Iranian artist Ebrahim Haghighi’s new rug collection with Farahan Carpet is a joyful expression of colour and word. Lucy Upward talks to the collaborators.
In the words of Ebrahim Haghighi, ‘Poetry is still the purest of human arts to be created by a pen and some paper or if not, by the marks of a stick on sand or if not, by the flow of language into ears.’ Thus wrote the highly acclaimed Iranian graphic designer artist in his editorial column ‘Handmade: Immortality of Poetry and Thought’ for NESHAN, the Iranian graphic design magazine. With over forty years of experience in art and design, award-winning creative Haghighi understands a thing or two about expressing oneself in different media. His prolific work within the Iranian film industry started with designing film posters in 1969 and diversified into designing sets and film production. Alongside this he has produced paintings, designed books and worked on the illustrations and graphic design for numerous book, magazine and poster projects. From 2020 to 2022 the focus has been rugs: a collection of carpets made in collaboration with Farahan Carpet based on a number of Haghighi’s calligraphy paintings. ‘About thirty-five years ago, I brought some of my designs and paintings to Shiraz for weaving,’ explains Haghighi. ‘With the cooperation of theQashqa‘i nomads, I succeeded in weaving several gabbeh, which I exhibited and sold. Four years ago, I decided to produce some carpets from the creations I have been doing with Persian calligraphy for many years. I contacted many rug producers in Iranian cities, including Farahan Carpet, which led to successful cooperation.’
Both the gabbeh and these new works are a continuation of Haghighi’s oeuvre, based on his designs and paintings with tweaked compositions and colours that work with the texture and hue of the wool. Mostafa Farahani, sales and marketing manager of Farahan Carpet, tells me that the rugs are made of 100% hand-spun natural dyed wool from the Zagros Mountains. ‘Mr Haghighi sent us some of his designs back in October 2021. We then had a meeting so he could select the exact colours he wanted.’ As we go to press, the final pieces from the collection are about to be delievered to the artist.
The collection goes under the name of KhatNegareh, a title Haghighi has give to ten of his previous exhibitions of silk-screen printing, acrylic
painting or digital printing on canvas. In Farsi negaren means to draw and khat translates as lines or rules, so the title refers to a type of line drawing done in Iran.
And in these Khat-Negareh rugs it is the line that expresses the true message. As with Haghighi’s other work, the colour of each rug gives it an individual voice, so the choice of hues was therefore crucial. ‘In any visual work, be it painting, graphics, photos or textiles, colour plays a very important role in the composition,’ he says.
‘Here the creation became a little more difficult due to the limitation of vegetable dyes for wool.’ In the end Haghighi and Farahan Caprpet achieved the bright colours—and against these the scripts tell a story of their own. Each rug has a different hand, a different energy, and depicts a different piece of poetry. The script has points of intensity and quieter moments, like a passage of music. Poetry, music, art, expressed in a handknotted rug collection.
Each rug title tells us much about the design’s meaning and takes a few words from the poem expressed within. Spring Laughed is a playful explosion of colour while the title Do Not Look at the Wrong Shape tells us the whole sentence, expressed with great feeling in the design. Set to be part of a future exhibition alongside paintings by Haghighi, these designs are certainly an energetic expression of line and word, perhaps more permanent as a statement in a hand-knotted rug than just the marks of a stick in the sand.