The grand conductor of a magical orchestra made of paint and dreams

In our recent interview, Adel Younesi labelled his work as “social surrealism”. Looking at his early works helps explain this thinking and the roots of the fantastical paintings he makes today.

He tells me how in the early days he spent many hours, just standing in the street and looking. At the people, the fruit sellers, corner shops and passers-by. Influenced greatly by impressionist techniques, he dragged their methods and brush strokes to express contemporary Iran.

adel 1

For some years he continues to observe, look and see. Registering form and mastering the technique of seeing but also imagining. Laying the groundworks for the rich complex work he is know for today.

adel 2

An important shift appears to have taken place in 2009. The year he tells me, he discovers love. It seems to have rendered the societies he painted weightless and able to float in space and time.

adel 4

I ask him about the series of work he produced in 2011. Whilst the people are certainly of this world, they are placed in a very different mise en scene. He credits late Medieval literature as an influence, telling me he would often channel personalities of this time and imagine how they would paint.

adel 7

When looking at Adel’s work, people often ask, why does he paint clowns, or cows or why are these characters sinking etc. Discussing these types of questions with him proves to me once more that this approach to Adel’s work is futile. I don’t believe he is an artist who sets out to express his hidden messages to society through his work. Nevertheless, the complexity of his paintings is unquestionable. They are simply like a complete work of theatre. Everything is there, melancholy, drama, joy, despair. It’s the whole package.

adel 8

Herds of zebras and elephants arrive on the scene, the world is seemingly coming to end, the musicians continue to play, the act is reaching its climax.


Simply put, Adel is the grand conductor of his orchestra of characters. He guides them to places beyond their imagination, through time, through space. All to the delight and excitement of his mesmerised audience.

adel 9

 * * *

Adel Younesi lives and works in Tehran. He is producing a new series of work to be exhibited between 5-15 March 2015 at the YPA pop-up show at Stattbad Wedding in Berlin under the theme Hope Dreams Desire.

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