Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Illustrating imagination has always associated humankind, and this is one of the mysteries of art. The humans who conflicted with nature and the humans who considered themself the greatest of creatures who dominated nature were the same.
Sometimes those perceptions are associated with ethnic and tribal memories and manifest themselves in the symbol of the same people and nation. Sometimes these notions arise from the minds of civilized and recently separated from nature in the form of unequivocal facts of the loneliness of contemporary humans.
In both cases, there are victorious human beings who have been able to record those ideas in the newspaper of the times so that the future can achieve a correct picture of human life and movement towards its ideals.
Artists and painters of every ethnic group and nation are among the most important groups that play an essential role in this direction. Humans tried to consolidate their life and survival by illustrating their ideas of being around. These efforts helped humans to realize their identity and dominate nature.
Iranian artists, in other words, painters living in Iran, were able to portray their ethnic memories in various ways. In many cases, as pioneers in the field of creativity and innovation, new approaches were used to benefit from the experiences of other nations. Due to the geographical location of Iran, they should bring their art to the highest level in terms of quantity and quality.
It is not clear to us when this kind of human identity, which is creativity and innovation, begins, because only the remnants can help us to examine it. However, this happened when humans realized their existence as a creature higher than any other animal and since humans became aware of their thinking and reasoning. This kind of innovation revived in human beings, whether it is when wights are illustrating to calm their mind, or when they are illustrating to connect with other people, or when they are illustrating to bring ideas to other people's life.
Historiography in Iran is relatively different from other human civilizations. One of the most important of these differences is the type of view and perspective of Eastern painters, which is also influenced by the different views of orientals towards nature. Iran is an Eastern country, and the Eastern view has a mystical and abstract view of nature. As a result, throughout history, Iranian artists have played an abstract role, except in cases where the dominance of the art of other ethnic groups, willingly or unwillingly, is increasing.
Another difference is the power of Iranian artists in expanding their roles on different levels. With this skill and creative power, the artist arranges a specific design with such precision at different levels in the works of art that it seems that each of these works has its design and role. On the other hand, this issue causes diversity in design and role. Therefore, unlike the West, painting is generally associated with walls in ancient civilizations and medieval and canvas in modern times. In Iran, painting on the wall or canvas was not more often a work of art. In addition to the wall are the best example of painting on pottery, metal artwork, book illustrations, and other handicrafts, in all of which the artist carefully crafted his/her design and role based on the desired level.
Another point is the painter's ritual look. Some people think that this view is related to the post-Islamic era, while in most pre-Islamic civilizations in Iran, the artist has always tried to show extraterrestrial themes in his works, or if the earthly issues are the artist's preoccupation in creating space. The works refrain from showing all objective manifestations and in a spiritual atmosphere in their works. (Of course, there are cases in Iranian art that have been entirely naturalistic due to the influence of Western culture and art.) These themes are well present in the works of pre-Islamic Iranians such as the Elamites, Lorestan, the Central Plateau of Iran, the Achaemenids and beyond the Sassanids, in particular, are well seen. It should note that the religious view and the abstract view of the surrounding nature (previously referred to as an essential difference) are interdependent. In other words, any religious view of art requires an abstract expression. It is abstract because it seems a bit difficult to tell about metaphysics in real and natural ways. In ritual art, the artist's concern is to address ultra themes.
Nevertheless, there are some points to note about this book. The first point is the purpose of writing this book. This book only analyzes visual events in Iran from the beginning to the new era and mentions the differences. Painting in Iran with other countries, especially in the West, mentioned in this introduction, can help readers to generally adopt the art of this country to other countries (if you are familiar with the art of those countries). The purpose of this book is not to apply or analyze painting and painting events in Iran with other countries in the world.
This book consists of two chapters. In the first chapter, the remaining pre-Islamic motifs and images in Iran examined, and in the next chapter, the works after the arrival of Islam in Iran examined. As explained, the interpretation we have of painting in this book is different from the interpretation that usually found in painting books, especially books in the history of world painting.
In the West, especially after the Renaissance, canvases and panels were the beginning of the painting. The works require special and unique designs, and the designer artist creates the design for the desired level with his unique creativity. In the post-Islamic period, with the prosperity of book decoration and book production, the styles of illustration and design and decoration of those books have been influential in other works of art. However, decorative designs for embossing on fabrics, carpets, tiles and pottery and other handicrafts also play a high and valuable role in design and illustration. Contemporary painting in Iran that reflects academia and modernity in Iran (except for a brief explanation about the Saqakhaneh school) has not studied in this book.
To better understand the evolution of painting in Iran, at the suggestion of the publisher and using available resources, historical chronology has added to the margins of the text, which discusses other arts and innovations of each era. These margins help a lot in the analytical studies of the art of each period, and especially in acquainting the readers with the developments in other social and artistic fields. Because, firstly, artistic developments have the same appearance in all related works, and secondly, a phenomenon called art is wholly related to other social and cultural phenomena of society.
In this book, I have tried to protect the original values hidden in Iranian art, and I am most grateful to all the real artists, writers, historians and sympathizers in the field of culture and art (Iranian and non-Iranian). Their efforts are an eternal legacy, and if it were not for that legacy from the beginning, these efforts would not have been successful.
This book dedicates to the pure spirit of a kind mother and artist father.