Sea Jazz Festival in Hague. Now these paintings are history since the artist died in 2008. His life was not an easy one but probably it was a difficult path that gave the artist that particular view of the world he revealed to us in his most famous paintings.
Anoraxon was born in 1941 – on the eve of the war – in a small Uzbek village. Because of a birthmark on the back of the newborn, a mullah named the infant Anoraxon that means "a child with a mark." It was a mark that appeared to be a face broken in half. The mullah bitterly shook his head for he knew that this mark would determine the rest of the boy's entire life. That is how it turned out. During the war and totalitarian years of the Soviet Union the small boy's unusual abilities were perceived as being incorrect. But all Anoraxon did, he wrote with his left hand always drawing something in the sand that was everywhere, because paper during the war years was an unspeakable luxury.
Very early he began to help his father who transported to sell vegetables and fruits from their garden to bazaar. That was how they made a living. The family was poor. It turned out that the bazaar took the place of almost everything in the boy's life. The famous Tashkent bazaar is like Noah's Ark, an insane Babylon for all nationalities and professions.
The time came to go to school. That was when they noticed that the boy was left-handed and they said that he had to switch hands. They tried to make him switch with the help of a stick at school and a belt at home. A month of whippings and the boy began to get used to doing everything with his right hand. But in the sand he continued to draw with his left hand. However almost no one except his mother noticed that the boy had become strange. His lively bazaar-like nature disappeared for a long time. He used to sit at length staring into space and talking to himself. By the time he reached his last couple of years in school his strangeness was noticed by everyone. And as time went on more and more, two very different personalities were living and developing separately in one body, in one mind. The real, authentic left-handed Anaxoron hid inside the right-handed version, which was the correct one for everyone else. They tried to treat him. In school there was only one joy for him - he could draw on paper. In school he drew with his right hand and at home, when nobody could see, with his left hand. He had a dream. He wanted to become an artist. Paintings do not care which hand creates them. He would be alone with the colors and his feelings.
That is how he grew up. Two separate identities growing up together. And nobody knew which would be the one to get up from bed on any given day.
When Anaxoron finished school, he left home. He was able to enter the academy of arts in Tashkent. And this is where the next chapter of his biography begins. Nobody could say now what brought the woman, the human rights advocate, from Hollandto Tashkent. However there she was and… she fell in love. Passionately. Fell in love with the tall, well-built man with the mannerisms of an overgrown child... and with his paintings. For good or for bad during the few days that Ursula, that was her name, spent in Tashkent, due to yet another twist of fate Anaxoron was exclusively left-handed and accordingly charming with the charisma of a seven-year old child. On top of all Anaxoron was tall and handsome, with the good looks of the East, so unusual for the fare-skinned, blonde Ursula. And his paintings, there were towers of the minarets melting into the heights on a colorful semi-abstract background, castles in the air surrounded by shadows with the outlines of human figures, delightful small houses emerging from the sand... all of this hadcreated the impression of a fairy tale.
Shortly they were young and in love with each other. The decision came quickly. She would marry him and take this Eastern wonder back home with her to Holland. He did not object. As a result six months later Anaxoron stood in the airport in Amsterdam holding his young wife by the hand.
When her parents learned about "their daughter's madness," a huge scandal had erupted. This "Oezbeek", they said, this crazy "Oezbeek"... In Dutch Uzbek sounds like "Oezbeek" and that is how they started to call him. Besides nobody could pronounce "Anaxoron," his Uzbek name.
The newlyweds started their life in Amsterdam. And Amsterdam also means marijuana. After smoking Anaxoron started his paintings with more passion.
And so it happened that Ursula's friends invited them to the first Jazz festival "North Sea" in theHague. This is how in 1976 Anaxoron went to the "Faya Lobbi Zaal" inthe Hague and saw a live performance by the "New Orleans Syncopators," and that was it, he was hooked. He understood that before that moment life had passed him by. Jazz took the place of everything for him. Food, drugs, and sleep – he lived for the several days of the festival in a delirium. He had not noticed that his wife and friends had left. He had not noticed anything around him except "His Majesty Jazz." And that latest turning point in his life gave birth to that artist whom all his admirers know today by his signature "Oezbeek."
"North Sea Jazz" became his religion. Beginning in 1976, when he turned 35, each year during three days in July for 32 years right up to his death, he would wander from one hall to another with a tiny palette in one pocket and 10 by 12 centimeter cardboard canvases in the other, and like someone possessed makes one sketch after another, several dozen sketches a day...
And then trembling over them, like a miser with his gold, for an entire year he created large paintings from those tiny pictures painstakingly recreating from memory, that mood in which he had painted those tiny canvases, with lightning speed at the concerts…
Under the influence of drugs he became unable to control his split personality. A large portion of his earlier works was lost or disappeared with the landlords from whom he rented rooms and with cafe and snack bar owners, whom he had no money to pay for. Only in July of 1998 the strange visitor to the jazz festival cought the eye of one of the famous Swiss "clock barons" who was in love with jazz and who had flown to The Hague to attend the festival.
The middle-aged man with piercing eyes, who rapidly painted a small cardboard canvas without looking away from the stage, caught his attention and he came closer.
What the "baron" saw astounded him. It was not just a lover of jazz, he saw in front of him the person who happened to make sketches. He was a great artist in love with jazz! In spite of the tiny size of the cardboard canvas, the artist had wonderfully rendered the image of a saxophonist putting his very soul into the melody he created.
The baron was not only a lover of jazz but an aficionado of the other arts as well. Inviting himself to the artist's home, he was even more shocked by the sheer number of beautiful paintings that portrayed famous and unknown, renowned and still unnoticed jazz musicians, playing, singing and giving their all for the audience.
The baron was lucky. During his first meeting with Oezbeek, he dealt only with the left-handed one and returned to Switzerland, assured that this great artist would conquer the world in a year's time with the baron's assistance. In the baggage compartment of the airplane were 28 paintings by Oezbeek – the beginning of his future collection of art about jazz.
Unfortunately, on the first day of his next visit he collided with a nightmare. Oezbeek simply did not recognize him and refused to speak with him. Nobody could explain to the baron that in front of him stood the right-handed Oezbeek whom the baron had never met...
Enormously offended, the baron left. Who knows how Oezbeek's life might have turned out if on that day he had been left-handed...
It was five years later in June in 2003 at the same festival before the baron again ran into Oezbeek. Turning away from the man who had so offended him, the baron heard a soft whisper behind his back, "Look, there he is, the crazy, schizophrenic painter." Intrigued, he approached closer to hear the conversation of two local jazz fans... and understood his mistake.
From 2003 on the baron met regularly with Oezbeek. He bought a large number of the artist's paintings. Understanding the two different persons Oezbeek represented, he bought paintings from the right-handed and the left-handed Oezbeek. Then he organized Oezbeek's first exhibit and invited all his friends. After that prices for Oezbeek's paintings began to increase rapidly. With the baron's very capable way of presenting the art very respected and wealthy individuals became regular buyers of Oezbeek's paintings.
So it happend that the last five years of the artist's life were the most comfortable and successful in spite of the rapid deterioration of his health. During weeks at a time Oezbeek did not leave his apartment and memory blackouts occurred more and more often.
Oezbeek died in June in 2008, three days after his beloved North Sea Jazz Festival ended. On his desk several dozen of 10 by 12 centimeter cardboard canvases remained which never became paintings.
So the prophecy of the mark he was born with was fulfilled. The artistOezbeek belongs to two worlds at the same time, the European and the Asian. Asia will forever remain his homeland, while Europe gave him the gift of jazz. Today his paintings of jazz musicians created by his left-handed essence are considered to be the best. Oezbeek was able to express the strength and power of jazz musicthrough art. And his paintings of castles in the air, of the eastern silk routes created by his right-handed essence are some of the most unusual manifestations of abstract art.
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