Insights

Due to relocation, ART beyond borders is currently closed. Please feel free to browse the pages for information. Alibay Bapanov now has his own Facebook page, so you can contact him directly in case you are inspired by his works!

Every work of art tells a story, but not necessarily the same story to every observer. Here is a collection of insights, explanations, testimonials and points of view on a number of the tapestries featured on this site. Should you perceive things quite differently, that’s wonderful and actually to be expected. As Alibay once said when asked about a specific element of ‘Heaven on Earth’: “If that’s what you see, then that’s what it is. I don’t like to be explicit – explicit is boring!”

Enjoy exploring!

‘Night Archer’

One of three monumental new tapestries, ‘Night Archer’ unites black and white, tension and serenity, ethnicity and universal validity harmoniously.  Ascetic in its color composition, the piece derives its drama from the seamless background gradation, one of the finest examples of the Bapanovs’ exceptional mastery of this technique.

‘Creeping Time’

The bold color contrast and graphic abstraction of ‘Creeping Time’ create a striking image of futility of time and inevitability of change. This second grand scale tapestry could not be more different from ‘Night Archer’, but generates the same magnetic attraction that makes the eye explore and discover ever surprising new details and nuances.

‘Crazy about Green’

The third tapestry in the grand series is a playful dance of nature, people and technology around a Tree of Life, creating an aura of energy, exuberance and harmony.  If ‘Night Archer’ represents the serene, and ‘Creeping Time’ the philosophical, ‘Crazy about Green’ is sure to make the observer smile.

‘Heaven on Earth’

Another truly magnetic piece is this rendition of an earthly paradise, complete with children playing, people walking their dogs, reading a paper, drinking from a fountain – or whatever else the observer might spot around the majestic, stately trees. ‘Heaven on Earth’ almost seems too heavy a title for this delightful masterpiece. Indeed, the reaction of one client’s 5-year old daughter was: “Oh, look, popsicles!”

‘Travelling Garden’

The nomadic journey is a recurring theme in the Bapanovs’ work. As in previous works like ‘Journey’, the camel as a means of transportation towards fertile pastures is revered as a source of prosperity and abundance. Here it is shown to carry on its back all forms of life: plant, animal and human.

‘Fateful Weavings’

In this powerful depiction of the story of Forbidden Fruit, the figures of Adam and Even seem to be intertwined with the tree, becoming part of the pattern of its branches. The connectedness of the human figures with the tree, as well as the curious absence of the snake, raise the eternal question of guilt: who’s to blame? Judging by their faces - turned squarely away from each other - the answer seems to lie in a breakdown of communication. 

‘Aksay River’

White water rushing through a rocky ravine, captured in a wall sculpture of rolled  felt and polished stones. The rustic felt and patterned stones give the piece an archaic aura, but in its simplicity, it is ultimately modern and fresh.

‘Green Land’, ‘Brown Land’, chiy

‘Green Land’ and ‘Brown Land’ are two fine examples of a technique called “chiy”, or reed mat.  Stalks of reed are wrapped in un-spun wool and then joined together by string or plant fiber to produce a pattern. In the Yurta, the traditional nomadic round tent, chiy were used as a layer of insulation in the walls or under bed mats, or as room dividers for the women’s part of the tent. Chiy patterns are immensely difficult and labor-intensive to produce, and in the nomadic clans, the senior Chiy-pattern maker was highly regarded.

Saule and Alibay’s modern interpretations of this ancient craft draw power from the juxtaposition of centuries-old techniques and contemporary design.

‘Day-Night’, ‘Steppe Dreams’, baskur

These narrow tapestries are modern interpretations of carpet bands, “baskur”, that were used to weigh and tie down the roof of the yurta, the nomadic tent. Both ‘Day-Night’ and ‘Steppe Dreams” are improvisations, meaning tapestries woven without a cartoon (the preparatory drawing that becomes the template for a tapestry).

‘Day-Night’ pays tribute to the black and white contrasting patterns of traditional Kazakh syrmaks (felt carpets).

‘Steppe dreams’ three vertical color bands are reminiscent of the colors of the Central Asian steppe and earth tones, rolling hills and silvery reeds.

‘Enchanted Flight’, felt

Silk voile has been applied on a heavy felt base, giving it an almost leathery texture. The film-like gauze veils and mystifies the winged creature taking flight.

‘Mysterious Reflections’, felt

Reminiscent of ancient stone paintings, the depiction of these boats and their passengers seems to come right out of Plato’s cave parable, appearing like shadowy reflections of a distant, mysterious journey that took place in a different reality a long time ago.
‘Mysterious reflections’ is another impressive masterpiece that draws its validity from a combination of traditional skills and materials with avant-garde artistic expression to build a bridge from cultural heritage to modern art.

‘Yellow Mountains’

‘Sary-Arka’ evokes the yellow and beige pastel shades of the Kazakh steppe. Originating from this vast, majestic landscape are the semi-precious polished stones - agate, onyx, rose quartz, tiger’s-eye and others – that have been applied here for the first time. The use of stones marks a bold step from two-dimensional wall-art into the third dimension, transcending the boundary to sculpture.

‘Eternity’

‘Eternity’ is the only tapestry that features a sculpted rim, which allows a rare glimpse into the warp and weft structure of the weaving. The refinement and accuracy of the rim and its flawless transition into this elaborate interpretation of the universe shaped as a budding Lotus flower make even the tapestry novice appreciate the outstanding craftsmanship at work here.

‘Moon of Fortune’

‘Moon of Fortune’ is a very magical piece, despite it’s almost naïve simplicity. The bull symbolizes prosperity and wealth; the hill, like ‘Mountain of the World’, serenity and wholeness. Alibay and Saule consider ‘Kyt-Ai’ as one of the pivotal pieces of their artistic development.

‘Sacred Tree’

‘Sacred Tree’ has also been called ‘Tree of Life’ (‘Drevo Zhisni’), as it bears on its branches all animals of the land, sea and air, as well as a woman in a boat and a man on a horse. It is crowned by a Bird of Paradise. It has been executed on turquoise and white background, however, the black variant shown here is the most powerful rendition.

‘Mirage’

Originally called ‘Down the River’, ‘Mirage’ seems to inspire different impressions in different people. Some see the silhouette of a distant oriental settlement observed from a boat, some see a still life of fruit in a goblet, some an illusion of things imagined in the hot desert sun. To everyone, though, it offers a moment of reflection and tranquility.

‘Journey’

With its Kazakh national colors, turquoise and yellow, ‘Journey’ is without doubt one of the Bapanovs’ most ethnic works. The camel was of tremendous importance to the Kazakh nomads, offering not only a means of transportation, but also a source of milk and water, wool and felt, meat and tools. In reverence of the ancient nomadic traditions, the camel is shown here to carry all life in its body, by day and by night.

‘Physician’

“The tapestry is often the first thing our patients comment on in our offices. Everybody is amazed by its beauty and uniqueness, and of course by the fact that it has both my husband’s and my initials on it!”

Elisabeth G., Mering, Germany.
‘Physician’ was a custom order for the opening of her and her husband’s medical practice.

‘Lady Knight’

“I was immediately drawn to the aura of Lady Knight, she seems so serene and at peace with the world. And the two children with her are so adorable – just like my two girls.”

Deb M., New York, USA.

‘Contemplation’

“Our tapestry graces our hallway and offers a happy moment of inner peace and reflection each time I walk past it.”

Reinhold W., Germany, owner of Rasdum’e.

‘Wolf’

“Alibay made Wolf for me after we met in 2002. He is so incredibly observing, from just one dinner at my home, he understood my fascination with this amazing animal. And he created a simple yet dynamic piece that captures the beauty and power of this magical beast.”

John L., New York, USA.

‘Eternity’

“Eternity is such a strong statement piece, and yet it blends in so effortlessly with its surroundings. Its calm serenity never ceases to amaze me. It warms our home in so many ways.”

Dorothee S., Bensheim, Germany.


wagner@artbeyondborders.com