Ferdowsi Reads “Shahnameh” (Book of Kings) to Mahmud of Ghazna
Rafael Megall’s work emphasizes how behind the beauty and harmony of nature hide the dangers of aggression. In his recent cycle The Panthers in my Blossoming Garden the figure of the panther becomes a metaphor for this condition of instability and fear. Thanks to saturated colors and contrasts, which recall the digital manipulation the images underwent in the preparatory phases, Megall gives life to seductive paintings that are, not for this reason, serene and calming. For Megall, panthers carry within them the notion of the sublime; they both captivate and evoke fear. Their beauty invites us to approach them, while their majesty and agile movements, and their jaws suggest we keep our distance. In this carousel of emotions the luxuriant nature painted by Megall alludes to lost paradises.
Ferdowsi Reads “Shahnameh” (Book of Kings) to Mahmud of Ghazna draws inspiration from the painting of the same name by Vardeges Sureniants (1860-1921). A painter, sculptor, illustrator, art critic and actor, Surenyants travelled extensively and lived abroad for much of his life, yet he always wished for his art to be closely connected to the events of the Armenian population. In this painting, Megall offers an adaptation—in his own style—that encompasses compressed figures with few essential and contrasting traits painted with flat tones and acid colors. In the original painting the Persian poet Ferdowski reads Shāh-Nāmeh (“Book of King”) to Mahmud of Ghazna, an Afghani king from the Ghaznavid Dynasty. Ferdowsi is considered the main epic poet in Medieval Persian literature, and tells of the national deeds of the kings of Persia. With this painting, Megall wishes to pay homage to Surenyants, who is considered to be the founder of Armenian historical painting and an expert in Armenian manuscripts and miniatures. This sentimental decision (the artist had admired the work several times at the National Gallery of Armenia when he was a student) was motived by the fact that Megall shares with Surenyants a passion for Armenian miniatures, which his paintings are also inspired by.