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    Aklil-Al-Molouk project | Feb 2010 / Mohsen Art Gallery / Tehran By : Pooya Abbasian & Farshid Monfared
    Published:
It seems that the history of Iranian painting (Negargarehs) has stemmed from three sources. The first could be conceived as the semiotic system of Iranian mysticism, which, through providing a common symbolic order between the artist and his contemporaneous audience, made the golden skies, the silver rivers, and the halos, palpable and familiar. The second was the governmental system which, by funding the artists, made room for such works to be executed – a traditional government, whose ideological and political influence, of course, could not be ignored. The third rendered a composition consisting of the social context on which the artist was grounded and the impacts of other nations on the art of that particular era. In times Chinese, in other times Byzantine or Turfan paintings each lent some of their visual elements to Iranian painting so as to be translated by Iranian painter according to his particular social context. By centuries, the audience of Iranian painting was always familiar with this triple source while knowing how to mentally reach to the subtext of the work. However, the transformation within Qajarid era – especially, the influx of modernity – severed the close ties of audience with previously accepted sources. Houses, costume, communication devices, and many other aspects of everyday life became increasingly subjected to change. If employing new visual elements seemed unaccustomed at the end of Safavid era, this time, at the eve of the new century, what appeared even stranger was the very aspiration for the survival of the language of Iranian painting.

Thus, a new generation of painting emerged, carrying a false name, ‘miniature’. It attempted to retain something of the tradition while persisting to attract the contemporary audience. The golden skies, the silver rivers, the flaming trees, and the colourful birds, all became void of meaning, as a result of the disrupted link with the first source. The elements of the Ideal world as a lamé with its golden wraps pillaged were reduced to a beautiful icon replete with the nonsense. Parallel to this, the other two sources continued their tasks in a new way: The dignity of the Ideal Beauteous became a site for manifestation of mastery in plastic surgery. The eyes grew larger as the noses tended upwards. The Sormeh (Collyrium) which seemed an eternal phenomenon was replaced by a heavy make-up that could be removed at night with a cotton pad. However, curling garments and deer were still there. The result is a semiotic, and of course visual, disorder originating from the third source, which could be seen both ironically and wistfully.