FORBES: How Iranian Artist Mehdi Ghadyanloo Brings ‘Hope’ to the World (Economic Forum 2019)

It speaks of better life chances and new ways of doing things. I think especially of equality of opportunity for young women. They should have the ability not just to plan their dreams but to achieve them. Art can speak of hope by touching the hearts of those who see it. Here at Davos, I wanted to use imagery that was poetic and designed to exert a subliminal influence on those with the power to effect real change in the world.

“Finding Hope” by Iranian Artist Mehdi Ghadyanloo for the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum 2019 in Davos

In your opinion, how can ‘Hope’ transform the world?

Just think of what our lives would be like without it. We need joy and colour to make life better. There’s always work to do and the positive outcomes we all want will, of course, take time. I’d love to see a world where girls can go to school without worry and where conflict is written into history not daily life.
Why have you chosen to portray the girl, a red balloon, the threaded needle and the wall within your piece?

I think it’s important for everyone who sees my art to give it just a little more contemplation. Yes, there is always a place for a clear, sharp message. However, I prefer a more measured approach – one that prompts many questions and teases out the answers. Putting the elements of the mural together, it’s a parable about opportunity, equality, threats and barriers. It represents my sense of responsibility towards the next generation and our duty to care about economic, environmental and moral issues. I wanted to make the most of the available space and huge scale right at the heart of the World Economic Forum. It was ideal for the sort of visual effects I create – ones that challenge the perceptions of the viewer. There’s light and shade. There’s a question around walls confining us but also urging us to scale them. Will the balloon rise or fall? Will the girl be able to achieve all that she wants in life? I want you to see that she is tired but also hopeful.


“Finding Hope” by Iranian Artist Mehdi Ghadyanloo for the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum 2019 in Davos

The needle, being threaded, can create but destroy too. The sky shows both its beautiful blue but also the gathering of clouds. What I’m trying to do here is to provoke debate and discussion. I’m not setting out to tell a direct story. Instead, I want to create an atmosphere at a specific moment in time where everything is suspended like the calm before the looming storm. That’s why we need to keep hold of hope as it gives us the energy to keep moving to change the world. I not only like the idea of delegates seeing the image every day but want them to return to it in their minds to question what they really saw – perhaps that will help to shape their future actions…