Nurlan Smagulov will show his favorite paintings to the people of Kazakhstan

A well-known Kazakhstani businessman will open an exhibition of works from his personal collection in the ForteBank Kulanshi ArtSpace gallery

Нурлан Смагулов

Human-being and Patron of Art

Nurlan Smagulov, an entrepreneur, is known in Kazakhstan not only as an author of bright and successful business projects such as MEGA shopping malls and Astana Motors auto centers, but also he is a patron and connoisseur of the arts. For example, the businessman was one of the initiators of a Kazakhstani arts prize «Tarlan”; his company became a sponsor of the construction of a new stage of the ARTiSHOCK theatre; for a long time he has successfully cooperated with the sculptor Eduard Kazaryan, whose remarkable works can be seen in the MEGA-centers.

Besides, many people know Nurlan Smagulov as a passionate collector who collects paintings and sculptures of the Kazakhstani artists of various years. The businessman says: if at first collecting paintings for him was an emotional and sometimes spontaneous hobby, later after five years of collecting, purchases became more meaningful and target-oriented.

«The status of a collector is valuable for me not only for the expression of my own, perhaps subjective interests, but it is also an opportunity to trace the «small” history of the fine arts of our country. In addition to it, after spending a lot of time looking for new art works, I have learned a lot about the lives of the artists in whom I am interested in; it seems to me that I started understanding better the time in which they lived. Fortunately, I still managed to purchase some of the works of these artists,” says the businessman about his longtime hobby.

Land of Masters

Today, the art experts assess the art collection of the businessman as one of the largest collection in Central Asia. Like Peggy Guggenheim and Pavel Tretyakov, Nurlan Smagulov collects the works so carefully as if collecting pearls for a «necklace” in order to admire it together with other people. His goal is to preserve in his homeland fine examples of artwork of his renowned or less renowned fellow countrymen. Besides, over the years, the entrepreneur has been actively exhibiting the works of his collection: he is eager to share the works of the artists with his compatriots and with the world. Fortunately, Kazakhstan has always been rich in talented artists.

Салихитдин Айтбаев, «На целине. Обед», 1960

Salikhitdin Aitbayev, «In the wildlands. Lunch”, 1960

It is possible to trace the stages of the development of Kazakhstan’s fine art in different periods in the collection of Nurlan Smagulov. Here you can find high-quality works of almost all major historical periods and representatives of Kazakhstan’s fine art. The works of the artists of the sixties are something special, including the works of such painters as Salikhitdin Aitbayev, Shaimardan Sariyev, Abdrashit Sydykhanov, Tokbolat Togyzbayev, and Bakhtiyar Tabiyev; Isatay Isabayev, Makum Kisamedinov (graphic painters); Yerkin Mergenov (a sculptor).

The collector was personally acquainted with some artists.

«I am truly grateful for meeting such artists as Eduard Kazaryan, Almagul Menlibayeva, Askar Yesdauletov, Dulat Aliyev, Askar Yesenbayev, Andrey Noda, and many others,” said Nurlan Smagulov. Each of them, through their unique individual style in painting and sculpture, has expanded my understanding of the richness of the language of contemporary art. I am happy that I was acquainted with the talented artist Abdrashit Sydykhanov who supported our Tarlan Award in the area of art. For me, he became the embodiment of a Kazakh great artist forever. Until the last moment of his life, I enjoyed communicating with this nice person.”

First I got to like and then I bought

A collection is not just a few beautiful and interesting pictures on the walls, it is an interest to the work of contemporaries, an extraordinary character, taste, courage, and independent aesthetic judgments of the collector. Nurlan Smagulov says that he first fell in love with each work from his collection, and then he bought them. Without this, probably, it is not possible to become an art patron and a collector with a soul.

The businessman admits: it would be difficult for him and even impossible to create a collection without participation, support of his family members, and first of all, without his muse — Madina Smagulova. The life partner of the businessman was sensitive, treating the passion of Nurlan Smagulov with understanding and patience. His hobby has never caused a feeling of jealousy in Madina, and over time she has shared this passion.

«When I was getting to know the works of Serenzhab Baldano, I will never forget how she brought his sculpture from Moscow, having spent all the money that she had,” recalls the collector. He emphasizes that Madina Smagulova has always treated artistic skills with enthusiasm, sincere interest, and warmth.

Жанатай Шарденов, «Высоко в горах», 1972

Zhanatay Shardenov, «High in the Mountains”, 1972

A special place for a special exhibition

One can see the works from Nurlan Smagulov’s collection as of September 27 when an exhibition will be opened in the ForteBank Kulanshi ArtSpace gallery in Astana. The choice of the place for such an exhibition was not random: the gallery was created for the sake of developing art and increasing the cultural level of the Kazakhstani people. For the first time, ForteBank Kulanshi ArtSpace opened its doors on October 20, 2016 in the building of the head office of ForteBank, and for two years it had become a unique platform of the country where residents and guests of the capital enjoyed the masterpieces of famous Kazakhstani artists.

In the collection of the ForteBank gallery Kulanshi ArtSpace there are works of contemporary fine art of Kazakhstan. Most of the collection’s paintings were bought by the bank abroad and returned to Kazakhstan. Thus, ForteBank like Nurlan Smagulov, invests in the development and preservation of the rich cultural heritage of Kazakhstan.

Residents and guests of the capital can freely visit the gallery and get acquainted with the art works. It is a rare opportunity to see wonderful art pieces.

ForteBank Kulanshi ArtSpace

ForteBank Kulanshi ArtSpace

In search of paintings

As for Nurlan Smagulov’s collection, the works of Zhantay Shardenov will be displayed in the ForteBank Kulanshi ArtSpace at the end of September. The art experts describe his artistic skills as follows: «The layer of colors in his paintings is a mixture of rapid lines, stripes, streams, soft and firm zigzags, commas, and spirals. And inside each color touch of the paintbrush there are subtle combinations of shades emerging from moving tenderness of feelings. Shardenov’s emotional paintings find an adequate response in the soul of his admirer.”

You can see the works of Pavel Salzman, whose watercolors are characterized by classical clarity of forms and «silence” of the surface. Despite the color in his paintings is multi-layered, lightness and transparency of watercolors are preserved. By the way, Nurlan Smagulov specially traveled to the artist’s daughter in Israel to return many of his works to Kazakhstan, to the country that became the second homeland for the artist since his evacuation during the Great Patriotic War.

There are many works of printed graphics created by outstanding Kazakhstani artists in Nurlan Smagulov’s collection. It is a great pleasure for an observer to see them. It was decided to show the works that exist only in a single copy at the exhibition. Each work is unique, and together they create a multi-sided and at the same time a well-rounded image of our life.