Mehdi Ghadyanloo

Site-specific surrealism steeped in hopeful allegory.

Mehdi Ghadyanloo was born in 1981 in Karaj, Iran, and now lives and works in London, UK.

Career

In 2016, Ghadyanloo became the first artist commissioned by both Iran and the USA since the Iranian revolution in 1979. In total, he has now painted over 100 public murals for the Utopian Tehran Project.

At auction

His painting Finding Hope (Diptych) was purchased in an auction at Sotheby's, London for $42,927 in 2019.

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Practice overview

Mehdi Ghadyanloo is best known for his site-specific, dreamlike murals full of socio-political symbolism. The minimalist compositions depict atmospheric scenes of people and architecture, with a soft colour palette of sandy tones that resemble the urban and rural landscape of Iran. Alongside his public art, Ghadyanloo works in his studio across printmaking, sculpture and painting on canvas. His detailed style evokes both western modernism and traditional Iranian motifs. In particular, Ghadyanloo uses trompe-l’oeil techniques to create powerful illusionary effects which play with light, space, depth, and perception. Having grown up during the Iran-Iraq war, Ghadyanloo’s personal experiences have had a lasting impact on his artistic practice. His oeuvre confronts challenging topics such as war, migration, the refugee crisis, environmental issues, and gender inequality.

The history of public space is central to Ghadyanloo’s practice. After the second world war, many Iranian cities, including Tehran, were westernised in a wave of urbanisation. This erased the traditional architecture that was previously there, creating a new metropolis, which, with its lack of shared public space, greenery, and educational facilities, re-shaped social interactions. Resisting this history, Ghadyanloo uses his murals to reimagine the city: how might a mural encourage a public square to become a site for political activism? How might an uplifting composition on a residential building offer a moment's peace for a passer-by on a bad day? Through these poetic interventions, Ghadyanloo aims to convey an uplifting message, which, in a world clouded by difficulty, is a defiant and optimistic symbol of hope.

"Art can speak of hope by touching the hearts of those who see it.”Mehdi Ghadyanloo