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Shoreditch made beautiful, Iranian style

PUBLISHED: 13:01 12 March 2015 | UPDATED: 15:29 12 March 2015

Mehdi's art in Holywell Lane.

Mehdi's art in Holywell Lane.

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Impressive street mural is Iranian painter’s first outside home country

Mehdi's work in TehranMehdi's work in Tehran

An artist employed to make his home town Tehran beautiful has set about doing the same in Shoreditch.

For the past eight years, Mehdi Ghadyanloo has been involved in the Beautification Bureau of Tehran’s municipality – which is devoted to the promotion of mural arts in the city – painting more than 100 out of the 800 murals in the project.

This month he painted his first mural outside of Iran in Holywell Street after gallery owner Richard Howard-Griffin invited him to the UK to collaborate on his first exhibition, Perception.

The expansive scale and central location of Ghadyanloo’s murals dominate the visual landscape of contemporary Tehran, a city ranked 82 among the 1099 worst-polluted cities in the world, according to the latest World Health Organisation figures.

Mehdi Ghadyanloo in the Howard Griffin gallery in Shoreditch, where his first exhibition is being shown.Mehdi Ghadyanloo in the Howard Griffin gallery in Shoreditch, where his first exhibition is being shown.

Using optical illusion, he portrays impossible scenes and gravity-defying figures from radically altered perspectives.

Mr Howard Griffin believes Ghadyanloo’s expansive murals are “part of the fabric” of Tehran, and offer an insight into the everyday lived experience of Iranians.

“For Ghadyanloo, the purpose of street art is to ‘beautify’ his grey and polluted city,” he said.

“Though not overtly political, arguably every form of artistic expression in Iran is politicised, especially when that art appears in the public realm.

“Ghadyanloo encapsulates a sense of suspension in the life experience of a generation of Iranians, born after the 1979 revolution – their lives dictated by outside forces and their future always uncertain. This is the generation that is captured within ominous utopian or dystopian environments of Ghadyanloo’s work.

“It was really interesting to work with an artist on a debut exhibition again, his work is significant and expressive, as well as talking about Iranian society it relates to humanity in general. The idea is simple yet expressive.”

Mr Howard-Griffin continued: “This collaboration is significant because he came all the way from Tehran and this is an interesting time in terms of relationships between the UK and Iran, as Iran starts to open up, and it’s great this is happening in Hackney.

“I think it was interesting for him to experience another city and adapt his work to the walls of London, it’s a different architectural layout.”

Perception features original canvas works and a sculptural installation and will run at the Howard Griffin Gallery in Shoreditch High Street until April 2.


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