News | Visual Arts
“The Rose and the Nightingale: A Persian Iconography” to be exhibited in Dubai


Date: April 19, 2014

Source: Tavoos

“The Rose and the Nightingale: A Persian Iconography”, is a group exhibition which will kick off on April 24 at JAMM Art gallery, in Dubai. The exhibition explores a large spectrum of expression of the gol o bolbol theme in contemporary Iranian art.


Curated by Maneli Keykavoussi, the exhibition features works by Navid Azimi Sajadi, Masoumeh Bakhtiari, Ladan Boroujerdi, Dariush Hosseini, Farid Jafari Samarghandi, Farideh Lashai, Farshid Mesghali, Hooman Mortazavi, Tarlan Rafiee, Amin Roshan, Yashar Samimi Mofakham, Rozita Sharafjahan, Rasool Soltani and Gizella Varga Sinai. It will run from 24 April to 29 May 2014 with a preview on Wednesday 23 April from 6-9 pm.

The rose and the nightingale have been used in Persian literature and visual imagery for many centuries. In literature the rose and the nightingale have symbolised both earthly and spiritual love: the rose as a metaphor for perfection, beauty and the beloved, sometimes self-absorbed and cruel; and the nightingale representing the lover or the poet who sings endlessly his passion and devotion for the rose. The rose has symbolised god, the prophet or the earthly beloved; the nightingale has represented transcendence of the soul yearning to become one with the beloved.

The theme of rose and nightingale, a subtheme of flower and bird painting was a central imagery in the decorative arts of the Safavid (1501-1722) and Qajar (1785-1925) eras. The origins of this imagery may even be traced back to the 14th century and the Ilkhanid period (1256-1353), where the image of the rose appeared as a distinct motif in illustration of Persian poetry and epic texts, drawing upon its literary images as a metaphor for youthfulness, beauty and young love. From manuscript illustration, the gol o bolbol pattern entered decorative arts and later, during the Safavid period when the city of Isfahan was a major trading centre, the imagery merged with botanical arts and European flower painting genre. It became a distinct form of iconography used to decorate many different objects from ceramics to lacquered boxes and trinkets. The iconography became such an important vestige of Persian repertoire of imagery and culture that, by the late Qajar era, the country was referred to as the “Kingdom of the Rose and Nightingale” in the West.

The current exhibition is a sample of various ways in which contemporary Iranian artists approach the theme. The continued prevalent use of the gol o bolbol in Iran’s contemporary art testifies to its status as an inseparable iconography of the Iranian cultural identity.