Nostalgia for the Roots. Dashi Namdakov’s Universe of the Nomads
26 February 2010, in association with Dashi Namdakov’s Art Workshop and with the support of Atomenergomash, OJSC, the opening of an exhibition of Dashi Namdakov, a renowned modern Buryat artist and sculptor, was held within the context of masterpieces of the State Hermitage’s archeological collection.
The exhibition (Room Nos. 26, 27 of the Winter Palace) features over 100 pieces of artwork, including the bronze sculpture, graphic art and jewelry items.
The exhibition of Dashi Namdakov’s artwork follows the tradition of demonstrating modern art at the State Hermitage within the context of the museum’s collections and represents an indisputable fact of the sculptor’s acknowledgement. Boris Piotrovsky, in his time, pointed out that “a typical feature of the culture history is a mandatory use and review of cultural heritage of previous periods… Monuments of “primitive” art, to some extent, appeared to be consonant with the artists’ interests… The primordial art had both the simplicity of forms and the communication of signs in depicting people, animals and plants”. Presentation of Dashi Namdakov’s artwork among the Hermitage’s masterpieces of archeology is an attempt to compare modern and ancient art.
Dashi Namdakov is a modern artist in terms of the form interpretation, his overall perception of the world and vision of the environment. His artwork confirms that, despite the conventional wisdom, the visual art has not worked out its potential opportunities yet. However his artwork explicitly exposes the images of ancient world that are smoothly woven into his art concept. Old eastern mythology and historical realities inherent to his compositions bring about associations of a belligerent and severe world of ancient nomads and Mongols along with the world that was governed by its harmony of forms and dynamics, and its artistic perception of the environment.
Two components of Dashi Namdakov’s artwork are clearly traceable: the excellent professional school and the images of ancient cultures of the East as a source of inspiration. This equally applies to his sculpture, graphic art and small plastic art of jewelry. Ages are echoed in Namdakov’s images featuring the Scythian and Siberian beast style and the Mongolian plastic art, the Japanese graphic art and the medieval sculpture. The artist’s artwork manifested and combined century-old traditions of the European and Asian art, featuring both the Scythian and Sarmatian art, the impact of the Hunnian art, and the art of nomadic Turks of the later period.
Among the highlights of the artist’s artwork is an extraordinary combination of traditions of visual art and art techniques of the East and Europe. Dashi’s sculpture and graphic art is an embodiment of traditional images of the steppe and Asian civilizations such as warriors and horsemen, Buddhist lama priests and Siberian shamans, and totemic animals and mythological creatures as generic guardians of the Buryat people. The plots of his artwork, traceable from the Eastern beliefs and legends, are conveyed through modern European plastic art. Dashi’s jewelry items are made as historical “artifacts”. Due to a wide choice of materials Dashi Namdakov was instrumental is using not only precious metals but also a mamoth’s tusk and precious stones. Dashi’s precious stone working techniques largely contradict the modern canons of jewelry but the artist treats these stones as merely the material for imaging.
Many parallels that we find in Dashi Namdakov’s artwork are unconscious, with no repetition but merely reminiscences of ancient cultures. Today the craftsman has opportunities to work in different countries, with his workshop based in Italy. Dashi’s artwork exposes new and unexpected images, unknown in the Eastern myths.
A scientific catalog was prepared for the exhibition. The exhibition is overseen by Yury Piotrovsky, Senior Research Associate, Deputy Head of the State Hermitage’s Department for Archeology of the Eastern Europe and Siberia.