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Bejuk Aga M. Ogly Mirza-zade/Boyuk Aga Mirzazade (1921-2007)
The popular Azerbaijani artist, Beyuk Aga Meshadi or Mirzazade/Boyuk Aga Mirzazade, was born in 1921 in the village of Fatmai, not far from Baku. The family was large and poor, but the boy had a thirst for knowledge and a love of art; he would spend the last copeck to buy paints and paper, and he would sit up late talking to friends, reading or drawing. In the thirties, his family moved to Baku and in 1939, he graduated with honors from the Baku Art School. His very first paintings, An Interval at the Opera and Soviet MP Meeting His Electrote, show a complete mastery of color, perspective, and decorative composition.
Also in 1939, Mirzazade, competing against 200 other applicants, was admitted to the Moscow Art College; his examination work was the only one to receive an excellent mark, and he was able to go on with his studies under the art professors of the so –called Moscow Art School including such well-known colorists as Igor Grabar, Aristarch Lentulov, Sergei Gerasimov and others. Mirzazade was greatly influenced by French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists whose works are fairly well represented in the collections of Moscow museums. He learned from the expressive brushstroke, brilliant colors, and the delicate harmony of nuances and valuers.
In the summer of 1941, Mirzazade went home to Baku for his practice period and became the center of a Group of young artists; like himself, who strove to overcome the traditional academic manner and naturalistic, documentary style in art. When the war broke out in June, 1941, Mirzazade remained in Baku and began teaching at the Art School where he had studied earlier. During the ten years of his work there, he taught quite a few gifted students who developed into artists of note.
In the forties, Mirzazade was predominantly interested in landscape, both industrial, countryside and lyrical, picturing Baku and other scenic places in Azerbaijan. The artist visited beautiful lakes(Gyor-Gyol) suburb of a big industrial town of Kirovahad, cotton-fields and collective farms. His heroes are soldiers, peasants, workers. About the same time, Mirzazade attempts a series of of festive, flamboyant, slightly over-accentuated historical paintings inspired by the poetry Nizami, for a new Nizami Museum in Baku. Color was the leading principle of his artistic technique at the time, and he worked hard to convey emotion by means of composition.
In the fifties, a new generation of Azerbaijan writers, musicians, dancers, artists came into their own, and Mirzazade painted a number of their portraits, emphasizing his sitters’ originality and intellect, national characteristics of their talent. He also became aware of new subjects for his art: the oil-industry, featuring very prominently in Azerbaijan. In 1953, Mirzazade finished the first series of such paintings presenting the views of oil reservoirs, tankers in the Caspian Sea, elevated pipe-lines and oil-workers. The series was an immediate success at the All-Union Art Exhibition in Moscow. These pictures convey the spirit of creation, yet they are invested with a certain elegiac, meditative quality. Returning later to the theme of the oil-industry, Mirzazade sought to enhance the plasticity of structure and to stress deliberately restrained color combinations.
Cityscapes of Prague painted in 1959 are an important landmark in the artist’s development. They were shown at the exhibition of his works held in Baku in 1960. The autumnal city appears romantic and full of mystery. Beautiful buildings of Golden Prague inspired the artist to experiment with more solid and intense texture of the brushstroke, and to use forceful color combinations.
In the sixties and seventies, Mirzazade turned to new genres and new concepts. Twice, in 1963 and in 1969, he devoted a great many of his sketches and canvases to his impressions of the Lenkoran area (the Azerbaijan sub-tropics). The paintings radiate bright, sunny colors and festive moods, the people portrayed are typical Azerbaijan villagers. The artist painted more than a few female portraits. Another line of work includes portrayal of men of duty- sailors, soldiers, militia-men, etc. Sometimes they are shown in action. As in The Capture of Taganrog (1965) or The Year 1945 (1975), the paintings executed to commemorate twentieth and thirtieth anniversaries of the victory over fascism. Some are individual portraits of his contemporaries, and others are generalizations, like The Soldier of 1941. Mirzazade is still attracted by the Caspian oil-workers (this is a title of canvas done in 1971) and as ever interested in the Azerbaijan intelligentsia, painting actors (Nersesian, 1960) ballerinas (Behind the Stage, 1972) etc. His colors become exquisite, noble and refined, probably as a result of his visit to France in the early seventies, where he could see and study again his favorite French artists.
His later works are an allegory of peace. The Month of May (1975), in bright, exuberant colors, and Nude (1976), refined and correct in form and color. Mirzazade is also well-known as a stage designer. He has to his credit the scenery of far more than a dozen plays, both classical and modern. Mirzazade has been in the front of the Azerbaijan art for the past forty years. He was one of those who put Azerbaijan art on the map of the multinational Soviet art.
Korzuchin, A. - Bejuk Aga Mirzazade / A. Korzuchin. – 1980 Harvard-Oxford
Bown, M. Cullerne –Socialist Realist Painting-Yale University Press 1998.
Information provided by Sabri Kara
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