Mehdi is an Iranian artist from Tehran returning to London for his 2nd Solo exhibition with Howard Griffin Gallery. His style isn't one that you would immediately associate with street art and he brings an alternative perspective to the use of murals on the streets. Using the Trompe-l'œil technique of using perspective, light and shadow to create eye-fooling illusions coupled with a surrealist representation, Mehdi delivers some very clean and cleverly constructed work.
Whilst he does paint on the streets of Tehran these murals are all state sponsored and so challenges the pretext of being defined or marketed as a street artist in a state where illegal graffiti (or street-art) can bring severe punishment and retribution. There is no question of his skills as an artist or as a muralist and it is more of a personal gripe at the mis-use of the terms when there are others genuinely putting their lives at risk to voice their views in the form of graffiti and street art.
The scene had been set for the show, a departure from the usual HGG Shoreditch location this was a huge space as part of the University Campus. We had already been treated to a few live feeds from Mehdi of the progress of the fit-out and it was clear the artist was very proud of how it was all coming together. The space was massive which increased the anticipation of what we would see come opening night.....
Having to take what seemed to be the 'Tradesman's Entrance' we were lead around to through to a huge industrial type facility, stepping into the darkness of the huge hall you were presented with a life-sized sculpture of a group of people hanging from a single rope. As a centre-piece it was visually stunning and immediately drew much admiration and discussion. Apparently it was printed with a 3D Printer !
I'm not convinced the sculpture alone was enough to fill such a huge space, having seen the hangar type building on the live feeds I just expected a little more. There was a huge canvas shown in the live feed which was still being worked on so maybe that was also intended for the space but never made the deadline.
To one side there was a wide corridor-like space presenting the etchings which were beautifully produced, the images were very small but the detail within them was so fine and precise, even Mehdi's signature looked like it had been written under a microscope. The skill required to be able to achieve the level of detail in such tiny proportions was amazing to see.
The canvas room housed a large number of works spread across the outside walls. As you would expect from Mehdi they were all a good large size, very clean, crisp, imagery. The pieces were lit perfectly, unfortunately the lighting in the room was also from spotlights and with so many people flocking to see the show there were a lot of shadows cast across the pieces and it was very difficult to take them in properly. I hope to be able to get back there but the show ends on the 5th March so its gonna be tight.