“Any form of art can be in that case,
if it is made professionally”
Mikail Abdurakhmanov has a special place in the context of contemporary Azerbaijani art. He spent many years studying. From 1968 to 1972 he was enrolled at the A. Azimzade State Art School in Baku, followed by a degree from 1973to1979 at the I.E. Repin State Academic Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in Leningrad. However, it is a proven fact that a long professional education is no guarantee of genuine creative growth. Sometimes it even impedes the inner freedom of artistsbyconfining them within a strictly defined framework. Mikail is one of those artists who, despite his study and graduation in the academic citadel of the Soviet Union, managed to break free of the shackles. Resisting the temptation to submerge himself in academia and submit to the dictates of existing expectations, he turned to active creation.
He succeeded in overcoming the primitive approach to nature, which consisted of diligent copying. As the artist says of his experience: “To paint well does not mean that one is a good artist.” But how can one become a good artist? Unfortunately, there is no magical formula which can be followed to achieve immortality. Each artist has his own creative path, made interesting by its uniqueness. Behind each method there is always the influence of the artist’s personality, an individual perception of life which is reflected in his art.
Mikail Abdurakhmanov was born into the family of renowned Azerbaijani artist Nadir Abdurakhmanov. He finds it difficult to convey in words the memories of his childhood. He recalls separate images and incidents, smells, sounds, and colors. Mikail grew up in the workshop of the father, a magical space in which a wonderful world populated by mysterious characters wasbrought to life for the boy. For him, illusion and reality sometimes merged into a single stream of consciousness. He also remembers his father talking with friends as they sincerely rejoiced inhis creative success and congratulated each other on successful work.
The future artist never forgot theemotionshe experienced when he saw landscapes by Chinese artists performed in the traditional manner with ink on rice paper, which his father brought back from a trip to China. Mikail was deeply impressed by their ghostly, mysterious, trembling beauty. He remembers the feeling of pleasure from his contemplation and immersion in this unsteady reality, which appeared to him as if woven of the finest silk threads. Today this poetic fragility is expressed in the world which he created on canvas, a style which has found many enthusiasts. His painting is refined and aristocratic, ephemeral and shrouded in mystery. Whether the subject is a gentle spray of flowers, vaguely outlined in an enveloping and pervading stream of light, or the elusive figure of women, enchanting and inaccessible, emerging for a fleeting moment from an illusion, only to disappear forever, all of his images are imbued with feeling – a sense of the impermanence of peace and beauty, and the fleeting pleasures of the world. It is precisely these concepts which are embedded in the term “ukiyo-e” traditional Japanese paintings, which have had an enormous influence on the European art of the 20th century. Mikail Abdurakhmanov is a proponent of this style.
Several key trends in the visual arts of the late 20th century of Azerbaijan are also reflected in the artist’s creations, from the critical realism implemented in the portrait genre, notable works being the portraits ofJamil Amirov, Mirza Babayev and Nazim Rzayev, among others, leading to the pastiche (‘Black tall wine glass) and moving away touncompromising abstraction (‘Composition’).
In his ability to maintain color, purity and freshness, he demonstrateshis successful research and solutions to the sometimes problematic properties of paint.
Although reflecting the influences of the era to some extent, Mikail’s works show that he only indirectly experienced the dramatic changes in the immense Soviet empire.
External factors such asthe historical collisions and collapses endured in the turbulent nineties with the accompanying chaos and confusion that tormented society did not distract Mikail Abdurakhmanov from finding his own path. He lived in his workshop, where he was engrossed in permanent self-improvement, locked in the struggle for the right to express himself confidently and convincingly and to win acceptance and understanding.
The high goals which he pursued through constant professional development, his ambition to unlock the new plastic forms, and his experimentation with techniques which he used to suffuse his work with subtle meaning were all instrumental in the evolution and birth of his expressive works of art.