“Tablet of Being”: Persian Painting and the Demiurgic Artist in Fifteenth Century Iran and Central Asia


Tue, October 27, 2015, 5:00 - 7:00pm
370 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley

Lamia Balafrej, Assistant Professor of Art, Wellesley College

In the fifteenth century, Persian book painting becomes filled with extra-textual figures, deviating from and subverting the textual story they supposedly illustrate. Through a careful analysis of aspects of facture and composition, combined with an exploration of primary art historiographical sources, this talk suggests that this departure from illustration transformed the painting into a reflexive medium commenting on art itself, its function and its status, and above all, its relationship to God’s creation. Through the proliferation of forms and its polished appearance, the painting becomes a catalog of ideal, primordial forms, paradoxically emphasizing both its unmade aspect and the Demiurgic talent of the painter.

Lamia Balafrej is an Assistant Professor of Art at Wellesley College working on the Islamic world. Her current book project examines the visual culture of late Timurid painting (c.1470-1500) and its intersection with shifting paradigms of authorship and issues of reception. She has degrees from the Sorbonne, the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and the University of Aix-Marseille, and held a number of research fellowships in France, Turkey and the United States.

Co-sponsored by the History of Art Department.