Kenbaev, Moldakhmet Syzdykyovich
Moldakhmet Syzdykovich Kenbaev was born on July 25, 1925, the fourteenth child in a poor Kazakh family in the province of Kustanai. After his father died in 1931, he was raised in an orphanage in Almaty, where he first received an education in the arts. Already when he was 13 his paintings were being shown at national exhibits.
In 1941, after finishing the 7th grade, Kenbaev entered the Alma-Ata College of Theater and Arts. From 1951-1956, he would study at the Surikov Moscow State Art Institute, spending one formative summer in 1954 living in a tent on the banks of the river Ishim, documenting the Virgin Lands campaign with his artwork.
After finishing his studies in 1956, he would return to Almaty, where he would start an illustrious career in painting, becoming known for traditional scenes of Kazakh shephards. Starting in 1959, he worked as an art instructor, teaching at Almaty Art College and the Kazakh Polytechnic Institute.
In Almaty, Kenbaev was a pioneer in the medium of mosaics, working with Nikolai Tsivchinskiy on several works that are now iconic. Moldakhmet's son, Alpamys, grew up in his father's studio and is now an artist himself, devoting his time to restore what's left of his father's work in Almaty.