Babak Kazemi Tells Ancient Tales through Persian Carpets and Photography
Babak Kazemi uses the medium of photography to recount ancient tales that inspire and that are thought-provoking. Using Persian carpets as the backdrop, Persian artist Babak Kazemi recounts the tragic and ancient tale of Shirin and Farhad through photographs. Using beautiful Persian carpets to set the scene, Kazemi pays homage to the ancient traditions but gives them a contemporary twist.
The “Exit of Shirin & Farhad” is the story of a love triangle that was also a favorite subject among Persian miniature painters. The story revolves around Farhad, who was a stonemason, King Khosrow and Shirin of course. Both men were in love with Shirin, a Persian woman of unrivaled beauty. To gain the affections of the king, Shirin uses Farhad’s affections to make the king jealous.
The ploy worked, and the king did become jealous. He decided to rid himself of the competition and decides to assign Farhad an impossible task. If Farhad succeeds, he can have the hand of Shirin, but first, he must move a mountain, literally. Rather than giving up, Farhad is driven by his love of Shirin. He made incredible progress, and when Shirin went to see for herself, she faints from exhaustion. Farhad puts her and her horse on his shoulders and carries them back to the palace.
Contemporary Twist by artist Babak Kazemi on the Old Tale of Shirin and Farhad
Kazemi decided to use the theme of Shirin and Farhad to explore the struggle of modern lovers who must leave their homes and travel to faraway places to find the freedom to love. It is a tale of forced immigration and migration. Kazemi uses the image of King Khosrow as the symbol of the social and cultural pressures that both men and women continue to endure today. The king represents the social structures and traditional institutions that serve as an oppressive force in the ability to exercise free will and choice.
In the end, Kazemi sends the message that love can overcome even the most oppressive forces and survive.
About Persian Artist Babak Kazemi and His Works Of Art
Artist Babak Kazemi was born in 1983 in Ahvaz, Iran, but currently calls Tehran his home. The greatest influence on Kazemi’s work was his childhood. Growing up in southwestern Iran, he was in an area that saw great wealth from the oil industry, but also the struggles and devastation of war.
By drawing on the 16th-century tale of tragedy, Kazemi shows that nothing much has changed. Even though we have advanced technology, the struggles of the people remain much the same. Kazemi modernized the images of the tales but tied them to the ancient traditions by using the rugs and carpets of the great Safavid Dynasty as the backdrop.
Although the central story of the tale remained the same, Kazemi’s version is decidedly modern. For instance, in one photo, you can see Farhad, dressed in modern clothing and sporting a wristwatch carrying Shirin and her bicycle.
The photographic style uses collage and is rendered in tones such as sepia to create the feel of old tin-type plates. They are colorized in a way that gives them a surreal quality. For instance, the artist chose to highlight seemingly unimportant details, such as a water puddle. Water is often used to indicate emotion. In this case, Kazemi highlights the struggles and determination of Farhad, because he is carrying Shirin and her bicycle through the puddle in sock feet.
Kazemi’s art work is both breathtaking and emotional. He often uses deeper colors and clouds to represent the tragic impact of war on his characters. His work brings ancient themes into the present context and connects with a modern contemporary audience in a deep and emotional way. Kazemi brings a fresh voice and outlook to the traditional medium of photography.
The work of Babak Kazemi is considered experimental, and it represents a new body of contemporary work that is fresh, yet it draws on classical themes. His art work has been featured at the Maraya Art Centre and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran. His work is also in the private collection of the Sheikh of Sharjah in the UAE. The Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago also holds several of his works.
Kazemi recently completed a six-week artist residency in Lebanon, so we will be seeing more of this artist’s viewpoint on modern life. These works highlight the potential of the beautiful patterns and colors of Persian carpets and their expressive potential in a variety of mediums. It also highlights their ability to represent the traditions and institutions of ancient culture. Kazemi’s work is important for its beauty and the timeless message that it brings. We hope to be seeing more from him soon.