Arystanbek Shalbayev was born in the Keless country of South Kazakhstan in 1959. Soon after graduating from the Almaty Institute for Arts and Theater in 1984, the artist returned to Shymkent where he became a teacher at the Kasteyev school and met fellow teacher Vitaliy Simakov. Shalbayev and Simakov’s close proximity created a space for each to learn from each other and experiment with the compositional qualities of painting. Using painting, graphics, installation, video and performance, Shalbayev’s practice is an exquisite juxtaposition of subjects and mediums. Shalbayev’s artworks display strong conceptual visual aspects which come together using a solid, almost scientific, methodology—making his process just as important as the message of his artworks. The artist is interested in absurd representations of Kazakhstan’s current-day social, cultural and economic dilemmas, as well as its history and mythological discourse. His latest series of artworks, collectively called Boomerang, reveal the self-destructive fate of Kazakhstan’s natural-resource-driven economy.
Arystanbek has participated in a number of personal and group exhibitions in Kazakhstan, the UK, Czech Republic, France and Spain where his pieces have been acquired by local and public collections. Of note, Arystanbek was a part of the show Nomads, a collective exhibition of artists from Kazakhstan in Moscow; Life is a Legend, a show of contemporary Kazakhstan art in Strasbourg, France; and the ArtBat Festival in Almaty, Kazakhstan.