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<i>Inflated Lion</i> image

2018

Acrylic on canvas

78.7 x 122 inches
200 x 310 cm

Courtesy of the artist and Richard Taittinger Gallery, New York

About

Mehdi Farhadian’s paintings effectively integrate abstract and figurative features to create dreamlike, visually stunning landscapes and city views, inhabited by people and animals commonly engaged in enigmatic acts.

His personal style fuses realistic, expressive and fictional narratives, providing a potent vehicle for his highly personal subject matters, which typically demonstrate his deep concern for Iranian contemporary history. This historical approach addresses political highlights and the everyday life experienced collectively.

His characteristic iconography originates from sources such as the overflowing vegetation of the Khazar bank in Northern Iran, famous Iranian buildings, and recent historical figures. It is this orchestrated variety that makes up Farhadian’s entirely subjective original imagery.

Having lived his whole life in Tehran, Mehdi Farhadian has a deep connection to the city. The Lion is a longstanding symbol of Iran and this work, plays with this symbolism. It presents an idyllic dream like image of an imagined future.

Farhadian was born one year after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, which overthrew the Shah of Iran and established a conservative Islamic theocracy. While he has a sense of what life was like in the decades before his birth, he has no direct experience of it. Access to books and images from archives of earlier periods of Iran’s history sparked Farhadian’s imagination and allowed him to conceive of a Tehran that could have been.

This work conveys celebratory spectacle, with the immense lion shaped balloon, the fireworks, and the jubilant people in the frame. Simultaneously, an ominous tone permeates the piece as the deep colors contrast and fill the canvas, and the lion’s open mouth bares sharp teeth.