Mikayil Abdullayev 1921-2002



Mikayil Abdullayev graduated from the Baku Art College with honors, and in 1939 entered the Moscow State Art institute named after V.I. Surikov. He was admitted to the studio of the talented Russian artist Professor Sergei Vasilyevich Gerasimov. In Gerasimov’s workshop Mikayil began to comprehend the laws of art and the fundamentals of composition, learned to expertly convey a flexible form, mastered the technique of drawing and realised the importance of colour. As is widely known, Sergei Gerasimov made history in the field of Soviet art, not only as the author of standard thematic scenes, but also as a fine master of lyric landscape as taught by the great Russian artists Konstantin Korovin and Sergei Ivanov. His outstanding talent with colour allowed Gerasimov to find subtle nuances of colour in the depiction of understated but soulful Russian landscapes. Subsequently, in Abdullayev’s creativity, there appeared the same ability to convey refined colour in shades of silver, purple and pearl with subtle modulations. Mikayil Abdullayev’s teachers played a significant role in the formation of his creative methods. In the Art College in Baku, his teacher was the celebrated Azerbaijani artist Azim Azimzadeh.


After graduating with honours from the V.I. Surikov Institute in Moscow, over the course of several years, the artist produced some of his richest studies, on which he based his best paintings of the period, combined in a series of works called “Mingechevir Suite”. “The Lights of Mingechevir”, a work completed in 1948, has become an innovative portrayal of the Soviet industrial landscape, showcasing the artist’s skill in revealing the transformation of nature by man. The work was highly regarded, and was featured in the All-Union exhibitions, as well as in exhibitions in Paris. It was further included in the catalogue “Artists of the Centuries: From Giotto to the Present”, which was published in 1960 in East Germany. The “Mingechevir Suite” series includes such paintings as “Friends”, “On the Banks of the Kura river”, “Evening in the Trench”, “The Born Sea” and “Builders of Happiness”.


Mikayil Abdullayev traveled widely across many countries of the world: India, Korea, Norway, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Syria, Egypt, Algeria among others. Mikayil Abdullayev’s series of works on India are distinguished by innovative features in his art, freedom of creative thinking, high craftsmanship and clear handwriting. He first visited the country in 1957, after which he made a few more trips, and for the next thirty years, the artist often returned to the Indian theme. In the late 1950s, Mikayil Abdullayev finally departed from the style of Russian realism. His palette was incredibly sonorous, the colour was tense and the scenes became monumental generalisations. A series of images created by the artist reflected with his soft lyricism and subtle psychological insight.


Mikayil Abdullayev also taught a number of students including many well-known artists. For many years he headed the Department of Painting of the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Art, and led creative workshops organised by the Academy of Arts in Baku, in his position as deputy of the Supreme Soviet.


Abdullayev has exhibited extensively internationally including Paris, London, Berlin, Prague and Delhi to name a few. During his lifetime, Abdullayev has been celebrated as The People’s Artist of the USSR and Azerbaijan, the laureate of the International Jawaharlal Nehru Award, the State Award of the USSR, as well as the Lenin Award. Notable works include On the Fields of Azerbaijan (1963 – 5), On the Absheron (1964) and Khachmaz Girls (1982).