Stair­way to heaven: Ira­nian artist's wall mu­ral turns heads

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

In a canyon walled by drab gray and brown high­rises, a ragged line of men, women and chil­dren hold red he­lium bal­loons, as­cend­ing a stair­case that ends in a spi­ral at an open­ing in the roof, where a sin­gle gi­ant bal­loon slips into the blue sky. Two peo­ple at the top lift their heads in won­der. Seen by thou­sands of eyes a day at one of Bos­ton's busiest in­ter­sec­tions, the gi­ant out­door mu­ral by Ira­nian artist Me­hdi Ghadyan­loo is a stun­ning ex­pres­sion of op­ti­mism he hopes can lead to bet­ter un­der­stand­ing be­tween his home­land and the United States.

The 76-by-70-foot mu­ral, painted on the side of a build­ing across the street from South Sta­tion, ap­pears al­most three-di­men­sional, as if the ad­mirer can join the line and find out what great se­cret awaits above. "I wanted to cre­ate some­thing hope­ful, es­pe­cially now you al­ways you see so much bad news from all around the world," Ghadyan­loo said. "I think what we need as hu­mans is hope to keep go­ing and en­joy our lives."

It's the fifth mu­ral at the site com­mis­sioned by the Rose Fitzger­ald Kennedy Green­way Con­ser­vancy , which over­sees a nar­row, 1.5-mile-long strip of land cre­ated when the el­e­vated high­way that used to run through the city was torn down. Ira­ni­ans and Amer­i­cans don't re­ally un­der­stand each other, Ghadyan­loo said. The US has not had diplo­matic re­la­tions with Iran since 1980, the year after 52 Amer­i­can di­plo­mats were taken hostage at the US Em­bassy in Tehran. Ghadyan­loo, 35, had not even been born yet.

But he wants Amer­i­cans to know that de­spite po­lit­i­cal ten­sions, Ira­ni­ans and Amer­i­cans are not that dif­fer­ent. They have dreams, they yearn and they love. His art, he hopes, can ex­plain that. "I think art is the in­ter­na­tional lan­guage," he said. "It's like a bridge be­tween all cul­tures." Ghadyan­loo stud­ied hos­pi­tal ad­min­is­tra­tion at the Univer­sity of Tehran but found it bor­ing. He soon dis­cov­ered art was where his pas­sion and tal­ent lay. After grad­u­a­tion in 2004, he an­swered an open call from the Ira­nian cap­i­tal's beau­ti­fi­ca­tion bu­reau to sub­mit pro­pos­als for mu­rals to brighten the city. He ul­ti­mately painted more than 100 be­tween 2005 and 2012. But he be­came weary of paint­ing mu­rals, un­til he was on­line and saw a pre­vi­ous mu­ral on the same Bos­ton build­ing - which is ac­tu­ally an air in­take for a subter­ranean high­way - by the Brazil­ian twins known as Os Ge­meos. "I said, 'This is the wall that can be next for me,'" he said. Across the ocean, Lu­cas Cowan, the Green­way's public art cu­ra­tor, was al­ready an ad­mirer of Ghadyan­loo's work. "I'd been fol­low­ing him for about two years and when I con­tacted him through Face­book to see if he'd be in­ter­ested in do­ing some­thing in Bos­ton I was thrilled he al­ready knew the space," he said. "Spa­ces of Hope" will stay up for a year be­fore be­ing cov­ered up by an­other mu­ral, and Ghadyan­loo ac­cepts his work's fate. "At least I can have a lit­tle bit of a pos­i­tive ef­fect on ev­ery­one's life," he said.

— AP

In this file photo, Me­hdi Ghadyan­loo, from Tehran, Iran, poses with his mu­ral, ‘Spa­ces of Hope,’ on the Rose Kennedy Green­way in Bos­ton.

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