Gennadiy Brijatyuk 1935-2008



Gennadiy Brijatyuk graduated from the A. Azimzade State Art College in Baku (1958). Active during the Soviet reign, Brijatyuk pioneered new trends in contemporary art in the form of dissident art. Belonging to the Absheron School, today considered widely to have been a cultural phenomenon of global importance, Brijatyuk criticised the system and protested against the existing regime alongside other notable artists including Kamal Ahmed, Tofiq Javadov, Javad Mirjavadov, Ashraf Muradov and Rasim Babayev.


Artists belonging to the Absheron school travelled to the many villages and settlements on the Absheron Peninsula and depicted on their canvases the daily life of the local people, without idealisation and with their own view of the world. The depictions of Absheron people growing flowers, shoeing horses and bulls, making abgora (a juice from unripe grapes) and of children flying kites or riding donkeys were very different from the work of other artists and a source of irritation to officials. Accused of being ‘anti-Soviet’, as its members acted according to their convictions, the public followed the Absheronchus’ every move with great interest, as they were so unusual for their time. The artists turned their back on the artistic principles of Socialist Realism, which dominated during the communist era, and avoided toadying to any ideology.


Independence and freedom of this kind could be considered, to put it mildly, as wilfulness and it was there for all to see. Unlike most other artists who disagreed with the oppressive system, Gennadiy did not yield, nor did he change his style. At the same time, he pursued his obsession for art and insisted on painting for himself, which mostly left him in abject poverty.


Gennadiy’s works reflect his passion for life and for the people who have played important roles in it for him – especially women, whose portraits he is so fond of painting and which he does so skillfully. The subject of Madonna and child is one of his frequent themes. Landscape paintings featuring the view of life and nature in Baku and the Absheron peninsula also feature heavily in his work. Marked by his experimentation with colour, tone, texture and style, Brijatyuk pioneered a new artistic style in Azerbaijan. Artists of different generations have benefited, and continue to benefit from the traditions of the Absheron school. While the term Absheronchu was once a reproach, it is now a badge of honour for those artists who withstood the pressures of the Soviet period and created some of the finest work in Azerbaijan’s visual arts of the twentieth century. Brijatyuk’s work represents the key themes in Azerbaijani art: the bright, strikingly contrasting colours, the blend of refinement and brutality and the depictions of Azerbaijani culture, folklore and village life, forming an essential chapter in not only the history of Azerbaijani art, but in the history of art of the entire Soviet Union.


Many of Brijatyuk’s works are kept in the Azerbaijan National Art Museum; The Museum of Modern Art, Baku; Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan; The Artists Union of Russia, Moscow; The Ministry of Culture of Russia; in various galleries in Baku, France and Turkey; as well as private collections in Azerbaijan and abroad. In 1992, he was awarded with the esteemed title of the Honorary Painter of Azerbaijan.