21 year old Sepehr Mesri lives in Tabriz and is a mean sketcher. The pencil and Sepehr are besties. He draws the faces of his friends, the people he admires and the folk he finds inspiring. By adding bursts of color, Sepehr energizes his subjects making complete but very current works of portraiture. His subjects are from all over Iran and are mostly young – very young, and thanks to Facebook I have Internet-stalked them all. Privacy is so yesterday!
Sepehr’s friends are photographers, actors, designers, musicians, band members, all-round coolness aficionados – living and working in different cities in Iran.
Portraiture has always been a mirror reflecting the faces that define a specific moment in time. Kings, queens, noblemen, peasants, conquerors. In the same way, Sepehr shows us the 2015 face of Iran.
Sepehr’s portraits have something important in common, they all have a determined “my way or the highway” look on their faces. These portraits tell us that this new generation (and remember, more than 60% of Iran’s population is under the age of 30) are not interested in waiting. They are here, they are true, and they are defining the future.
I am now 33 years old and for me the Iran of the past decade has been defined by “waiting” – waiting for a better president – waiting for a change in regulations – waiting for the lifting of sanctions. Looking at Sepehr’s works makes me feel that by living a new truth, their own truth, the new generation has unwittingly made the waiting game go away.
Yet this new generation is not the result of a rejection of the past or Iranian identity. Its protagonists seem simply to have a healthy attitude towards being Iranian. They play traditional instruments (Sepehr plays many Persian string instruments including Setar), they eat traditional food (regional produce are so “in” right now) and they understand the value of heritage. For whatever reason, they represent a generation that doesn’t carry the hangups of the past and are free simply to embrace the future.
Sepehr Mesri, his friends and his generation are surely the ones to watch.