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  • Pejman Rahimizadeh:A Magnificent Storyteller
  • Sahar Tarhandeh (bio)

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One of the most talented among the younger generation of Iranian artists, the illustrator, painter, and graphic designer Pejman Rahimizadeh was born in 1970. He graduated with a Master of Arts in Visual Communication from the Department of Art and Architecture of Azad University in Tehran in 1995. Before entering the field of children’s illustration, Rahimizadeh got his start working for several years in advertising, magazine publishing, and the printing industry and has been a freelance graphic artist and illustrator ever since. He has illustrated over sixty children’s and young adults’ books and has also designed approximately five hundred book covers. Today he is one of Iran’s leading illustrators; he is a versatile and complex artist, able to draw on his vast repertory of theoretical and practical experience in his art yet at the same time keep his finger on the pulse of the rhythms of today’s increasingly sophisticated young readership.

For more than twenty years, Rahimizadeh has been developing his own personal style, gaining him widespread recognition in Iran as well as abroad. He is a very sincere artist, true to his roots, and adhering to the best Iranian traditions of children’s book illustration. He puts his heart and soul into his work, making each illustration a veritable labour of love. His work appeals to the hearts of children and young adults, ushering them into a world full of mystery and beauty. Each of his books, while distinctly marked with Rahimizadeh’s signature style, is unique with its own atmosphere and mood. In fact, one can say that his works are remarkable for their diversity and innovation. While being hugely popular with the audience for which they are intended, they have also been the subject of academic studies, Rahimizadeh himself being a university teacher. His interpretations of the varied works he has illustrated are never mere mimetic depictions of his subject matter, simply echoing whatever the author has written; Rahimizadeh manages to burrow his way underneath a text, showing what has been told but amplifying it with layer upon symbolic layer so that the resulting visual image offers an exhilarating counterpoint to the text on the page. In fact, in his books, text and illustration function in tandem to an extraordinary degree, a feature which is manifestly palpable in his latest work Rostam and Esfandiyar.

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Rostam and Esfandiar by Marjan Fouladvand

The King has promised to hand over the crown to his invincible son, Esfandiyar, as his successor. However, in no hurry to do so, the old king has been sending his son out on various missions testing his fortitude. So far, his son has always met all the challenges and won all the battles his father has charged him with. This time his father sends him to battle against an opponent for which he is no match …

Through broad strokes; solid, classic forms; and bold, upright lines in natural and man-made structures as well as regular and repetitive arrangements of illustrative elements, the artist succeeds in conjuring up the heroic warrior culture required by this familiar chapter drawn from the national epic of Iran. The use of exaggeration in parts of the body imparts a physical masculinity to this story of ancient super-heroes. In addition, attention to hairstyle, costume, and accessories aid the contemporary reader in making better sense of the more obscure parts of the text. Arrangement of natural and artificial props alongside the characters is reminiscent of a theatre scene. It is [End Page 39] as if natural elements, trees, and architectural spaces (particularly interiors) have been sketched on a curtain and the characters are the dramatis personae on a stage. This type of approach to illustration is different in respect to the illustrator’s other works and reflects a modern attitude towards well-known text.

Rahimizadeh chooses his texts with great care. The tales of some of Iran’s great storytellers have been illustrated by him. Some, more than others, readily lend themselves to the full extent of his creative and technical abilities...


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