Tehran 94: A Glimpse into Iranian Graffiti Scene

In a small room on the second floor of a standard Kreuzberg apartment was a fascinating exhibition. Graffiti is big in Berlin, we all know this, and despite attempts to clean up the city it is still symbolic of its character. However, due to political relations, very little is known in the western world regarding Tehran`s graffiti scene. Nonetheless, for a short amount of time, Berlin was given a glimpse of the Iranian graffiti scene. The show displayed the handiwork of seven Iranian artists who are working across the globe.

It was the first exhibition of its kind in Berlin, although it represented only a small part of the Iranian art scene. Hopefully there is more to come, because the art on show left me itching for more. A couple of people noted that it did not represent the Iranian art scene in its truest colours because it ignored the likes of prestigious artists such as Black Hand and Nafir. These artists, who are stylistically similar to Banksy, explicitly attack socio-political issues. Nevertheless, the art on show provided a small glimpse into a large and ever growing scene.

With the works of Bambam and Oham One, most of the pieces were infused with bright clashing colours.  Slightly more garish than what is found in British or German Graffiti, they were incredibly vibrant and alive. Of note was the collection of prints that reproduced the same intricate pattern on top of different photographs of Tehran. Additionally, although none of the pieces were explicitly political, they all had undertones of social commentary. For example, there was a poignant, huge, black and white print of a cat catching a mouse. It was bordered with the Farsi descriptions of Ranj – meaning pain or suffering – and was extremely effective as it complimented the rest of the piece of work. Furthermore, the projection of the artists at work was insightful and not something you see on an everyday basis.

The exhibition was small but worth a visit. It was an inspiring glimpse into an art scene that is popular not only in Berlin, but across the globe.

About the exhibition
More information about graffiti across the world

By Bonny Herington

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