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Some illustrations at the exhibit
Art And Culture

‘Extraordinary Creatures’ on Display

A group exhibition of illustrations titled ‘Extraordinary Creatures’ is underway at Maryam (Saint Mary) Art Gallery in Tehran which features artistic creations of imaginary creatures rooted in ancient mythology and fantasy literature.

A total of 32 artworks from 20 artists are on display at the exhibit curated by the young artist Peyman Rahimizadeh who is an illustrator of adult and young adult books, especially stories based on mythology and imaginary creatures.

The world is full of stories about fantastic beings. For thousands of years, humans everywhere have brought mythical creatures to life in stories and works of art. Ancient fables, fairy tales and particularly Roman and Greek mythology are replete with such creatures including sphinx, Cyclops, hydra, minotaur, centaur, griffin, phoenix and dragon.

Legendary creatures can also be found in Persian literature, especially in the epic of Shahnameh (Book of Kings) written by the acclaimed Persian Poet Ferdowsi (935-1020). Div, ghoul, manticore and simurgh are among the mythical creatures mentioned in Persian literature.

However in the ‘Extraordinary Creatures’ exhibit, visitors get to see modern imaginary beings, different from the classic ones.

The exhibit is a collection of works by Rahimizadeh’s art students.

In an interview with the Financial Tribune, he said he did not want his students to recreate the same old pictures but to illustrate “new beings from their imagination, with just a hint from the available resources.”

Looking at the artworks, one can distinguish three animals that predominate most of the illustrations, cat, owl and frog.

“The artists were told to use these three animals as the base of their work and to employ their creativity to develop them into a new creature. The three animals represent three aspects of life: on earth, in the sky and in water,” Rahimizadeh said.

 Two Years of Effort

The final works on display is the result of a long process in which the 38-year-old Rahimizadeh taught his students different aspects regarding such creative illustrations to prepare them to produce a fine work worthy of being displayed. “It took the artists over two years to reach this level because they started learning drawing from scratch,” he noted.

To give the young artists an idea of what they were going to work on, their instructor introduced to them the Persian book ‘Wonder Letter, Wonders of Creation and Marvels of Creatures’ written by Mohammad Hamedani in the 6th century. The book is a complete source of imaginary creatures of old stories and mythologies as well as wonders of the world including natural phenomena, planets, stars, seas, mountains, regions and manmade structures like temples and sculptures.

“My students read the book and got to know about the existing legendary creatures, but used their imagination to create something new,” Rahimizadeh said.

The works are all in black and white and no color is used so as to give “a sense of nostalgia” to the ancient known creatures. Moreover, they were intended to resemble the illustrations depicted in old books which were all in black and white.

The works are on show till November 2 at the gallery located at Karimkhan Zand Ave., corner of north Nejatollahi St., Maryam Park.

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