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Mother with Child

Lepo Mikko Mother with Child 1940s oil, paper 35 × 38 cm

A mother breastfeeding her child, in other words a certain Madonna-like archetype of a woman, has been a frequent motif in the oeuvre of male artists. Since this motif has a certain sacral background, a breastfeeding mother painted even in an everyday context also acquires a broader generalisation. Taking the grain sowers painted in the background into consideration, it can be assumed that Lepo Mikko wished to paint a metaphor of the continuation of life: a woman raises her child while men cultivate grain. Since this kind of treatment of colouring with relatively large surfaces was typical of Mikko’s oeuvre more from the first half of the 1940s, in other words in difficult times of war, this work acquires meaning from the broader context of the era. Amid death and destruction, the artist wishes to stress the importance of life using the means at his disposal. The painting’s very straightforward composition also refers to the clarity of its message. The breastfeeding woman painted at the heart of the painting looks straight into the eyes of the viewer. The sowers in the background do not assume especially complicated postures, rather they manifest and repeat the artist’s simple and concrete message with their static poses. Life must continue.