Ghalamdar (B. 1994, Tehran) is a former graffiti artist who remarkably challenged the dominant pictorial material of Iranian street art aiming for developing an aesthetic with particular Iranian markers between the years 2006 and 2015. He is a former Calligraffiti ambassador who was called among the 'four most recognized Iranian street artists who are making their own mark' by Art Radar Journal, and among the '12 artists crucial to the world of Iranian street art' by The Huffington Post.
Ghalamdar’s current practice is based on painting, drawing and illustrating. He is interested in the trauma of how history unfolds. He believes through different stages of life he has always received, and been subjected to, authoritative mega narratives. Therefore, he studies history hoping to find alternative readings from events in order to unlearn the given, in orderto find ‘truth’. Therefore, his practice navigates around the notion of rewiring the self, unlearning and relearning, in order to acquire other possibilities to become.
His works usually depict dystopian dreamy situations facilitated with poetic metaphors, situations in which an open spacious sky suggests hope, where the characters are dynamically mobilised. These dystopian Disneyesque landscapes might seem political due to some of the visual elements such as rockets and eagles, which creates a tension, or conflict between the figures, which often do not make logical sense. It’s like putting Teletubbies in charge of BBC Persian. The lack of rationality might be interpreted as resigning from social and political responsibility for some people but to me it’s quite the opposite. Believing the Absurd is a call for action.
Although his practice is not a direct product of politics, he is socially and politically conscious and of course such knowledge informs his practice. The Webster’s New CollegiateDictionary describes ‘absurd’ as a state, where man exists within an irrational andmeaningless universe and in which man’s life has no meaning outside of his own existence.In such a world, the very act of searching for meaning pushes the curious man into a more unwanted conflict with his universe; that’s the space where Ghalamdar’s paintings happen - a constant struggle for finding reason. A good example of such behaviour would be The Myth of Sisyphus. Sisyphus protests absurdity by continuing it, not by resigning. Perhaps Ghalamdar finds painting and continuing to paint an act of co-operating with life without actually being able to come to terms with it.
Animals, beasts, human-like figures and all the other worldly creatures in his paintings, which are mostly inspired by literature, poetry and fables, especially the Iranian ones, all consist of deep metaphorical scenes. These paintings usually depict confused and mobilized creatures who are looking for meaning- though they finally and ironically find themselves in the middle of a conflict. Ghalamdar hopes that these cartoonish landscapes and characters have a dreamy or otherworldly quality with them as most of his primary sources of inspiration include Albrecht Durer’s religious pamphlets, paintings by Hieronymus Bosch and manuscripts of Persian miniatures.
2017 Nominated for Future.Iran. Award, Foundation Behnam Bakhtiar, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France.
2016 Oct-Nov Artist-In-Residence at 'Art, Social Space and Public discourse in Iran' Symposium, Stanford University, Stanford, USA.
Selected group exhibitions:
2018 Let's Take a Moment, Molecule Restaurant Gallery Lounge, Dubai, UAE. (Curated by Emergeast)
2018 START Art Fair, Saatchi, London, UK.
2018 START Art Fair’s The Collectors Club, Saatchi, London, UK.
2018 Unquiet Landscapes, Plant Noma, Manchester, UK. (Curated by Mel Galley)
2017 Emergeast 4th Edition Auction, Le Cirque (The Ritz-Carlton), Dubai, UAE.
2017 Magic in Monaco, Kamil Gallery, Monaco
2017 Magic in Monaco Auction, Principality of Monaco, Monaco (Organized by Magic Of Persia foundation and conducted by Christie’s)
2017 Ocean can be yours, Gerald Moore gallery, London, UK (Curated by Janet Rady) 2016 Art, social space and public discourse in Iran, Coulter art gallery, Stanford, USA.
2016 Contemporary Iranian Art exhibition and auction, Sotheby’s Los Angeles, Los Angeles, USA. (Organized by Magic Of Persia foundation in collaboration with Sotheby’s)
2016 The Mine Pop-up show XIV, The Mine Gallery, Dubai, UAE.
2016 Art in secret, Alserkal venue, Dubai, UAE. (Curated by Evolve Company)
2015 Iranian embassy in Israel, Julie K. Palace, Jerusalem, Israel. (Curated by Hamabul collective) 2015 Inside-out Iran, Rich Mix gallery, London, UK (Curated by Arts Canteen, Shaghayegh Cyrous and
2015 Calligraffiti Ambassadors, Affenfaust gallery, Hamburg, Germany.
2015 Iranian Urban Art, Graffik gallery, London, UK. (Curated by Shaghayegh Cyrous and Roya Arab)
2014 Few scenes from paradise, Atbin gallery, Tehran, Iran. (Curated by Shakiba Parvaresh)
Selected miscellaneous experiences:
2018 Took part in 'Dammam', a performance by Omid Asadi as part of 'The Ground Beneath Your Feet' group exhibition at Castlefield gallery, Manchester, UK.
2018 Illustrated the "Ta Tash" music album, Saint Abdullah, Boomarm Nation, New York.
2018 Illustrated the "Stars Have Eyes" music album, Saint Abdullah, Purple Tape Pedigree, New York.
2016 Illustrated the book cover of “Fereydun hatte drei söhne”, Abbas Maroufi, Gardoon Verlag, Berlin, Germany.
2016 Pamela Karimi, “Alternative Belongings: Instituting and Inhabiting the Iranian Underground”featured in “After Belonging: The Objects, Spaces, and Territories of the Ways We Stay in Transit”,Lars Müller Publishers, Zurich, 106-107.
2015 Nicholas Ganz,” Street messages”, Dokument Press, Sweden, 50.
2016 'Getting Up: The Politics Of Public Space', Artist talk and panel discussion as part of the 'Art, Social Space and Public Discourse' symposium, Stanford Department of Art & Art History, Stanford, USA.
2015 Artist talk and panel discussion as part of the 'Iran Inside-out' group exhibition, Graffik Gallery, London, UK.