Kazakh painter, Karipbek Kuyukov, a victim of nuclear radiation,  showcases works at Expo2020

Kazakh painter, Karipbek Kuyukov, a victim of nuclear radiation, showcases works at Expo2020

Dubai: Karipbek Kuyukov, the world-renowned Kazakh painter, who paints with his lips and toes being a victim of nuclear radiation, is showcasing his oeuvre at the Kazakh Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Thousands of visitors to the Kazakhstan Pavilion were able to see the experiences of Kuyukov and many other Kazakhstanis through his art. His art is a significant part of the anti-nuclear movement in Kazakhstan, and it is a symbol of the anti-nuclear era of the country.

Kuyukov’s paintings are part of private and public collections the world over, and he is the only artist in the world whose creativity focuses on the topic of nuclear tests and the Semipalatinsk test site, also known as `The Polygon,’ the Soviet testing site for nuclear weapons. 

“Kuyukov’s art is a symbol of the anti-nuclear era of Kazakhstan, and the universal message of humanity and peace his works reflect has been attracting thousands of visitors to the Kazakh pavilion,” said Yerzhan Yerkinbaev, Vice Minister of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan, who heads the tourism department.

“The artist doesn’t want his disability to define him and prevent him from practicing his art to show the world the devastation nuclear can cause. His paintings are an open window to the miseries of people, many of them whom he knew from his childhood, who suffered from nuclear radiation, invoking human pain, doom, fear, and powerlessness,” added Yerkinbaev.

Kuyukov is an ardent advocate of a nuclear-free world and is an ambassador of the international Atom movement. He was also an activist of the Nevada-Semipalatinsk movement, created in 1989 by the famous poet, writer, diplomat and public and political figure of Kazakhstan, Olzhas Suleimenov.

Talking about his life devoted to the struggle for the peaceful life of his homeland, Kuyukov believes that he inherited his resilience and patience from his parents.

“Sometimes I wonder how many challenges one person can withstand, and the more fate tests us for strength, the more we need to resist,” Kuyukov said.

“I had friends who participated in the liquidation of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, I saw sick children who were hidden by their mothers because they were embarrassed to show them to people. In those very minutes I, like no one else, understood the severity of the challenges that we had to endure,” he recollected when talking about his initiatives against nuclear weapons.

Nuclear tests and their disastrous consequences on human health and life are one of the leading themes in Kuyukov’s work. He was born in a small Kazakh village, located 100 kilometers from the Semipalatinsk polygon. During 42 years of experiments, more than 450 explosions of various intensities rocked the place.

Thirty years ago, Kazakhstan initiated a large-scale anti-nuclear movement and was the first in modern world history to forever abandon nuclear tests and developments for military and peaceful purposes. On August 29th, 1991, by the decree of the First President of the country, Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Semipalatinsk test site was closed.

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