Recognition of Several Iranian Painting Genres as Islamic Art through the Discourse of Dominant Power

Document Type : Research Article


Assistant Professor of Islamic Art Department, Faculty of Art & Architecture, Tarbiat Modarres University, Tehran, Iran.


Problem statement: Over the last 40 years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has always attempted to deepen the concept of “Islamic Art” in painting to exploit it for reinforcing its conceptual discourse. Hence, some painting genres have been categorized as Islamic art. Such genres may be remnants of previous centuries (Miniature, Illumination, Gol-o-Morgh, New Miniature and Qahvekhane’i paintings) or originate from sociopolitical events of the era with their idiosyncratic content and aesthetics. However, all of them have a similar representation in people’s minds.
Research objective: This study aims to identify articulated predications that convey Islamic meaning according to the regime’s discourse.
Research method: This study employed Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse analysis as well as qualitative content analysis to identify all discourse elements of stated genres.
Conclusion: The findings revealed that the genres of Iranian painting, traditional painting, revolutionary painting, and ‘holy defense’ painting respectively have the following predications: 1) revelatory, mystical, and epic; 2) moral, spiritual, and divine; 3) ideological, propagandistic, and justice-oriented; 4) idealistic, value-based, and resilience. The said predications are centered on the pivotal discourse of the dominant power, i.e., Shia Islam; therefore, all of them can be categorized as Islamic art. In different conceptual realms of historic–civil Islam, each of the said genres, theological–didactic Islam, ideological-sovereign Islam, and political-ideological Islam, has enriched other discourse predications and helped achieve different political goals.


Abolqasemi, M. (2015). On Iranian painting aesthetics. Journal of Iranian Studies, 1(5), 15-32.
Aron, R. (1991). Stages of thought in sociology (B. Parham, Trans.). Tehran: Islamic Revolution.
Asadi, B. (1992). IRI foreign policy. Qom: Islamic development organization.
Asadi, M (2006). Art of Protest, Art of Revolution. Journal of Visual Arts, 7(25), 54-57.
Asadi, M; Nadalian, A (2012). A Study on the Influences of Ideology and Political thinking on Pictorial Elements of Revolutionary Painting. Negareh, 7(25), 65-87.
Atoufi Kashani, T. (2010). Traditionalists. Farhang-e Pazhuohesh, 2(6), 145-168.
 Avini, M. (1991). Eternity and Art. Tehran: Barg.
Avini, S. (2014). Responsible art in service of Islamic revolution. Shamse rastakhiz jan, 1(3), 6-35.
Azhand, Y. (2013). Persian Miniature. Tehran: Samt.
Barati, P. (2014). History of Painting in Iran. Tehran: Ofough.
Binyon, L. (1999). The Historical Path of Iranian Painting. (M. Iranmanesh, Trans.). Tehran: Amirkabir.
Blair, Sh; Blume, J (2008). Mirage of Islamic Art. Journal of Archeology and History, 23(1), 48-92.
Burckhardt, T. (1990). Scared Art, Principles and Values. Tehran: Soroush.
Bureau of Preserving and Propagating Holy Defense Values. (2009). Epic Frames. Qom: Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Canby, S. (2008). Iranian Painting. (M. Hosseini, Trans.). Tehran: University of Art
Dashtizadeh, M., Javani, A. & Sojoodi, F. (2016). Analysis of semantic changes in Islamic art in museum collections. Journal of cultural history, 8(30), 31-55.
Eskandari, I (2006). Iran Revolutionary Art Movement. Journal of Visual Arts, 7(25), 50-53.
Eskandari, I. (2008). Revolution and revolutionist in contemporary Iranian painting. Tandis, (142), 10.
EskandarPoor khorrami, P. & Shafi, A. (2011). Iranian painting representation of the ideal world (based on Sohrevardi’s arguments on the world of idea). Honar-ha-ye-ziba (Journal of Fne Arts), 12(48), 19-28.
Etesam, I., Farahani, R. & Eqbali, S. (2013). Formal developments in the cultural architecture of contemporary Iran. hoviateshahr, 7(14). 25-26.
Ettinghausen, R. & Grabar, O. (2007). Islamic art and architecture. Tehran: Samt.
Farokhi, H. & Eftekhari, E. (2013). Art discourses after the Islamic revolution (case of Cinema). Journal of Cutural Guardianship of the Islamic Revolution, 3(10), 147-180.
Golshani, A., Yarmohammadi, H. & Daneshfard, B. (2016). Effect of Jondishapoor school on Baghdad medical school. Journal of Medical history studies, 2(2), 49-56.
Goodarzi, M. (2008). Revolutionary Painting and Socially Responsible Religious Art in Iran. Tehran: Iranian Academy of Arts.
Honari, Y. & Azarmi, A. (2012). Analysis of establishment and integration of Islamic revolution discourse according to Laclau and Mouffe’s theory. Pazuheshname-ye Enghelab-e Eslami (Journal on Islamic Revolution), 2(8), 95-118.
Hoseinabadi, Z. & Mohammadpoor, M. (2016). Effect of religious coffeehouse paintings on public opinion. Jelve-ye honar, 4(16). 69-78.
Hoseini, R. (2012). History of Iranian Painting. Tehran: Marlik.
Hoseinirad, A. & Khalili, M. (2012). Role of intellectual and sovereign ideologies in Iranian nationalistic modern painting in Pahlavi era. Honar-ha-ye-ziba (Journal of Fine Arts), 13(49), 5-17.
Kafshchian Moqadam, A (2006). Burnt blossoms: Revolutionary Murals Movement. Khial, 1 (3), 14-23.
Kavoosi, V. (2019). Inspection of Islamic art historiography in orientalism, colonization and collection-holding. Honar-ha-ye-ziba (Journal of Fne Arts), 24(4), 15-24.
Khazai, M. (2008). Islamic revolution art. Ketab mah-e honar, 119, 4.
Latifi, Gh. (2016). Holy Defense, a Selection of Street Murals. Tabriz: Sarir.
Mahoozi, R. (2016). Aesthetics in Traditionalist Thought. Tehran: Research Center for Culture, Art and Communications.
Maleki, T. (2010). Modern Iranian art. Tehran: Nazar.
Maziar, A. (2011). Relationship of Islamic art and thoughts in view of traditionalists. Kimiaya-ye Honar, 1(3), 7-12.
Mirhashemi, S. (2012). Art of resistance. Tehran: saghi–association of revolution and holy defense visual arts.
Mohammadivakil, M. & Bolkhariqahi, H. (2019). Comparative study of painting schools in Qajar and first Pahlavi periods opposing modernism in Iran. Negareh, 12(48), 19-33.
Moinaldini, M. & Asarkashani, E. (2014). Development of natural aesthetics in Isfahan school paintings. Jelve-ye honar, 3(9), 77-90.
Mojtahedzadeh, R. & Saa’devandi, M. (2017). Discourse developments of Islamic art in three periods. Quarterly of Islamic art studies, 7(28), 55-75.
Moridi, M. & Taghizadegan, M (2012). Discourses of Iranian national art. Iranian association of cultural and relationship studies. Quarterly of Cultural Studies& Communication, 8(29), 139-160.
Moridi, M. (2016). Discords of realism and idealism in contemporary Iranian painting: an approach to study the sociological history of contemporary Iranian art. Art and literature sociology. Sociological Journal of Art and Literature, 8(1), 81-112.
Panjebashi, E. (2016). Analytical comparative study on bird in Lotfali Shirazi’s paintings. Negareh, 10(39), 60-75.
Poormand, H. & Davari, R. (2012). Kingly Image and Representation of Power in Qajar (Comparative Study of Art’s Fathalishah and Naser-aldinshah Qajar Periods in the discourse of Power). Scientific Journal of Motaleate-e Tatbighi-e Honar, 2 (4), 93-105.
Poorsalimi, M. & Mohajer, K. (2019). Discourse analysis of wartime holy defense painting compared to soviet war paintings. Bagh-e Nazar, 16(73), 5-16.
Qanbari, H. (2016). The Necessity of Islamic Art: Investigation and Critique of Traditionalist View. Tehran: Negah-e Moaser.
Rabiee Poursalimi, M; Afshar Mohajer, K (2019). The Discourse Analysis of the holy Defence’ Paintings during Wartime (in Comparison with Soviet War Paintings). Bagh-e Nazar, 16(73), 5-16.
Rahbar, I., Tavoosi, M., Afhami, R., Sheikhmehdi, A. & Poormand, H (2016). Symbol of legitimacy in Sassanid coins; the case of Qobad the first and Jamasb. Journal of Historical Sociology, 8(1), 209-230.
Rezaei Jafari, M., Aghahoseini, A. & Alihoseni, A. (2019). IRI discourse and the necessity of promoting its values in the era of globalization according to Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory. Journal Strategic Studies of Public Policy, 6(20), 85-110.
Saffaran, E. (2018). Spiritual Customs in Traditional Arts. Tehran: Payame Noor.
Tabasi, M; Ansari, M (2006). Content and Form in the Paining of the First Decade of Islamic Revolution. Journal of Honar-Ha-Ye- Ziba, 27(27), 87-96.
Visual Arts Center of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. (2010). Footprint of Light. Tehran: Soore Mehr.
Zangi, B. (2013). Social functions of murals in Iran (Unpublished Ph.D. art studies Thesis). Faculty of Art & Architecture, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran.
Zangi, B., Ayatollahi, H. & Fahimifar, A. (2012). Social status of murals after Iranian Islamic revolution based on Bordio’s sociological approach. Negareh, 6(24), 85-101.
Zarei, K., Shamloo, Gh. & Hamidimanesh, T. (2018). Effect of coffeehouses on coffeehouse painting. Parseh Journal of Archeological Studies, 2(5), 143-159.