‘Rukh’ by Niky Motekallem
Artist: Niky Motekallem
Medium: Gouache and pencil mounted on wooden panel
Dimensions: 8″ x 8″
Year of Creation: 2020
About the Artwork:
“In Persian stories, the Rukh is a massive bird. There are several versions of this creature from different stories across cultures. But they all agree, it’s enormous. It preys upon large beasts, capable of picking up elephants and carrying them away. Familiar figures like Sindbad and Aladdin have encountered them in the Tales of One Thousand and One Nights. And strangest of all: devouring the flesh of a young Rukh offers agelessness.
This rendition of the Rukh depicts it as a black kite bird, which are common in the mountains of Iran, along with two alpine flowers that are found there: saxifrage (which roots itself in rocks), and a type of peony species that originated in Iran, paeonia wendelboi.
Persian mythology and stories often talk of magical birds. Rulers of avifauna. I think that’s why I am so drawn to them and often make them the subjects of my work.” – Niky Motekallem
About the Artist:
Niky Motekallem is an Iranian-American artist that resides in Minnesota. Her work depicts flora and fauna in the cycle of decay and rebirth using vibrant colors and detailed lines as influenced by Persian motifs. When she isn’t making gallery work or freelance illustrations, she is taking hikes to identify the flora, rummaging through antique shops for a new find, figure skating, or concocting new decadent tea drinks (at least, she would be doing most of these things, if there wasn’t a pandemic).