Iranian artist says teahouse paintings appeal to foreign tourists  

August 22, 2021 - 18:12

TEHRAN – Iranian artist Narges Eshqi has said that foreign tourists find Iranian teahouse paintings more appealing than do her compatriots.

As one of the few Iranian artists who have adopted this style, she showcased her latest paintings at Tehran’s Phi Café in an exhibition, which wrapped up on Sunday.

“Due to the unsteady place this style of painting has in the country and consequently, the lack of public access to the artworks created in this style, foreign tourists, collectors and lovers of this style are the target audience for Iranian teahouse paintings,” she said in a statement published on Sunday.

Eshqi said that teahouse painters’ unidimensional views have caused a disregard of this style and added, “Teahouse paintings have a potential to be combined with other styles, if artists blend teahouse painting and other styles we would see some genuinely new artworks, and that would be a highly positive occurrence.”  

“Teahouses have been places for people’s daily gatherings, and teahouse paintings have supported their cultural needs in different circumstances, especially in mourning ceremonies and religious events,” she noted and added, “Teahouse painting is the art of the common people, which was formed with contributions from Iran’s genuine religious art and culture.”

The exhibition entitled “Ashura Teahouse Paintings” was organized in collaboration with the Iranian Research Institute of Philosophy.

“For years, religious beliefs were promulgated by eulogists, naqqals [traditional storytellers] and Muslim clerics at hosseiniehs, tekyehs [places for seasonal Islamic ceremonies] and teahouses,” the institute said.

“Each of these people used to share their beliefs artfully and filled with emotion with the people who eagerly came together in these places,” it added.

“Also in these places were teahouse painters who listened to the stories, reflected on them and then portrayed the stories on canvases,” the institute explained.

“Teahouse painting has recently been restored based on legacies from the past by a number of young artists, one of them is Narges Eshqi,” it noted.

The teahouse has had various functions in different eras during its 400-year history in Iran. Teahouses used to be places where people gathered to spend their leisure time listening to a naqqal, an Iranian traditional storyteller, narrating stories from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh. People talked and exchanged views, and along with lutis, wise and generous people, who helped the poor.

Teahouse painters emerged in such an atmosphere. They listened to the discussions and tales, using them as subjects for the paintings they drew on the walls, tiles, stones and canvases. Sometimes, teahouse owners commissioned painters to draw the stories.

With their own unique perspective not used in other styles, teahouse painters drew motifs entirely based on their imagination. The themes of such paintings are epics, traditions and religion.

Stories about the uprising of Imam Hussein (AS) and his companions against the oppressive Umayyad dynasty in 680 CE are more highly regarded by the teahouse painters.

Photo: A teahouse painting by Mohammad Farahani is on display in an exhibition at the Iranian Artists Forum in Tehran.

MMS/YAW
 

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