№ 1 / Moscow HIGHLANDER / William Mainland 2002

«What is gained in
freedom is lost in order»
/Pablo Picasso/

From early childhood retina of the artist’s eye and his subconscious bear an imprint of the immense panorama of mountains; his flesh and blood are impregnated with the sense of boundless space, the sound of wind, the smell of the smoke from his home hearth, once called by a poet the «smoke of the motherland»…

Nowadays instead of mountains and boundless space huge buildings and structures of the Russian capital surround Gazali-Debir. It is significant that he is dwelling in a semi-basement studio right under their multi-ton bulk. And perhaps due to this contrast — mountains in childhood and a city in mature years — the art of Izrailov is so contradictory that it is practically impossible to unite it into a single whole. More over even such an integral art as painting brakes down in his work into figurative and purely realistic, on the one hand, and speculative endowed with burdensome aesthetics of Surrealism, on the other hand. In this case the term «burdensome Surrealism» can be applied not only to the works of our artist who found himself in the field of force of a huge megalopolis. Surrealism is burdensome in its nature as an art of irrational dreams and visions, and the amorphous plastic frequently suppressing the consciousness. Admirers of this style can name scores of great Surrealists who worked in the just gone 20th century — Salvador Dali, Reasnais Magrit, Jorgio de Cirico, Max Ernst, etc. However this list of great artists will in principle change nothing in the nature of this phenomenon resulting from the destructive century of world wars, revolutions, scientific discoveries and other events deforming the human consciousness and heart.

In 1996 in his short autobiographical article «Author about himself» Izrailov wrote, «Different themes interest me, war being one of them. Human laws lie between morals and immorality and to my great regret, for 20 ages of the new era people have not learnt to avoid bloodshed. That is why all «aggressive» part of my work is directed against wars and dictate ( «20th Gorgona», «Divorce», «Big Head», «20th History»…). Yet there are not the oral declarations of the artist (rarely heard by the observers) that matter much but his works proper — paintings and series of drawings. Only by them we can judge about humanistic or anti-humanistic trends of his creations.

The «aggressive» part is prevailing in Izrailov’s painting of the late 80s and early 90s and the four program pictures mentioned by the artist do not differ much in their plastic and the manner of depiction from the pictures which in essence could hardy pretend to aggressiveness («Rose», «Brilliance», «Turkey», «Breaking», «Babuli», «Opposition», etc.). The expressive manner of painting and drawing itself seems to possess enough inertia to carry the artist away to that «aggressive road of self-expression». And in this case it is not very important What he wants to depict. The decisive factor is How he is doing it.

It is interesting that as soon as Izrailov returns to purely Daghestan reality («Archi», «My Daghestan») or to neutral themes of peaceful life common to all mankind (“Blooming», «Pan», «Big Doll», «Graphia») all his expressive vortexes and linear fractures fade away or become smooth and rounded and only the color tensity especially that of the cold part of the spectrum almost always remains active.

I do not believe that an artist living in a big city completely looses the ability for calm and harmonic expression of his feelings and thoughts. And the majority of Izrailov’s drawings confirms it. The energy of violent passions the artist is possessed by equally manifests itself in his drawings and he does not deem it necessary to deliberately smooth them. But significant is the fact that in the long run the artist’s drawings turn to be more acute due to the absence of open color and more accurate development of light and darks gradation. The artist is more delicate while working with paper. In this case the material itself disciplines the artist’s hand and the sparkling silver structure of the image is perceived with more precision («Passion», «Freedom», «Dance», «King of the People», «Billiards», «City», «Fashion», «Pillar» …, saying nothing of purely realistic serene landscapes (“Tzuntinka”, “Montcerat” and numerous drawings from nature created in Daghestan, Middle Russia or abroad). And it is not a matter of preference of one kind of art to the other. Izrailov’s painting and drawing form an integral field of his multifaceted attitude. And being a professional observer I cannot help feeling more integrity and concentration coming from his autolithographs and draughtsmanship itself, from their more vivid light bearing nature and ornamental rhythm. Perhaps some peculiar positive atavism and his subconscious ancestral sense of antiquity pertaining to the Daghestan plastic manifest themselves in his drawings.

According to the well known poetic formula of Boris Pasternak directed to a creative personality «…you should distinguish not your triumph from defeat…» the artist himself cannot always judge whether he succeeded or failed. Neither has he the right to fully entrust the others or even His Majesty Time with the selection of his works. In any case only he himself is the main builder of his art and which of his works will be in demand is a mystery that no one can unravel in advance.

Besides easel paining Izrailov is purposefully working in a diversity of spheres. Yet as he himself admits painting and drawing remain the most favorite ones. Why? Apparently there he can fully depend only on himself and not on «commissions» or other circumstances arising from people’s tastes and predilections, materials and technical aspects of production.

Gazali-Debir Izrailov came from a mountain aul (a village in Daghestan) and though now he is realizing his vocation of an artist in Moscow, fortunately, he does not forget that one’s «… birth place is the center of the Universe». «Cherish it!», says the artist to himself and to all of us. And it means that both centrifugal and centripetal forces are still preserved in him. So we, observers, have a gleam of hope that there will be peace in his heart and his creations and that the harmony of mountains will triumph…