Wooden Books of Persian Kings
"The First Kings", exhibited at 'CONTEMPORARY IRANIAN ART & THE HISTORICAL IMAGINATION', Dartmouth, 2020. Photo courtesy of Hamed Nouri
"Wooden Books of Persian Kings" is a series that includes the first Iranian Kings from Ferdowsi's creation myths, alongside the last monarchs from the Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties. Contrary to the narrative miniatures typically used to illustrate Ferdowsi's epic poem, Artemis' kings and queens are portraits, each the result of a thorough investigation of the esthetic elements attributed to each ruler by Ferdowsi or, in the case of the more recent dynasties, the study of 19th century travelogues, painted portraits and photographs. The artist tempers this approach by perusing contemporary faces of random people who wear a given ruler’s name. All the portraits are symbolically non realistic, informed by poetry, prose and the artist's investigations. The emphasis is on working within the predetermined shapes and dimensions for each ruler and on how the natural place and shape of things have been manipulated to challenge the viewer’s recognition of expected esthetics, forms, colors and concepts.