First person to paint walls of Tehran
A1one is the street name of a visual artist who has created graffiti and street art in Iran.
He was the first person who started painting on walls of Tehran so his nickname ended up being “Alone” which then mutated into A1one. He started his street art project in 2003 and inspired his close friends at that time to also begin painting on the streets. Artists such as Elle, Isba, K.T. and Magoi were the first people to join him in Tehran. He is one of the pioneers of the urban art scene in the Middle East. With his public art, he describes his view on the Iranian society and puts himself regularly in danger. When he began, it was at a time when nobody even knew what graffiti was in his country. He has also been known and called as Iranian Banksy just because of his importance in the rise of street art and stenciling within Iran, for art lovers and ordinary people.
“Graffiti and art in streets for me is not a trend or a beautiful hobby and if someday it is allowed by the whole society i will refuse to continue practicing it… what i see today as StreetArt is not what i have expected a decade before. For me this Streetartertainment is a misunderstanding, a puppet show or a Media trick. Art is uncontrollable, untouchable and humanistic… it is the way i see it.”
A1one’s art world is dynamic and made of various styles, from portraits to calligraphy and funky characters, which he mostly uses for his stickers. A1ones artworks combine both, Persian calligraphy and Western graffiti. His art has been documented by many photographers and featured in Art Asia Pacific Magazine.
When A1one first started his career as an artist his images were “not political”, according to the artist, but instead they were meant to be solely expressive—which one could argue, is in turn, political. His images were meant to spark silent conversation with and between other inhabitants of the tumultuous city.
His inspiration: “Passion to talk loud and hate to be silent when I need to shout.”
After his first spray painted work was completed on a freeway underpass, he received 3 calls from friends who recognised his work. Shortly after he formed a crew of artists who would join him in the expression of oppression through graffiti. The crew has developed since then and members have filtered in an out. Now the members of the A1one’s crew interact solely by email and other forms of social networking online—though the artist hopes to meet the members of his crew at some point, it is safer and easier to communicate via the internet. Since the 2009 elections, A1one’s art, like those of his crew and other crews, has entered the realm of protest art.
He has been arrested several times and signed agreements with police not to work in streets. The management of the Iranian artist’s forum did not understand his aim and stopped him and called the police. In 2012 A1one was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security (Iran), under the charge of social and political reasons and was held in Evin Prison for 10 days at Ward 209.