Finding Hope: A Balloon Mural by Mehdi Ghadyanloo Brings Levity to the 2019 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
Iranian muralist and fine artist Mehdi Ghadyanloo is the creator of the poetic mural recently installed in the lobby of the Congress Centre in Davos, Switzerland, where the 2019 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is currently taking place. After participating in the forum last year as one of the speakers, Ghadyanloo contributed a large-scale commissioned painting titled Finding Hope, designed specifically for this event.
The work is comprised of three separate panels installed in the main entry hall of the Congress Centre, and depicts a young girl with a floating red balloon. Although Ghadyanloo was initially challenged by the unusual structure of the inward facing walls, he decided to create a triptych whose parts correlate with each other in both a hopeful and tense narrative. The balloon suggests innocence when paired with the little girl, while noting possible destruction when placed opposite of a sharp needle.
“The audience here has more power to create real change than the rest of the world,” Ghadyanloo tells Colossal, “so this is a good place to touch their hearts and ask them to do something. Not in a direct way as they are used to be asked, but in a kind of a visual, poetic way I would say.”
Last year, joined by a small team of muralists from his hometown, the artist completed Rebuilding the Sky in Almetyevsk, Russia, in similar style to his perspective-challenging and illusion-based works in Tehran. Ghadyanloo wanted to add joyfulness and color to the concrete look of the city. Around the same time, he also painted a piece titled The Fraud and Hope on the rooftop of the OK Center for Contemporary Art in Linz, Austria, which depicts a huge water swirl and a gaping black hole. The piece was created as commentary on the issue of the global warming, melting ice, and the role of water, but also references migration crises and the artist’s personal phobias.
Although Ghadyanloo is known worldwide for the 100 large murals he painted in Tehran between 2004 and 2011, the Iranian artist has taken a little break from public works in the recent years. “I was doing more personal things in my studio and enjoyed to be away from this responsibility that I feel on my shoulder when I work in public,” he explains. “I think now is the time for action, to do more public art projects besides my gallery paintings.” You can view more of Ghadyanloo’s reality-bending murals and paintings on his website and Instagram.