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07/13/08

Death of a Teahouse Painter: Ahmad Khalili (1943-2008)


TEHRAN, July 13 (Mehr News Agency) -- One of the last survivors of Iranian teahouse painting, Ahmad Khalili died of lung cancer at Tehran's Kasra Hospital on Saturday evening. He was 64 years old.

He taught a small number of students in his small atelier in southern Tehran before the illness developed.

Ahmad Khalili
Ahmad Khalili

The Qajar-era Azari Teahouse, which was restored by Tehran Municipality in 1993, was a favorite haunt of Khalili over the past few years. Some of his paintings hang in the teahouse.

Khalili was born in Qazvin in 1943. When he was two years old, his parents relocated to Karvansara-Sangi, a suburb of Karaj near Tehran. Later when he was four years old, they moved to Tehran.

Ahmad learned painting, woodcarving, and sculpting during childhood.


An Iranian traditional wedding ceremony has been depicted in a teahouse painting by Ahmad Khalili
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click image to see high resolution)

At 16, his father, a traditional architect, introduced him to Mohammad Modabber, one of veterans of the teahouse painting genre, in order to learn the art.

He also was the student of Hossein Qollar-Aqassi, a pioneer of this genre.

Ahmad faced difficulties after his father died in 1967. He had to work to earn a livelihood to support his family, but he was hired by the state-run TV in 1975 to work as a painter in a section that made stage decorations. He retired from the position in 1995. However, he never ignored his career as a teahouse painter.


click image to see high resolution

His paintings have been put on display along with other works created by other masters of this genre in numerous galleries both in Iran and abroad.


Iranian teahouse painting

Religious stories and Iranian epic legends feature prominently in Iranian teahouse painting.

With their own unique perspective not used in other styles of painting, artists of this genre draw motifs based entirely on their imagination.

Unfortunately, Iranian artists and cultural officials have neglected Iranian teahouse painting over the few past decades and most of the masterpieces in this genre have not been properly cared for by their owners.

Many of Iranian teahouse painters such as Hossein Qollar-Aqassi, Modabber, Hossein Hamedani, Abbas Bolukifar, and Mohammad Hamidi, died as unknowns.

Some of the artists such as Hamedani and Hassan Esmaeilzadeh, who have passed away in recent years, had repeatedly called on Iranian cultural officials to increase their efforts to revitalize this unique Iranian art form by holding workshops and courses, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

... Payvand News - 07/13/08 ... --



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