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Giant Uzbek Painting Celebrates Pre-Islamic Culture

A promotional video presents a mock-up of the exhibition of Lekim Ibragimov's massive work in Prague.
A promotional video presents a mock-up of the exhibition of Lekim Ibragimov's massive work in Prague.
After more than two years of work, Lekim Ibragimov put the final touches this spring on an enormous undertaking -- spreading the unifying message of a famous collection of folk tales compiled during the Islamic Golden Age.

To bring the tales of "One Thousand and One Nights" to life, the Central Asian artist painted 1,000 individual canvases, each depicting an angel. Linked together, they create "Thousand Angels and One Painting," a work that, at more than 500 square meters, is vying for a Guinness World Record (see promotional video here).

"I had an immense pleasure in reading the book 'One Thousand and One Nights,' and in Uzbekistan we have a very important culture of murals. It was very popular before Islam," says Ibragimov, who was born in Kazakhstan and is now based in Uzbekistan.

"So there are two reasons that pushed me to begin this project: the first reason was the book 'One Thousand and One Nights,' and the second reason was tradition."

Ibragimov describes his 8-meter-high, 66-meter-long artwork as a representation of unity in diversity and diversity in unity.

Record Size

The large-scale painting is about to embark on a world tour to bring the artist's message of peace to a global audience.

The tour will start in Prague, where the painting will be exhibited from July 9 to July 21.

Ibragimov says that "Thousand Angels and One Painting" is to make stops in other places included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in Western Europe, the United States, and Japan.

The artist's son, Murad Ibragimov, is the head of the Global Event & Construction firm, a sponsor of the tour. He says the mega-painting has been submitted to the Guinness World Records Committee as "the world's largest painting consisting of 1,000 pieces."

"For the creation of the painting, whose size is 66-meters-high, we used around 3 tons of paint. We submitted applications for two records: for the Guinness Book of Records and, secondly, for the Record Book of Russia," the younger Ibragimov says.

PHOTO GALLERY: The Work Of Uzbek Artist Lekim Ibragimov

Central Asian Artist

Lekim Ibragimov was born in 1945 in the village of Kichik Dehan, in the Uygur district of southeastern Kazakhstan's Almaty region, to a family of schoolteachers.

After completing art school in Almaty, he attended the Tashkent Institute of Theater and Arts, where he graduated in 1978.

Ibragimov soon became a member of the Union of Artists of Uzbekistan and later of the Union of Artists of the Soviet Union.

In 1989, he took part in his first international art exhibit, in Luxembourg.

He became a member of the Uzbek Academy of Arts in 1999 and was awarded the title "People's Artist of Uzbekistan" two years later. He is also an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Arts.

Ibragimov has exhibited his work in a number of countries in Western Europe and Asia, and his work can now be found in museums in Tashkent, Almaty, Moscow, Novosibirsk, and Budapest.

Written by Antoine Blua, based on reporting by RFE/RL Uzbek Service correspondent Shukhrat Babadjanov

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