Kazakhstan: Modern Art

Daniel Gulegos is an American artist who is temporary in Almaty, Kazakhstan and he blogs at Travelpod. While in Kazakhstan, Daniel explores the Kazakh contemporary art, meeting and collaborating with the local artists.

I thought everyone would like to see what goes on at art openings here in Almaty. So, I’m posting some photos of the last show I was in at the beginning of December. I think you guys will be pleasantly surprised to see they don’t look or dress much different than a typical hipster at any art opening in San Francisco or New York.

Georgi Trakin-Bukarov

The night of this show was for the opening of the Seismograms exhibit at the Soros Center For Contemporary Arts. The show is about how artists should be critical of the government and the culture of Kazakhstan. Artists should be the plotter pen and paper on the Seismograms, bouncing and bobbing all over the place exposing the corruption of government and the new rich.

Malik Abyshev

Daniel writes that “major art institutions in Kazakhstan are trying to develop local Kazakh art to help build on the national identity. Soros Center, where Daniel also holds exhibitions, also helps foreign artists to work with locals. Many modern artists, according to Daniel, are successful with foreigners buying their works, which makes them produce art “that seem to be based on traditional Kazakh culture and their painting [and] use mid-20th century techniques often reminiscent of German Expressionism, French Fauvism, and Surrealism.”

It’s easy to come across galleries that are sort of Kazakh retailers/galleries that sell idealized scenes of yurts and horses and traditional scenes of the steppe. I’m surprised how much of this work is available. It’s no surprise to me that these artists sell a lot of their works. They subscribe to this aesthetic to satisfy the foreign market. But, this isn’t (to me) serious art, but it can be good if people identify this work as being merely decorative arts for people who want safe art that looks nice in their dental office waiting area.

It’s a great case study in how art can be influenced by market factors.


  • to bad kazachstan for most people now r connected with borat movie :/
    i am from kazachstan and i hate that movie

    anyway back to topic those idealized scenes of yurts and horses and traditional scenes of the steppe r awefull and so oldstyle, boring, imho it is not art…

  • Daniel

    Check out my new site:


    It is about the “Transformation of Space in Almaty”

    It’s a multi-media blog site that includes sound image and video.

    There isn’t anything like it in all of Kazakhstan!!

    We go micro not macro!!

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