ROSTAM RETURNS: The Shahnameh’s Hero in the 21st Century

March – November 2016

The Farjam Foundation, in conjunction with Art Nights at DIFC and Art Dubai, cordially invites all art and culture enthusiasts for a viewing of its upcoming exhibition, “Rostam Returns: The Shahnameh’s hero in the 21st Century.”  The show will portray a unique experience of an ancient cultural theme through the eyes of a contemporary artist. 

Inspired by Rostam, the national hero and the main character of The Shahnameh – The Book of Kings – an 11th century Persian epic poem written by the renowned poet Ferdowsi (932-1020), Siamak Filizadeh (b. 1970) created Rostam II – The Return series, which is at the center of this exhibition. Filizadeh started his career as a graphic designer working in various fields such as advertising and branding before fully focusing on visual arts. Today, Siamak Filizidah is a successful international artist, having been exhibited in Chicago, Dubai, Los Angeles, New Delhi, New York, Rio de Janeiro, and Tehran. His recent works – Rostam II – The Return Series have been acquired by The Metropolitan Museum (New York) and by LACMA (Los Angeles). Carrying the essence of the poetry of the Book of Kings into the 21st Century, Filizadeh transforms the great Persian mythical hero into a muscle-bound, tattooed, bazooka-shooting character riding a hybrid, super-charged mechanized beast. He gives the Book of Kings a post-modern treatment by commencing his catalogue with a 5-line disclaimer denying its influence and then rewriting the synopsis of the story. The Farjam Foundation will concomitantly showcase the source of inspiration to Filizadeh’s work through a group of 14th-20th century miniatures.  As was the custom historically, certain pages of the Book of Kings were illustrated as an adjunct to enhancing the poetry. By demonstrating the similarities and differences between the viewpoints of artists that are several centuries apart, the exhibition hopes to outline and juxtapose the influence of time, culture and heritage upon each other, expressed from the artists’ viewpoints and through artistic mediums. Furthermore, the Shahnameh miniatures carry a significant historical reference to combat-weapons and arms such as knives and swords. Through the addition of a number of original arms and armor artifacts from The Farjam Collection, the viewer is offered a unique opportunity to gather a holistic impression of the theme across the centuries.

Exhibition Catalog

Media Coverage

The National Iranian Expression