Rostam 2—The Return Series by Siamak Filizadeh
In his ingenious mixed-media series Rostam 2—The Return, Iranian artist Siamak Filizadeh draws upon the rich literary and visual traditions of the Shahnama or Book of Kings. As with other literary masterpieces, the Shahnama, the Iranian national epic, has an appeal and an elasticity that has allowed successive generations to discover or invent new meanings. In his retelling of the classic Persian tale, Filizadeh bypasses its universalities in favor of more specific social commentary. His skillful blending of anachronistic and contemporary details carry the viewer from the mythical realm of Iran’s greatest champion—Rostam—to the artist’s take on the kitsch consumerism and popular culture of today’s Tehran.
The Rostam 2 series consists of sixteen prints, most of which are in the form of digitally constructed images juxtaposing photography, illustration, and graphic design. They combine to create an implausible reality for the mythical hero Rostam. The series was acquired by LACMA in 2011. The exhibition allows visitors to explore the artist’s satirical manipulation of cultural literacy and national identity through his clever and seamless refashioning of this ancient account.
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This installation was made possible by Art of the Middle East: CONTEMPORARY and Farhang Foundation, with additional support provided by the American Institute of Iranian Studies and the Karl Loring Trust.
Image: Siamak Filizadeh (Iran, b. 1970), Untitled from the Rostam 2 series, 2009, Digital print on canvas, Purchased with funds provided by the Karl Loring Trust and Art of the Middle East CONTEMPORARY, M.2011.45.2, © Siamak Filizadeh.
As I mulled over LACMA’s new installation Rostam 2–The Return, I found myself thinking: “What on earth do Superman and Rambo have to do with one of Iran’s oldest texts?“ Rostam 2–The Return, on view on the fourth floor of the Ahmanson building, is drawn from the museum’s ever-growing permanent collection of contemporary Middle Eastern art..