Mehdi Ghadyanloo (b. 1981) is an Iranian artist who originally came to prominence internationally for his masterful and surrealistic murals created on over 100 massive walls in his native Tehran and then more recently in London and across the United States. Upon answering an open call from the Municipality of Tehran's Beautification Bureau at the beginning of his artistic career, Ghadyanloo set about creating gigantic scale public artworks in his home city depicting scenes of people and places in dreamlike compositions and illusionistic settings evocative of happy and at times surreal conditions. Ghadyanloo’s goal was to enrich the lives of ordinary Iranian citizens in Tehran by offering a fleeting escape from the day to day reality of their lives. During this period he quickly became one of Iran’s foremost public artists.
Subsequently, Ghadyanloo has gone on to achieve widespread global recognition for his utopian and philosophical paintings and sculptures which interrogate universal human precepts such as fear, hope and loss. Through the portrayal of minimal heterotopic environments, paradoxical architectural arrangements, and the repeated use of symbolic elements such as stairs, balloons and aeroplanes, Ghadyanloo invites us to consider new realities, both hopeful and dire. While projecting subtle political commentary through his art, Ghadyanloo is more interested in humanity’s shared ideas and ideals and the universality of our existence.
Ghadyanloo grew up on a farm on the outskirts of Tehran where he worked as a shepherd before going on to study art at the University of Tehran’s Faculty of Fine Arts. During his childhood, Ghadyanloo’s father was a soldier on the front lines of the Iran-Iraq war and the uncertain experiences of war and sanctions has had a lasting effect on Ghadyanloo’s psyche and artistic practice. His lived experiences and autobiographical perspective open a window into the mood of life in Iran today and subconsciously encapsulate a sense of suspension for an entire generation. Although at times sombre, Ghadyanloo’s work conveys hope that change can be effected, and it speaks with joy of what remains glorious in gloomy times.
Ghadyanloo is active on the international stage and his works of art are held in important national museum collections. In 2015 Ghadyanloo was commissioned for a series of murals in London and then in 2016 through a sequence of public art projects in the United States he became the first Iranian artist to be officially commissioned by both the Iranian and American Governments since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Ghadyanloo is a cultural ambassador for the World Economic Forum and will create the art installations for the 2019 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
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