Baqi Urmance

Urmance Gabdelbaqi Idris uli (pronounced [urmanˈɕe ɣabˌdelʲbʌˈqɯɪ idˌrisuˈlɯ]), a.k.a. Baqi Urmance ([bʌˈqɯɪ urmanˈɕe]; Janalif: Baqi Urmance; Tatar Cyrillic: URMANCE BAKYI (GABDELBAKYI) IDRIS ULY; Russian: URMANCÉ BAKÍ (GABDELBAKÝI) IDRÍSOVIC, Urmanche Baki (Gabdelbaky) Idrisovich; 23 February 1897 – 6 August 1990) was a Tatar painter, sculptor and graphic artist, and a pedagogue. He received the following awards and titles: People’s Artist of Tatar ASSR (1960), People’s Artist of the Russian SFSR (1982), and laureate of the Gabdulla Tuqay Tatar ASSR State Prize (1967).

He was born on February 23, 1897, in Kul Cerkene, a village in the modern Buinsky District of Tatarstan as Gabdelbaqi Urmanciev. In 1907 the Urmancievs moved to Kazan, where Baqi entered Moxammadia madrassah. Studying at the madrassa, he became interested in Oriental languages and Tatar poetry. Gabdulla Tuqay’s poetry particularly impressed him. Other hobbies of his included drawing and playing the violin. However, Urmance failed to pass the entrance examinations for the Kazan Artist school, so in 1914 he began to work as a loader in the Urals and afterward in Siberia. In 1916, he was mobilized into the army. But his violin, pencil, and water-colors were always with him.

During the 1917 Russian Revolution Baqi became a soldier’s deputy. In 1918 the Kazan Art School was reformed into the Free Art and Technical Workshops and in 1919 he became a student. It was his cherished dream. The beginning of this program of study was a critical moment in his life. He studied sculpture with G. I. Kozlov, painting with V. K. Timofeyev, and drawing with N. S. Shikalov. After a short mobilization into the Red Army, he was detached to the Moscow VKhUTEMAS in 1920, where he studied on two faculties. He studied sculpture in Anna Golubkina’s workshop and drawing with A. Shevchenko. He also began to study at the Institute of Oriental Studies, where he improved his foreign language skills in Arabic, Turkish, and Persian, and began to study Western languages. Urmance returned to Kazan in 1926 where he became a teacher at the Kazan Artist Secondary school. He also took part in the reconstruction of the Kazan Art School. Between 1926 and 1929 he lectured at the school and worked in the areas of drawing, etching and illustration. Urmance attempted to restore the tradition of ceramic production in Kazan.

His successful work was interrupted in 1929, when he was arrested and exiled to the Solovki. However, in 1933 he was exempted ahead of time, came home for a short time in Kazan before leaving for Moscow, where he lived from 1934 to 1941. Urmance participated in the First All-Russia Exhibition of the Young Artists. The graphic products exposed by him were noticed and appreciated by the art-viewing public of the Soviet capital. Urmance became a member of the Moscow branch of Union of the Artists. Between 1937 and 1941 he was engaged in the creative task of decorating the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition. In 1940 the artist carried out a list of an outside surface of a drum of a dome of pavilion of the Bashkir ASSR. Urmance has managed to find the expressive decision, in which basis the idea of a round dance laid.

In 1941-1949 he was sent on administrative exile to Almaty and Semipalatinsk. There he worked on illustrations of Kazakh poets and writers Abay, M. Auezov, S. Muqanov, and a Kazakh language translation of Tuqay. In 1946 the government issued the Minus 39 decree, by which exiles were forbidden to come within a certain distance of cities. From the next twelve years Baqi Urmance lived in Central Asian cities: Samarqand, Toshkent, Almaty and Balkhash. Urmance portrayed many Central Asian individuals in his work and painted many Central Asian landscapes. In 1952 he designed the House of Culture for the Balkhash Copper-Smelting Factory. Between 1949 and 1958 he lived in the Uzbek capital, working at the Toshkent Theatre and Art Institute. In 1956 he organized the sculpture department there.

1958 was the most significant date in Urmance’s creative destiny. After a long absence, he moved to Kazan and began a constant residence. He was already sixty years old.

There is a remarkable art heritage for him. The people of Tatarstan carefully revere the memory of the man who represented an entire epoch in the development of the art culture of the Tatar people. He died at the age of 93 on August 6, 1990. He was fully exonerated and buried in the Yana-Tatar Bistase (Novotatarskoye) cemetery in Kazan.

A monument to Urmance was erected in 1996, the museum in Kazan has been in operation since 1998.

Paintings: Near the separator (1928), triptych Tatarstan (1976, 1985), Saltiq Meadow (1979); sculpture: Grief (1966), Spring Melodies (1968), Tulpar (1968); portraits of Tatar cultural workers, memorial complex of Gabdulla Tuqay in village of Qirlay (1976), graphic illustration on poetry of Dardamand ham Tuqay (1954-1968); the first manual of artistic education in the Tatar language (Moscow, 1924), several articles on art.