Last December, Azerbaijan lost a fine artist and Visions a great friend and illustrator. We featured one of Ismayil’s paintings on the cover of our last edition and now, on his birthday, we offer just a few of the many tributes from friends and colleagues to a man who brightened our lives with his generous spirit and passionate imagination.

Yusif Mirza, Artist

Ismayil Mammadov was a valued master and distinctive artist. A group of young artists returned to Baku in the 1970s having completed their studies in other Soviet republics. We were students then and followed their works with serious professional interest. Ismayil Mammadov’s works always stood out and attracted our attention. They displayed an unusual approach to the world and to art.

To discuss his art in brief is an impossible task. He was a true master, a true artist, a highly intelligent man who loved his people and native land. I will always remember Ismayil as a sincere and kind person of pure soul who never expected reward for his generosity. There was always a smile on his face, he was full of energy and ever helpful.

We knew he was having treatment for his illness and hoped only that it would be effective and return him to full health…. And although we knew this, the news of his death came suddenly. We can’t believe your death, Ismayil…. So many half-fulfilled dreams and unfinished works. Rest in Peace, Ismayil, we will never forget you.

Prof. Arif Huseynov, People’s Artist

Ismayil entered our world of art in the 1970s and he was a very talented artist whose early works aroused great interest in exhibitions and displayed a talent broad in range. He also did book illustrations, working on the epic Dede Qorqud and for fifteen years was an artist and then head artist for Baku’s Musical Comedy Theatre.

Rest in Peace, Ismayil, we will never forget you

He was a fine teacher at the European Azerbaijan School, he loved children and working with them. Not every artist can be a good teacher, but he was sincere, kind-hearted and worked day and night. He was also thrilled to have the chance to work for some time in America and his too early death was so sad for us all.

Life is short but his works will surely live on in books, the theatre, galleries and collections.

Ziyadkhan Aliyev, Honoured Art Worker, PhD Art Studies

I knew Ismayil Mammadov as an artist and a kind man. After completing his education in St Petersburg, the young artist returned to Baku and soon revealed himself to the art world as a productive and distinctive creator of art. Ismayil continued to create throughout his 42-year career and remains in the memory as a fine painter of monumental works as well as for his graphics and theatre and cinema work.

I am sure that his multifaceted creativity will ensure his place in the history of Azerbaijani fine art. Every one of the works he produced was of high aesthetic value. We would not be wrong in pointing to the harmony of his combination of classical realism and traditions of the miniature, and these features of the aesthetic, together with the equally expressive nature of his paintings and graphics, were responsible for his prominence in the world of art. There is in his works an infinite love for the historical spiritual values of his his native land. And we may claim that his paintings of varied genre, the monumental frescoes decorating public buildings and the numerous graphics featuring Azerbaijani architecture, are surely timeless. Faced with the loss of such an artist, we may truly refer to the expression, “Ismayil has departed not only from his family, but from his nation.”

Graeme Pollock, Director, Azerbaijan Teacher Development Centre

It is rare in education that students gain the benefit of working with a true master but that is the experience of students at the European Azerbaijan School, who were privileged to be taught by one of Azerbaijan’s leading and internationally regarded contemporary artists, Ismayil Mammadov.

Sadly Azerbaijan has lost a wonderful artist and the students have lost a mentor who encouraged, inspired and surrounded them with art. Ismayil instigated the renowned annual ‘Art Week’ that saw student work across all ages, framed and hung all around the school for all to see and celebrate. These weeks became known throughout the city with students looking forward to the day when Azerbaijan’s leading artists came into the school and ran master classes, sharing their passion, skill and insights with the students. The dynamic learning atmosphere that encompassed that week brought students’ talents to the fore and gave parents and teachers alike a glimpse of the often hidden creativity that was poured out onto their canvases.

Ismayil Mammadov left a legacy around the school with his many drawings and paintings on the walls that students continue to admire. But most of all, he left in each child new insights into a means of expressing who they were and how they saw the world around them. In a quiet and humble way, Ismayil opened their inner being and gave flight to their imagination and creativity. In this, he lives on in each and every child.

I am privileged to be able to call Ismayil a friend, to remember the times of fun and laughter we shared, to hold precious the impromptu portraits he drew and presented, and to have been guided through the maze of his artistic endeavour he so passionately and willingly shared. In Ismayil’s passing, Azerbaijan lost a great artist, and we, a warm and wonderful friend. He may be gone from us but he remains in our memories, in the special moments we shared and in the archives of the graphic collection of art and life he bequeathed us.