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Mahdi Shafizadeh

I was born in Tehran, the capital of Iran. The history of Tehran stretches back 4,000 years. In the past, Tehran had many gardens with different trees and flowers. In the spring when buds opened, you could smell wonderful aromas in most parts of the city. Tehran was famous as a "flower city" also because of its great variety of flowers. Now gardens are not as prevalent as in the past, but each season we have a big "Flower Exhibition" in the city. The exhibition extends over an area of 15,000 square meters and another 4,000 square meters of open space. This international flower and plant exhibition each year welcomes many foreigners from countries like Norway, Italy, Spain, and France, who come to buy or sell different kinds of flowers. Many foreigners come to Tehran to visit our big "flower garden" and also to export many Iranian flowers, such as roses, to theircountries.

I came to Guangzhou to study language. In fact, I originally had planned to go to Italy for my master's degree in painting because I had painted in Iran for 16 years and had a degree from Isfahan Art University. But a great professor of Tehran University, Dr. Marandi, suggested that I come to China to study Chinese and then go back to Iran to teach this  language in a university. I think that suggestion was very good for me and gave a new direction to my life for me to learn many things about one secret countrywith a long history and special culture.

In the year of 2008, I came to South China Normal University to start learning Chinese for two years. After that I started working on my master's degree in Chinese painting at the same university and graduated in 2014. I also have a plan to study for a PhD. in Chinanext year.

Although I was the only foreigner in the Fine Arts College, thanks to my Chinese friends I had a very good life and never thought of myself as a foreigner. Ilived with them as a part of Chinese family.

Mahdi Shafizadeh receives his master's degree certificate
at South China Normal University

One interesting and nice custom in Guangzhou is the way people assist in social activities that I see in many different places such as the Canton Fair, withmany students and young people helping foreigners.

My best times in Guangzhou are when I go to parks or temples taking photos, then go back home and paint them in my working room. In these places, I try to find colors and light. I also look for Chinese customs and culture in such places. I look at people as part of nature. Many of my photos are about nature, especially flowers and plants, focusing on the variety of different colors. I like taking photos on rainy days because of the bright and beautiful colors the rain bringsout.

Among my paintings, I like my first Chinese painting very much. I copied a famous painting from the Song Dynasty, which includes three beautiful flowers, and is called Poppy. I started Chinese style painting with this work, as well as using Chinese materials. It was very exciting for me. Now I can paint in western and Chinese style (gongbi style) and want to try to blend these two kinds of art. I use not only Chinese subjects but also Iranian subjects such as life, customs or culture and then paint them in a Chinese style. For example, I use Iranian motifs or one scene of Iranian life and paint with Chinesematerials and in Chinese style.

One interesting part of Chinese culture is symbols and their meaning. For example, flowers hold a privileged position in Chinese culture. They are considered an indelible part of China's collective consciousness. Chinese believe that flowers such as the lotus, peach blossoms, peonies, chrysanthemums and orchids convey positive messages and play a significant role inthe day-to-day folk life.

One project is to finish my paintings and collect my works for a painting exhibition by the end of 2014. I participated in two group exhibitions at Guangzhou Higher Education Mega Center Art University Gallery in 2010 and at Zhujiang New Town's Guangzhou Library in 2013. But I have decided to show more paintings in a solo exhibition. I will show some of my experiences in Chinese painting. My paintings are in different techniques and styles, such as color pencil, oil color,pastel and charcoal, most of which are realistic.

Sketch of birds and flowers
created by Mahdi Shafizadeh

Portrait created by Mahdi Shafizadeh

(By Mahdi Shafizadeh)
Editor:Lynus Tan
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