Sunday, 26 March 2017


“To see the Persia of poets and painters, hiding in plain sight behind the much-maligned Iran of our newspaper headlines, would be my fondest wish.” - Pico Iyer

Haydar Hatemi (born March 3, 1945-Hadishahr – Alamdar) is an Iranian of Iranian Azerbaijani origin. artist whose work is based on blends of classical oriental styles such as miniature and tazhib, with some modern elements. His early studies in art started at Tabriz’s Art Academy after finishing high school in Tabriz, Iran. Hatemi is a graduate of the prestigious Fine Arts Academy of Tehran University. He moved to Turkey in 1983. He is one of the most significant artists of the Iranian and Azerbaijani diaspora. He has been working under the commission of the Qatari Royal family for the last decade.

Hatemi, an Iranian Azerbaijani, started painting aged 14, while he was continuing high school in Tabriz. His early studies in art started at Tabriz’s Art Academy after finishing Tabriz middle school, Iran. It was during this time there that he learned the tazhib technique from Master Abduhl Bageri and studied sculpture techniques from Master Ashot Babayan. He continued his art studies at the Art Academy of Tehran and was privileged to be trained under masters Hussain Behzad and Abu Talib Mugimi.

Hatemi soon gained celebrity status during his sophomore year in college when he won the national award for designing the Takht-e-Tavus medal for the international Cancer Society. This award was presented to him by the Queen of Iran, Farah Pahlavi. Hatemi also taught sculpture classes in Shahnaz Pahlavi Art Academy. During his college years in Tehran University, Hatemi won first place in multiple competitions, which included design of the Logo of the Isfahan University and the Logo of the Shahpur Petro-Chemicals. He also designed the gold coins in commemoration of the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire. Between 1972-1978, Hatemi established the Design Art Center in Tehran and produced very large sculptures commissioned by the Mayor of Tehran. His statue of Shah Abbas on horseback is on display at Isfahan’s Square and a statue called Birds and the Rock at Argentina Square in Tehran.

After the Iranian revolution, Hatemi moved to Turkey with his young family in 1983. He continued his painting in Bursa and Istanbul and started the orientalist movement within the Turkish art world. During this period his paintings became part of the Sabancı Collection and many other private collections.

Early in his career, Hatemi took great interest in the tazhib technique and miniature paintings in particular. His main goal to apply his style to Ottoman Empire theme was very well received by the Turkish art scene. His admiration for miniature masters and his desire to apply this to a newer subjects lead to the creation of his “Stories of the Messengers” series in the early 2003 which became his most celebrated and famous series. In these series, Hatemi depicts stories of messengers, which are common to Quran, Bible and Torah. He also paints scenes of old Istanbul, which were commissioned by the royal family of Qatar. The Istanbul series are the best example of this genre.

The painting above highlights several of the styles Hatemi is proficient at. A painstakingly meticulous hand that is able to render fine details, trompe l’oeil effects, luscious vistas reminiscent of past times and historical details that playfully interact with modern touches. In other painting series, the art of Persian miniatures and manuscript illustrations is revived, while other series highlight Ottoman portraiture and scenes from the Holy Books of the Islamic, Jewish and Christian faiths.

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