Exploring the Arts in Kyrgyzstan

Yuristanbek Shigaev is Head of the Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Arts, a renowned person that represents Kyrgyzstan on the world art arena. Mr. Shigaev and his works once again confirm that art doesn’t have any limits. His works are splashes of colors and symbols; they reveal Kyrgyz culture to the world. Purchased by many museums all around the world, such as State Tretyakov Gallery of Russia, Museum of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Museum of Modern Art in Toronto, Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul, etc., his works are also parts of private collections in Europe, the U.S. and Asia.

art1 Mr. Shigaev says that every artist must have a classical art background and then find his own niche in the kingdom of art. He received his classical art background at Ilya Repin St. Petersburg State Academic Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture and found his own “I” in the art world where legend and myths not only of Kyrgyzstan, but of all nations become the shared conscience of the world.

In the Photo: Yuristanbek Shigaev is Head of the Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Arts in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. 

Mr. Shigaev has his own patented art style. He created a scroll, made of rough burlap impregnated with gelatin and covered with acrylic, he uses only Dutch paints that don’t crack if the scroll is rolled, therefore they can be easily carried around.


His inspiration for came from the Japanese tradition of poetry written on scrolls, and from the artist’s own nomadic roots that required people to transport their whole house (Kyrgyz traditional yurt) on a horse. For someone who must carry 40-50 pieces of art every time there is an exhibition it is truly an innovative approach.

Mr. Shigaev is a very busy person, but we are extremely happy he agreed to share with us his point of view on art in Kyrgyzstan and his own works.

“My works have absorbed the variety of symbols of the Great Silk Road that united people of Eurasia with the strong silk thread of the caravan trade, national diplomacy and culture. The spirit of my ancestors persistently calls me. In the very beginning of my journey I’ve tried many different manners and techniques, but when I met the petroglyphs of Saimaluu-Tash (Saimaluu Tash is a petroglyph site in Jalal-Abad Province, Kyrgyzstan) and Japanese calligraphy on silk, I knew what my choice was! In the general atmosphere, in the stories, in the characters of petroglyphs I find a consonance to the contemporary culture.

I have the blood of nomads flowing in me, thus giving me a very close feeling of the ancestors. Therefore, my work is inspired by the ancient myths of eastern nomadic culture.

For a full mindmap behind this article with articles, videos, and documents see #kyrgyzstan

I want the audience to find a way to understand the tradition of their ancestors. Like a storyteller I introduce the audience to the ethnic and philosophical symbolism behind which there lies an ocean of knowledge about nature, man, cosmos.


Upon receiving its status of a sovereign state, Kyrgyzstan has experienced a lot of difficulties associated with the collapse of the old institutional forms of art, the formation of the market economy, etc. But finally, art in Kyrgyzstan has received its absolute freedom of expression. Nowadays, contemporary art in Kyrgyzstan bears in itself a respect for tradition, openness to everything new, secularity, internationalism, humanism, patriotism and a strong civil position.

The institute of Kyrgyz art has absorbed numerous phenomena while preserving its own identity; local artists work in different directions, in different forms of art, and their work is very multifaceted. At the heart of the Kyrgyz artists lies an in-depth work on the expressiveness of plastic forms, interest in the relevant aspects of life, the pursuit by all the means of art to create a bright, imaginative and poetic chronicle of the spiritual revival of the people.”

Painting: Celebration of Muslim holiday Eid, 2009, canvas acrylic


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Special thanks to Mr. Shigaev, Head of the Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Arts and his staff for providing information and photos.

Featured Image: Flickr/Art Gallery ErgsArt

About the Author /

Alima Arbudu is from Kyrgyzstan. For several years lived in UAE and India. Spent her last 9 years in Beijing, China. Holds Master degree in International Relations from Tsinghua University with the focus on Chinese Politics. Holds LL.B. in Chinese Law. Has concerns for human rights, religious prejudice and environment protection. Enjoys meeting people from diverse cultural backgrounds and dreams of travelling the whole world. Has passion for learning languages and international cuisine. Find more from Alima on www.thingser.com

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