LONDON - Have you ever stopped in your tracks in front of a magnificent contemporary wall painting in the most unexpected city back street?  Some would say that these modern-day wall paintings rival the finest of early murals (the first being cave paintings!) and are worthy of the same admiration. Are we therefore under-valuing this type of art? Not if Banksy’s success is anything to go by. As Richard Howard-Griffin of the eponymous gallery was explaining to me, once street art evolves into something grander and more compositional, a border is crossed and we are into fine art territory. Mid-way between this, street artists have been known to transpose and adapt their large-scale mural concepts onto the canvas and into the gallery space.


One such artist who makes a successful transition from outdoor walls to the indoors is Iranian Mehdi Ghadyanloo. Critically acclaimed by art journalists from the Huffington Post to the Guardian, Mehdi made a humble start in Tehran as a film graduate in need of money. Answering a municipality call for muralists by the then mayor, he was heartened to discover that the themes were not focussed on calligraphy or martyrs.  Instead he was given a free hand to produce a series through which he intended to ‘gladden the spirit’ of passersby. His motifs often centre on stairways (from Akhavan-Saless), and his dystopian landscapes exude a silence and repetitiveness that are oddly hopeful and sometimes uplifting. He has been called a surrealist because of the symbolism in his work, but to me Ghadyanloo is his own man – a commentator and observer with an eerie eye for irony. With a technique that focuses strongly on colour and composition, Ghadyanloo spends most of his time on planning, sketching and colour-mixing but executes quite rapidly. As soft-spoken as his works, we are invited to enter a special world by this gentle yet magnetic artist whose show this autumn in LA promises to dazzle. 

Mehdi Ghadyanloo's Freshness, Tehran. Courtesy of the artist.
Mehdi Ghadyanloo's Mosque, Tehran. Courtesy of the artist.
Mehdi Ghadyanloo's Folded Walls, Tehran. Courtesy of the artist.
Mehdi Ghadyanloo's Zero Time. Courtesy of the artist.