Shaping the image of Mother Armenia: Mher Abeghian
The People’s Artist of Armenian SSR Mher Abeghian (1909-1994) was born in Vagharshapat, nowadays Etchmiadzin. He received his artistic education in Yerevan, Moscow, and Leningrad.
Abeghian expressed his emotions, thoughts, and ideas in the landscape, portraiture, still life, and genre art genres. The epic spirit and bright saturation of light and colors were peculiar to his artworks. Abeghian’s signature style developed from traditions of national painting. He experimented with various techniques, such as charcoal, pen point, sanguine, etchings, and oil painting. However, linocut was his preferable graphic technique. His works in this printing technique are distinctive for mastery of their performance, monumental forms, and expressiveness of surface.
His series of works with the Motherland symbolic image gained popularity. Some canvases represent the female figure as an attractive and graceful young girl, others – as a strict, powerful, and formidable woman, several of them- as a caring and loving mother. The artist combined the female character with national emblems, recognizable motifs of landscapes, and still-life to encompass the spirit and essence of his homeland. The primary model and inspiration for those works was Abeghian’s wife, Lusik, whom he outlived for several years. The most well-known among those allegorical depictions might be considered “Mother Armenia.” Even in the Soviet years, this image was rightfully regarded as the best and the most truthful embodiment of Armenia. The painting “Mother Armenia” was widely replicated: it could be seen on calendars, notepads, and ladies’ handbags. After the death of his wife, the artist painted her for the last time – as a young woman against the backdrop of an Armenian mountainous landscape, for the first time voicing his wife’s name in the title.