Reprinted from:
Faslname-ye Honar
The Center Of Artistic Research & Studies Ministry of Culture & Islamic Guidance
No. 57, Fall 2003

Kamaleddin Behzad, Iranian miniaturist

Painting: Iran
The world of imagination & the concept of space in Persian painting: S. Hossein Nasr
Little attention has been paid to the intrinsic philosophical and symbolic meaning of Persian painting and that most of the researches have been conducted in this area and have been undertaken by non-Iranian scholars. Even these are mostly dedicated to formal discussions and historical debates; unlike the works of Coomaraswamy, Zimmer, Kramrich, Salmony and more recently Rowland on the Chinese, Japanese and Indian arts.
There were only a few scholars such as Pope, Burkhardt and Ettinghausen, who have paid attention to the inherent truth in Islamic art. This comes while academic circles have accepted that art is a symbolic language, which reveals the philosophical foundations of a civilization.
A portrait of a world or a discussion on the Persian art: Dariush Shaygan
Quoted from a book by Dariush Shaygan, this article about the understanding of art observes that it is impossible to appreciate the art of any nation without understanding the creative inspiration and spirit, of which art is an outcome.
However, any authentic at is linked to the eternal source, whose message is carried from the past to the loyal children of the future. Nevertheless, there are few people, who remain loyal to their heritage. Iranians are one those few people, who have remained devoted to their ethnic legacy.
In spite of several invasions by outsiders and the historical gaps, which are part of the country's historical characteristics, Persian art has remained as a unique phenomenon regardless of the numerous changes it has undergone.
The Persian art or ceramic conveys a picture as old as the world itself. This picture divides the space into four parts and its focal point is a cross. This primary picture is what inks our ethnic memories to each other like an invisible thread across the Iranian plateau.
Persian painting and the colors of light, mirror and garden: Y. Eshaghpor, J. Arjmand
The main source of the astounding and fascinating glamour of Persian painting is rooted in its colors. The brilliance of its visible colors, a sense of absolute liberty, delicacy, variety, endlessness, details and delicate harmony are what makes Persian painting stand out and apart from the masterpieces of Chinese and Western painting.
In Persian painting, objects are devoid of their dark part. They lack weight, volume and shadow, as though they are reflections in a magic mirror. The characteristic of this painting is its splendor.
But what is splendid is not the nature of what is in the painting, although there are dragons, legendary birds, angels and demons in Persian miniatures. What is splendid is that whatever enters the Persian painting turns itself into pure color no matter if it is a garden, a castle, a love sense, a hunting scene or a battlefield. Yet, whenever there is violence there is no excitement. What there is, is a calm eternity, a reflection of light stemming from somewhere else.
Persian painting from the oldest times to Safavid period: Ali Akbar Tajvidi
From among all forms of art, painting can draw the closest inks between the spiritual and material worlds. It simplifies the world and its many dimensions into only two dimensions marked by lines and colors. And this narrates man's perception of the world.
In this way, a piece of painting is a series of truths, which reflect the world. In a world devoid of atmosphere, perspective and shadows, the artist tries to act as an alchemist, who recreates the divine light with colors.
A rare character of our times: Qazi Mir Ahmad Monshi (Qom), Gulistan Honar 1972
A rare character of his times and the best painter of his days is master painter Behzad, who lives and works in the capital Herat.
Estranged from the parents as a child, he was adopted and later trained by Mirak, a librarian in the royal court of Shah Sultan Hussein. Son Behzad had a great progress and son became a master painter far better than any other painter had ever been.
Shah Ismail's handwritten mandate appointing Behzad as the royal librarian
Based on the verse, "When you create, create in the best way", man created as a wonderful being and in the most beautiful appearance. This is a sign of the power of the creator, who paints the faces of all creatures.
And he created a fine, wise and able artist of good taste and delicate passion for colors, who can create fine paintings on his board and reveal the desirable shape of things.
(Quoted from Gulistan Honar)
The death of Behzad: Gulistan Honar
Behzad was always endeared, while at the service of Shah Ismail. He was promoted to be the chairman of the royal library. Thanks to the patronage of Shah Ismail and Shah Tahmasb, who replaced his father after his death, Behzad trained many apprentices in Tabriz, the best of whom were Khajeh Abdul-Aziz and Ostad Mozafar Ali. Qazi Mir Ahmed mistakenly reported his death in Herat. Behzad passed away in Tabriz. His tomb is next to that of Sheikh Kamal's, in the Sheikh's garden.
A Behzad's work on an introduction by Qiaseddin Khand-mir
An introduction by Qiaseddin Khand-mir, describing a work of art, which is an example of Behzad's skill as a master painter:
"Kamaleddin Behzad is one of the artists with comprehensive knowledge. These works of his are examples of the finest paintings, which reflect his believes and ingenuity and kindness."
(Courtesy of the National Library of Paris)
A description of Behzad's creativity and skill
The king, may his soul rest in peace, had chosen Behzad of all the artists, as he was respected by all artists of his likeness. When the king was sad, the master painter created a work of art, so that the king would cheer up, as soon as he saw the work. And he knew too many ways of creating joyful works for his royal highness.
In one occasion, when the king's beloved horse died, the man who took care of the horses, came to the master painter and said that the king would die of sorrow, when the news of his horse's death is going to break out; and he sought the painter's help.
(Quoted from Vasefi, Zeinoddin Mahmoud, Badaye-ol-Vaqaye, published by the Iranian Cultural Foundation)
Kamaleddin Behzad, the most passionate and tasteful Persian painter: Jalil Ziapour
Kamaleddin Behzad was born in Herat, some 500 years ago. Since his childhood, it was evident from his talent that he was going to become one of the greatest painters of Persia. He was lucky enough to be in a favorable situation for his growth and progress. He received his encouragement from both the people and his royal patrons.
His fame as a painter was identical with that of a legendary ancient Persian painter, known as Mai. So many other painters have imitated his style and many others tried to pass their own works as those of Behzad.
His work was unique in his selection of the subjects and his choice of vivid colors and delicate style. This was the peak of an endeavor in the area of painting, which started in early Islamic era. Behzad's importance is not merely in the fact that he facilitated the development of Persian painting. His importance lies rather in the fact that he brought Persian painting beyond the status any artist intended to bring. That is what has made Behzad superior to all other artists of his time.
Pictorial narrative or text; a contemplation in theories of Paul Ricoeur: M. Hesami
The concept of narration has always been expressed in words, which indicate that narration has something to do necessarily with text. On the other hand, the act of writing requires some sort of awareness, which is text related. But, can pictures be used for conveying meanings? Obviously, illustration has been an important as text in conveyance of messages and meanings. Nevertheless, even the scholars, who were familiar with pictures, have always brought their examples for narration from the realm of text.
There are several reasons for this domination of text over pictures. One is that it is easier to register a subject in text form. But, is reading always convincing? Is text powerful enough on its own? Or it does need some illustrations? And which one is more powerful? the text or the illustration?
Behzad in Tabriz; the mutual impact of various styles on Tabriz school of painting in 16th century: Jamilia Gasanzadeh, Kayhan Valinejad
Behzad is undeniably as a painter of Herat school and the other schools, which took shape in the 16th century and were developed later on. The style invented by Behzad gave rise to outstanding artists, who established and expanded the principles of Herat school all across the oriental world.
Tabriz school reaches an integrity of its own without losing its epical power and impression. His most evident in the portrayal of Shirin's suicide. According to Doust Mohammad, this is an outcome of the interaction between the schools of Herat and Tabriz.
Behzad is the last remarkable artist of Tabriz school, who added to the achievements of Persian painting, even in the last year of his lifetime. This is most evident in his Ascension of the Prophe, which is based on Nizami's Khamseh.
Behzad; an east-west texture: Akbar Hakimov
A major characteristic of the philosophy of the 20th century's art is the understanding of the global characteristic of the cultural heritage of our civilization. Yet, there is still room for a comparative study of the arts of the West and the East.
A study of the works of master painter Behzad will clarify how the cosmological characteristics of Western and Eastern paintings were brought closer to each other after the 15th century.
Behzad, as a both real and symbolic characters gives us an opportunity to understand the extend of artistic skill in the peak period of Persian painting.
Kamaleddin Behzad and his role in Persian painting: D.J. Roxberg, M.P. Khorassani
Behzad was one of those painters, who worked delicately and skillfully. However, he painted the face of bearded men very finely, but when it came to shave faces, he painted them big chins. Nevertheless, there are very few artists, whose works are as wonderful as those of Behzad's. He is definitely the best artist in the history of Persian art.
Later scholars agree with his contemporaries that his works were indeed precious. Some Iranian resources name him as the artist who replaced the legendary painter Mani. However, Behzad was harassed heavily in his lifetime for his daring paintings. Most of his biography has been prepared, based on the notes, which appear in the margin and sometimes practically on the paintings.
Scholars agree that Behzad's role in Persian painting is that of returning its spiritual qualities. Even his depiction of literary works contains psychological accounts of literary episodes. There is a sense of naturalism in his portrayal of everyday life. In his compositions, colors play a key role.
Behzad's artistic style: Elmira Esmailova, Kayhan Valinejad
The works of Behzad, a genius painter from the Middle East, have been the subject of several studies since late 19th century. Scholars have been interested in them for their harmony, magical beauty, the way they portray the world, the depth of man's spiritual and material life and the relationship between god and man. It is essential that these works are studied once again in a new light. One of the best ways of studying these works is comparing them to the works of the artist's contemporaries.
One of the characteristics of Behzad's works is its dramatic quality and the way it brings together various elements and makes them sophisticated in order to link an apparently local episode to a vital global issue.
With his spiritualistic view, the artist put all the elements in a limited space, while attaching importance to the four Islamic elements of earth, air, water and fire. In his views, the world cannot be detached from nature.
Musical elements in Behzad's paintings: Jasour Rasoul Taef
It is extremely difficult to analyze the traditional paintings in Iran. It is because there are always profound thoughts behind the apparent transparency of these works. Yet, they may lead the researcher to the world or imagination. In the works of Iranian painters, such as Behzad, one could usually see characters, playing some musical instruments. These are not the main characters, but still they help other characters in the painting to stand out.
The type of instruments, used in various ceremonies, tell us about the nature of the gathering. Some of the instruments are played by men and women alike. These paintings show that after so many years the shape of some of the musical instruments has changed, while others have survived the passage of time. Even the names of some of the instruments have changed in the course of time.

Research: Art


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