Undiscovered Minimalism: Decoding Woven Tribal Art

November 27, 2012 - Afra Naushad - Arab News

Maktabi Unveils Hidden Persian Treasures

November 26, 2012 - Roberta Fedele - Saudi Gazette

Undiscovered Minimalism: Mazandaran Kilim

Opening: November 13 , 2012   (7:30 PM- 10:00 PM)



In between the Caspian Sea and the Alborz mountains, the Mazandaran area hides little known treasures of Persia. Werner Weber, a Zurich based Oriental carpet dealer, first visited the Mazandaran area in northern Iran in the mid-1990s. In remote villages in the Hezar-jerib area, he and his colleagues discovered powerfully expressive heirloom kilims with ‘minimalist’ abstract designs unlike any others known in the trade.


 These antique carpets hold colors and patterns that evoke modern painting and architecture of the West. The resemblance between the Iranian kilims and Western art are completely coincidental. It is extraordinary that these kilims, created by Persian women in their rural communities, could become such sophisticated textiles reminiscent of works by modern day artists. Heinz Meyer, an art expert, compares the Kilims to contemporary artworks of Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, and Barnett Newman.  


The Mazandaran weaves make an immediate impression due to the diversity of their forms and colors. The coloration of the pieces is generally typified by the softness of the colors, due to the frequent linking of related hues. The main palette of the kilims usually compromises a range of brown, red, and beige shades.  However, in some pieces contrasting colors are also used next to one another, without disturbing the harmony of the overall image. The impression of spontaneity given by the shapes and colors of the kilims begs the question as to whether they are due to an uncontrived or deliberate simplicity, or whether they result from the perfection of an abstract language form. The explanations are debatable and the opinions vary.


 It seems serendipitous that the discovery of the Mazandaran kilims comes at a time when the world is becoming increasingly fascinated with Middle Eastern contemporary art. Discovering this new look in carpets that resembles contemporary minimalism also relates to today’s minimalistic trend in interior design.


 “In this exhibition, we encourage the visitor not only to tune into the secret language of tribal woven art, but also to think outside the domain of ethnography, in an attempt to capture the underlying elements that connect ‘Textile Art’ to simply ‘Art’” - Mohamad A. Maktabi.



Undiscovered Minimalism: The Mazandaran Kilims 

November 13-22, 2012

Athr Gallery - Jeddah

In collaboration with Iwan Maktabi