Iranian artist Mehdi Ghadyanloo performs on the Almine Rech London

Iranian artist Mehdi Ghadyanloo performs on the Almine Rech London

The Untold Stories by Mehdi Ghadyanloo is on view at the Almine Rech, Grosvenor Hill, London from 1st March to 6th April 2023.

At first glance, Mehdi Ghadyanloo’s current series of paintings consists of a number of simple components: light and color. The traditional components of painting. plus boxes. painted. Open to the front. Acts as a kind of framework. You could also say traditional. And then, of course, there’s the use of all of that – light, color, boxes – to create the illusion of a closed, three-dimensional space. Often lit from above via a circular opening in the box. Some kind of headlight. And in the boxes under the light are a number of brightly colored children’s toys and playground slides and rides (configured in a way the artist invented), all rendered as if, well, thanks to the artist’s ability to create Trompe l ‘oeil, fresh out of the box.

Mehdi Ghadyanloo, The God of the Rainbow, 2022

There’s a grinning, plush, child clown whose colorful outfit dispels any fears of an It-like manifestation. A song of innocence, if you will. Other boxes contain a toy elephant on wheels painted a glossy red, or a similarly designed white wooden horse. Or a more modern playground horse made up of translucent, plastic-looking silhouettes mounted on a spiral spring. Another variant offers a kind of unicycle in an aluminum look, from which a horse’s head rises. And the handles that make it mobile. Despite all the closedness, sometimes even claustrophobia, the boxes also offer a space for the imagination. A leeway. A memorial to the joys of childhood. A form of nostalgia for us adults. Or hope for those of us who think the time to play is over.


As early as 1938, in a book entitled Homo Ludens, the Dutch historian Johann Huizinga suggested that play was a cornerstone in the development of culture. In it he proposed the following definition of his subject: “You could call it a free activity that deliberately stands outside of “normal” life as “not serious”, but at the same time takes the player intensively and completely. It is an activity that is not linked to any material interest, no profit can be made from it. It operates within its own limits of time and space in a fixed and orderly manner. It encourages the formation of social groupings which tend to surround themselves with secrecy and, through disguise and other means, emphasize their difference from the common world.’ Each of these elements is one that Ghadyanloo pronounces.

GhadyanlooMehdi Ghadyanloo, The Forgotten Flower, 2023

Our eyes follow the free movement of its slides, suggesting the activation of the toys, moving freely through an ultimately two-dimensional space. We’re absorbed. And manipulated a little. We are following the artist’s suggested rules for these games. Albeit subtle.

And it’s a mix of regulation and freedom that also governs the artist’s movements. “For me, it’s more architecture,” says Ghadyanloo. “You place an element, make it bigger, smaller, change the light and color and everything. It’s a process. You love something like a toy and to make it your own you have to modify it in terms of shape, height, curves, colors, light, shadow, shine, contrast and everything else. It’s like many factors of design and challenge for me. When I have everything and start painting the idea, when I finish the painting, like a blueprint for an architectural building, when it’s finished, another process starts again, because you see it in reality. You start modifying it, changing it, and it’s a never-ending process.” From the game.

Mehdi Ghadyanloo – The Untold Stories
March 1 – April 6, 2023
Almie Rech
Grosvenor Hill, House Broadbent
W1K 3JH London UK

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