Legal Vs Illegal in Iranian StreetArt


Illegal StreetArt 2005- Tehran

Written by Karan Reshad (Dec.2005 Tehran – IRAN)

Nowadays urban art has spread throughout the world especially in metropolitan cities and has grown a history. All the urban artists of different interests ranging from murals to those labelled by the society as vandals are trying to impress something worthy. Every where and every surface is covered by writings, colourful images (either monochrome or due-toned) as a graffiti, mural , stencil/wheatpaste and sticker works, images and visual media that are not chosen and confirmed by the government or the officail authorities. This is the potentiality and power underlying urban life with which the young urban generations  are brought up.

The dread and tension, converted in to inspiration and courage that is officially equalled by anarchism(A kind of Socialism with no absolout aim to change any Governing System but rejecting all of them), either elegant anarchy or an art crime.  Regarding the information on internet and other medias ,Graffiti seems to have emerged from the mere darkness and is gradually forming a histoy mingling the past and present, from ancient Times and Cavemen to the latest graffiti movement so far. A hisory which is said to dawn in New York in modern times and is primarily attributed to Taki’s generation tags  .


 The instances of urban art in Modern days of Iran, as far as we know, dates back to the murals,memorials and the gigantic wall paintings by Iranian artists during the Islamic Revolutionary era. the painting were of two separate but aligned views:1-  anti-capitalism and anti- american murals Mostly done by Professional Artists or Trainde Officials 2- Murals and Stencils in commemeration of Revolution’s martyrs

Some of These Serries are Also Availbe in .(see many photos at: Legals Section for Murals and Download Peace pack 2-PDF for Martyre and deadsoldiers stencils photo Documentary.)

After the Islamic Revolution of Iran all the walls throughout the country were enthusiastically but awkwardly decorated by the potraits of martyrs of revolution and war. Since the memory and bravery of these martyrs were of great concern to Iranian nation and government,
the walls kept being trimmed suchlike for so long and and now are somewhat decorated the same way.


These paintings have been mostly ordered by the authrities or were painted in huge sizes as religious signs or as personal praise and acknowledgement. It’s a sort of Misunderstand among visitors who come to iran from Other countries. Most of Them may REcognize them as a sort of Art and not a Shock if you hear some Tourists say ,Ah!!! it’s a peice of modern Mural ,containing 60 portraits of Some men. No! ofcourse they are All Islamic Army and Religious  Leaders of the REvolution and resistance.Lets read  the qoute from Aydin Aghdashlou in an iranian magazine : I saw s wall in one of the northern cities of Iran on which the images of war martyrs( everyone of which created by a different novice artist) were painted next to eachother in frames of the same size. The series of paintings( some of which waiting to potray martyrs images sometime later) are comparable with  101 portraits, an emminent piece by Gerhard Reischter , the reputable contemporary artist.

It s a wonder why the illegal sort of urban art did not appear or boom in those days.We Should consider That this braveness was always in action among with soccer fans and Metal music Lovers who stencil their Favorite Rockers and Logos on Their Neighbourhood . Author believes the absence of graffiti in Tehran before and after the Islamic Revolution refers to different aspects: 1- Unstability in people’s lives during the imposed war and after that,even before the islamic revolution. 2- Dominant pressure on the young and the consequences and dangers of possible crimes(WE don’t have actualy any laws about Graffiti in IRAN) 3- Financial unstability in society and the way people look to culture  4- Young art atmosphere being comprised of uninspiring concerns , thoughtless and shallow ideas, taken from proffessional concepts 5- The absence of obvious and effective ads and bilboards as long as 70s.(as the Sign of Industrial development and growing of Mass Production)

After islamic revolution till late 70s tehran and other cities of Iran , contrary to capitals and other cities in the world were so lucky not to be bombarded by adverts. however, in the very early 80s ( solar calendar) the capital and all the intercity roads as well as other cities of Iran were attacked by bilboards, ads and advertising media.


Legal Street Art – 2011 Tehran

There s a  controversy over whether Graffiti is really of  any concern in internatinal art communitiies  or not.FActs are showing that Street Art is the Today and future’s Art. Therefore it ‘s no wonder why this social phenomenon is not considered to be serious matter and and an art fact(as is better this way). Furthemore,  the ingorance of iranian art society  about graffiti on one hand and  the immitative hobbies and break-aways of some so-called artists on the other hand are threatening Graffiti to be assigned a childish crime or an abnormal act.When every one wants to be a Picasso or Even Davinci Ofcourse we will lack creative minds who can make a contrast.


Of course It s obvious that Graffiti is opposed with the ideals of modern cities and developing nations and hense seems abnormal. In fact
upon personal experience I believe higher walls , destroying the old beautiful houses and replacing them with skyscrapers, wider roads, urban developement, widespreading communications and the flow of knowledge, the separation of the young art from the public art atmosphere, spread and necessity of advertising in civil markets and more efficient security systems all provoke the young who witnessed and is still witnessing the wind of changes , to be too willing to sabotage everything once been built from their blood.

Modern mechanical tools for destroying a house within a couple of minutes , smashing the walls so full of memories and building skyscrapers over its pile of rubbles,do not they really raise doubts  about  the dignity of house and the value of urban area in the minds of juveniles?

Civil development is something that imprisoned the art works in museums and galleries and Graffiti is an objection to a such perception.If you hold Official ,relation needed biennales ,there are guys and galz who stand against you.S you are choosing your gallery ,too far from the Public Society Graffiti is going to Learn,Do and get the profession absoloutly between the public eye.It’s rude ,Yes it is Rude because it is a Contrast to the Public Culture of blue colar society The Artist should be inpolite to get the attention to an existance of Art – an Urban expression .

StreeARt Wheatpaste By FRZ

Illegal StreeARt Wheatpaste By FRZ

Graffiti as is obvious in its instances , emphasizes on change.As the only solution to this crisis, street Art offers urban expression and to be in direct contact with the walls and urban areas and society is obliged to accept it sooner or later.

In this path neither prevention and governmental opposition nor mistakes and people’s disagreements are of any use. Because the appearance of the first painting in a complex city ,like Tehran, can be the basis of a multilateral movement to start an urban we are witnessing it’s roots right now.

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