Printmaking, Collage and Sclupture Exhibition
10 February to 5 march 2017
Ancient Iranian Motifs
I started working on Iran’s ancient motifs in 1990 after several visits to the nomadic areas in Iran. Searching motifs in decorative designs and everyday objects used by migratory tribes I traced the archeological researches and museum treasuries of Iran and France. In 1993, the first stage of work ended with completing and exhibiting of 30 motifs executed by printmaking techniques of xylography and chalcography. Last year, eight new motifs were added to this collection.
From a multitude of motifs, I selected human, animal and vegetal designs discovered in ancient sites of Shush, Tepe Sialk, Tall-i- Bakun, Mousian, Tall-i Jari, Lorestan and Marlik.
Painted on potteries and everyday objects, and carved on cylinder seals by unknown artists between 5000 and 1000 BC, these simple and well-formed motifs provide a visual account of prehistoric human life in the Iranian plateau.
These motifs have been gradually developed throughout successive periods of time; however, they always display the ways of living by the ancient people based upon hunting, animal breeding and cultivation, either in a naturalistic or an abstract style. Some others also reveal their spiritual world, rituals and mythic beliefs. Many of these motifs owe their resilience and enduring nature up until today to their closely interwoven links with the handmade objects and everyday life of the nomads of Iran.
Apart from the national and historical value of these ancient motifs, the stylized and graphic language of these motifs is so simple, elegant and impressive that they could be taken as “modern” images. Regenerating these ancient designs with various printmaking methods would help make a distinction between their expressive and artistic nature and their decorative and practical aspect. Hence we can embrace and maintain the legacy of ancient Persia as timeless artworks.
By joining the endeavors of ancient motif painters, I wished to perpetuate their works; so, I did my utmost to not change the original motifs as much as possible. However, intentionally or not, transferring these motifs, from volumed pots and jars into a flat surface, composing backgrounds, the specific language of printmaking, and the personal style of this painter have given a new identity to these works.
All the motifs in this collection are executed by chalcography method. The descriptions beneath the images indicate where the original motif was discovered. In the present collection, I have combined one printed proof of each motif with paper collage of botanical forms in order to blend these ancient Iranian designs with the artistic styles of other places and eras.
Ancient motifs were originally painted on potteries in dark brown or black ink, and my original proofs are also printed in black ink; however, printmaking technique makes possible various coloring on the same plate, examples of which you can see in this book. Differently colored prints are known as monoprints. Aside, the number of each print and the total number of non- homogenous monoprints are marked in Roman numbers.
Samila Amirebrahimi- November 2016