art person
Text: Irina Pivkina, Editor-in-Chief, art critic
The Illusion of Home
In our youth, the urge to leave home and explore the world is powerful. We seek adventure, new experiences, and the unknown. As we grow older, however, we often find ourselves yearning for the familiarity of our childhood home. Our memories tend to romanticize this place, presenting it as warm, safe, and happy. Yet, this is merely an illusion. We cannot reclaim the past; everything changes, and as Heraclitus wisely noted, "You cannot step into the same river twice." This concept is central to Zalkar Toktogulov's series, which explores the ephemeral nature of home and the haunting allure of our past.
Artistic Reflection on Forced Migration
Today's world is marked by displacement. Natural disasters, economic crises force people to leave their homes and seek new places to live. In this context, the search for home becomes even more poignant. Toktogulov's paintings resonate deeply with these contemporary stories of displacement, reflecting the universal human quest to find a new place to call home.

Toktogulov's Personal Journey

Zalkar Toktogulov's series began in 2014 in the village of Teriberka in the Murmansk region. His travels through various locations and the homes he encountered along the way provide a narrative that is both personal and universal, capturing stories of loss, memory, and identity.
"Second Five-Year Plan": This painting depicts a house that was once vibrant, filled with laughter, conversations, and music. It embodied a belief in a promising future, a beacon of hope and community spirit. The house's walls once echoed with the sounds of daily life, from children playing to families sharing meals. Now, it stands alone and enigmatic, a shadow of its former self. The empty windows and decaying structure symbolize the passage of time and the fragility of human aspirations. Two months after Toktogulov's departure, the house was demolished, erasing a piece of history and leaving only memories behind.
"Second Five-Year Plan 2": Another house in the village shares the same fate, symbolizing the transient nature of homes and the inevitability of change. This house, too, was once filled with life and promise. Its current state of abandonment and disrepair reflects the broader themes of loss and impermanence that permeate Toktogulov's work. The fate of these houses serves as a poignant reminder that no matter how strong the foundations, the forces of change are inescapable.
Composition No. 5: In Belgium, Toktogulov encountered a house that stood against a gray sky. Its red brick, darkened by moisture and overgrown with shrubbery, caught his attention. The contrast between the vibrant red of the bricks and the encroaching greenery symbolizes the tension between human creation and nature's reclamation. The house's decay tells a story of neglect and the passage of time, evoking a sense of melancholy and beauty in ruin. This blend of colors and the house's state of disrepair made a lasting impression on Toktogulov, highlighting the inevitable decline that all man-made structures face.
Composition No. 2: This piece delves into the artist's contemplation on the feeling of longing when away from one's birthplace. Toktogulov captures the sense of displacement and yearning that many feel when separated from their roots. The artwork depicts a simple, yet poignant scene that evokes the universal human experience of nostalgia. Upon returning to our place of origin, we often feel that something is missing. It seems that nothing has changed, yet we have changed. The landscape may remain familiar, but our perception of it is altered by our experiences. This artwork captures the essence of searching for our childhood in memories, finding a home filled with joy that exists primarily in our minds.
Composition No. 4: Reflecting on the constant search for home, this piece underscores the idea that even when we return to our roots, we may not find the peace we seek. The artwork portrays a house that is both familiar and alien, symbolizing the dissonance between our memories and reality. The past, though seemingly unchanged, cannot provide the comfort we yearn for in the future. Toktogulov's painting illustrates the inevitable changes that occur over time, both in the places we remember and within ourselves. It suggests that the true meaning of home is not a fixed location but a state of mind that we must continuously redefine.

The Intersection of Memory and Reality

Toktogulov's series offers a profound commentary on the human condition, exploring the complex interplay between memory, identity, and the search for home. His paintings serve as a poignant reminder that while we may long for the past, the future demands that we forge new paths and redefine our understanding of what home truly means. Through his art, Toktogulov invites us to reflect on our own journeys, the places we've left behind, and the homes we hope to find.
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