01 Painting, Middle East Artists, Nasser Ovissi’s Rakhsh and the Simorgh, with Footnotes, #60

Nasser Ovissi, (IRAN, BORN 1934)
Rakhsh and the Simorgh, c. 2010

Paint on gold leaf,
70 x 50cm (27 9/16 x 19 11/16in).
Private collection

Rakhsh (“luminous”) is the stallion of protagonist Rostam in the Persian national epic, Shahnameh of Ferdowsi.

The color of Rakhsh is described as “rose leaves that have been scattered upon a saffron ground” and it is first noticed by Rostam amongst the herds of horses brought over from Zabulistan and Kabul. In this first encounter Rakhsh is described as a mighty colt with the chest and shoulders of a lion and it appears to have the strength of an elephant. He is highly intelligent and his loyalty is legendary. No one but Rostam ever rides Rakhsh, and Rakhsh recognizes no one but Rostam as his master. Also, he is the only horse ever that Rostam could ride, since his great strength and weight would kill other horses.

Due to divine favor protecting Rostam, Rakhsh lives an unusually long life. Rostam and Rakhsh both die by the treason of Rostam’s half-brother, Shaghad. More on Rakhsh and the Simorgh

Nasser Ovissi is an American-Iranian painter whose work is characterized by stylized figures of Arabic women and horses. Set amidst geometric patterns and decorative elements, his figures seem to merge into and out of the space behind them. “My work is dedicated to the beauty of life and I hope those who experience my work will walk away with an experience of beauty.” Born in Tehran, Iran in 1934, Ovissi studied Law and Political Sciences at the University of Tehran before studying fine art at Beaux Fine Art in Rome. The artist has achieved numerous awards and honors, including being exhibited at the 1959 Paris Biennial and a Grand Prize at the 1962 Biennale of Fine Arts of Tehran. Ovissi lives and works in Reston, VA. His works are included in the collections of the Contemporary Art Museum in Madrid and the National Art Gallery of Greece in Athens. More on Nasser Ovissi

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