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Sainkho Namtchylak «Sounds of the Upper World»
05.03.10 - 27.03.10

Once Peter Gabriel, the founder of the Real World Studio, said: "No one would know what Tuva is, if not Sainkho ". She is perhaps the only world-class artist who managed to combine organically Tuvinian throat singing "khoomei" with the vanguard jazz improvisation. Sainkho Namtchylak refers to the ancient vocal techniques, ethnic music of Siberia and the North and practices Tibetan two-voice polyphony, along with the latest techniques of musicianship, including free-jazz vocal style. She is experimenting with electronics and different styles, combining modern digital technology with archaic tools and methods of performing. In December 2009 Sainkho Namtchylak was awarded the title People's Artist of the Republic of Tuva.

Shamans heal people from physical and mental diseases. But at the same time, shaman is "a person of art" – a singer, a poet and an artist. His art is syncretic: he uses sound, shape, color, movement as a tool to achieve a common goal - access to the "subtle realms" and ability to bring us the information of which he is a conduit.

In this sense shamanism is not unique: the spiritual and aesthetic components can be identified in any tradition or religion.

Subtle realms of shamanism are divided into the lower realm - the one of spirits, the upper realm - the one of the gods and the middle realm - the one of earthly spirits. Shaman is able to travel in all three realms, but more often he has a "specialization", depending on which of the realm’s spirits help him in his work. In this case, the notion of upper and lower realms of shamanism is not connected with the confrontation between good and evil. The sun symbolizes the upper realm, the moon - the lower realm. In throat singing low notes are related to the lower realm, the uppercase sounds correspond to the upper realm.

It is in Tuvinian shamanism that the roots of painting and music of Sainkho Namtchylak are found. The distance between the tradition and its modern embodiment in case of Sainkho is minimal: Eastern traditions have survived in the less distorted way than the Western ones. What Sainkho Namtchylak makes in the visual field is not a pure shamanism. The author uses only the aesthetic side of it, its "art-function", while touching inadvertently the other part of shamanism as well - spirituality and healing.

For most modern people, morning coffee or tea is, of course, a ritual. With her paintings Sainkho Namtchylak makes this ritual complete through the technique that she uses. Her paintings are made with tea, coffee, yogurt on paper and on goat skins, and themes correspond to the rock paintings - petroglyphs, which are traditionally performed by the shaman’s hand. Elena Vrublevskaya gallery shows new paintings, as well as several shaman tambourines made by Sainkho. The author’s music is a valuable part of the exposition: specifically for "Sounds of the Upper World" the limited edition of new vinyl discs of Sainkho is issued. This music will sound in the exhibition hall, and the disk will be applied to each picture. The exhibition coincides with a series of concerts and master classes on overtone singing.

Performance of Sainkho Namtchylak at the opening of the exhibition:


See also:
Event, March 2010
Photo - V.Orehov