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Mikhail Abdullayev was an Azerbaijani painter who held the title of "People's Painter" of the former USSR since 1963. He is an alumnus of the Azimzadej Azerbaijan Painting School (1939) and the Surikov Moscow State Painting Institute (1949), and was a member of the Moscow department of the USSR Academy of Arts. Igor Emmanuilovich Grabar, who first discovered his talent, and Sergey Gerasimov were Abdullayev's masters and comrades during his academic education at the Moscow State Institute of Trade. Both praised Abdullayev's capability in their articles for the Iskusstvo Journal.
Abdullayev's panel Gorky was exhibited in 1951 at the All Union Art Exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery, where he was presented with a state award and hold grant from Stalin. During his trips to India, Afghanistan, Hungary, Poland, Italy and other countries from 1956 to 1971, Abdullayev painted many of his most well-known canvases, and he continued to work with Gerasimov at the USSR Academy of Arts from 1958-1963. Three paintings he created in 1964-1965 were sent to the USSR State Gallery for an exhibition dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the victory over Fascism.
In 1969 Abdullayev was presented with the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding for his outstanding contribution to the promotion of international understanding, goodwill and friendship among peoples of the world for a series of paintings entitled Through India. Other winners of this award include Martin Luther King, Jr. (1965), Mother Teresa (1968), Andre Malraux (1971), Jonas Salk (1974), Nelson Mandela (1978), Indira Gandhi (1983), and YasserArafat (1987).
Abdullayev's paintings have been exhibited in Paris, London, Berlin, Montreal, Prague, Budapest, Belgrade, Sophia, Warsaw, Dehli, Cairo, and Brussels. Abdullayev is also the designer of an artistic panel in the Nizami Station of the Baku Metro. His paintings were exhibited in the Moscow State Museum of the Orient, The Tretyakov Gallery (The National Museum of Russian Fine Art), and are on display in the Azerbaijan State Museum of Art.
According to the confession of German artist Walter Bomaka, his painting On the shore (1962) was influenced by Abdullayev's work Saadat guranlar (Creators of happiness) (1951) that he drew on the subject of love.
“M.Abdullayev’s works were especially wide-spread in East Germany since 1958, i.e., after his mobile exhibition of Soviet descriptive art displayed abroad. The publishing house Zeymann in Leipzig issued his works in the form of colored reproductions, postcards, “wall painting” and different calendars in great number and big size as well as published a monograph dedicated to the creative work of the artist. 26 sets of colorful slides under the heading “Der Maler Abdullayev” (the painter Abdullayev) were shown in Berlin.
The albums “Abdullayev” which were published by Zeymann in 1959 and 1960 are the first examples dedicated to modern Soviet descriptive art. They were published in 1965 in Leipzig for the second time. It is the first monograph of Azerbaijan art published in a foreign country.
In 1941, then 20 year-old Mikayil created composition with three figures named Vasiyyat (Will) over the motives of the great Nizami’s poem Isgandarma. It was the first perfect work of the young painter. He takes the subjects of historical and patriotic to brush and paints political placards and portraits as in the years of the Great Patriotic War as well as addresses the revolutionary and historical, friendship of nations, free labor and prosperous life subjects in the building years after the War.
This quality makes up the leitmotives of paintings like In Absheron, An old Shepherd, In the field, A collective woman from Lankaran, A girl from Garabag, In the fields of Azerbaijan, The youth of mothers, Collection of tea plants in Astara region, The rice growing girls, Cotton, The morning of the 41st year, The girls from Khachmaz and Viticulturists which he created within the last 25 years. In the fields of Azerbaijan consists of three parts. The central part of this epic painting represents the invincible will of the people in the years of the Great Patriotic War – the composition June of the 41st year evokes deep emotional feeling. There is no place for pessimism and despair despite the drama and intensity of the characters because of the artist's optimistic approach to life.
M. Abdullayev’s palette is rich, clear and colorful. It is not by chance that Galina Ulanova, the greatest ballet master of our time, the Hero of Socialist Labor for two times and the Laureate of Lenin Prize wrote in the opinion book of the artist’s individual exhibition organized in Berlin in 1966: “They call the Armenian painter Saryan “Sunny Saryan”. I think this can also be applied to the Azerbaijan painter Abdullayev”.
Indeed, like Saryan, Mikayil Abdullayev also loved sunny colors. When you look at M.Abdullayev’s works, you believe that Azerbaijan is really a sunny land, its land is fertile, its colors are different, it is pleasant and fresh, its weather is welcome and its people are hospitable and generous.
From this point of view, let’s remember his painting Cotton created in 1977. The work gained great success in the All-Union art exhibitions conducted under the mottoes “On the way of Lenin” and “We build communism” and was highly evaluated in the central press pages. The newspaper Pravda (Truth) published the photo of his painting Cotton on the day of the opening of the All-Union exhibition “We build communism” dedicated to the XXVI Congress of the Party. The newspaper Sovetskaya kultura (The Soviet culture) also printed the image of the painting Cotton, indead this image was published in major magazines.
It was one of the main qualities of M.Abdullayev’s creative work to represent the modern Soviet reality and to compose a song on the beauty of our life. His best works are in the spirit of the victory of life and flourishing. Mikayil Abdullayev approached the rich artistic heritage and beautiful traditions of his people for use in his artistic research.
The introduction of the artist’s creative work was his work painted in the subject of Nizami’s Khamsa. Then, he enjoyed the pure spring of the great Fuzuli’s art and made the heroes of the work “Leyli and Majnun” speak in the language of drawings and colors and gave the Fuzulian image and “soul” to the character of a lover in his illustrations (1958-1977). The illustrations drawn to the poem Leyli and Majnun brought new freshness to the miniature traditions. The book found its audience in a short time and became a beautiful present among the broad masses of readers. This book has repeatedly decorated the International and All-Union book exhibitions. According to the acknowledgement of Turkish philological sources, M.Abdullayev’s pictures drawn to the poem Leyli and Majnun leave far behind those ever painted for its artistry and beauty.
The venerable master first enriched our art of modern book design with the traditions and stylistic features of classical miniature trade of painting. From this point of view, yet in 1956, he glanced the colors of the epos “Dada Gorgud” and created miniature paintings with multiple plots which praise the great Gorgud’s wisdom, the heroism of Bugaj, a son of Dirsakhan and Garaja Choban as well as Banu Chichak’s beauty. These illustrations opened a new successful page in the genre of book design and became pattern for other graphics of us. He also created the artistic character of proud Nasimi, who sacrificed himself for true word, invincible creed and aim.“
He painted portraits of Renato Guttuzo and Jakomo Mantsu, laureates of the International Lenin Prize. Other notable portraits are of Alberto Moraviya, Karlo Levi, Saro Mirabella, Enid Kalabria, and Enzo Brunory and at last Anna Salvatore.
In 1970-80's many of his articles about art were published in Communist, Literature and Fine Art, Izvestiya, Iskusstvo and Literaturnaya qazeta, Azerbaycan and Qobustan magazines. He became a Liberation/Istiqlal laureate in 1959, Great Lenin Laureate, and received grants from Stalin, People's Artist and State Artist of USSR, National Artist of Azerbaijan, 1978. He became a Professor and received an Honorary Diploma and Silver Medal by the National Art Academy of USSR in 1958. He was the Chairman of All Union Art Alliance of USSR in 1958 and many times thereafter, like his painter friend Boyuk Aga Mirzazade.
A documentary film was made about Abdullayev in 1972 Mikail Abdullayev by Jamil Farajov, at the Leningrad State Institute of cinematography, theatre, and television. He was a Azerbaijan Republic's Merited Arts Statesman.
Socialist Realist Painting Bown, Matthew Cullerne, Yale University Press (March 30, 1998) (Mikael G. ABDULLAEV pp: 266, 267, 268, 290, 358 and 307) 528 pages in English.
My Writings by M. Abdullajew/Mikayil Abdullayev "Ishig" ( Isiq) publishing house. Baku 1988 (Editor of speciality: Art doctor Nureddin Hebilov Reviewer: Huseyin Abbaszade.)
Zhenshchiny Indii: [album] by Mikail Guse¸n-ogly Abdullaev (Unknown Binding - 1976) published by “Sovetski¸ khudozhnik”.
Mikail Gusein ogly Abdullaev by Nureddin Davydovich Gabibov, published in 1956, “Sovetskii khudozhnik” (Moscow) 72 pages in Russian Language.
Mikail Abdullaev by Nureddin Davydovich Gabibov, published in 1969, "Izobrazit. iskusstvo," (Moscow) 158 pages in Russian Language.
Written and submitted by Sabri Kara