Mehdi Vishkai is considered one of the early Iranian modern artists who, at the threshold of the consolidation of Iranian Modernism, audaciously and unconventionally used the exaggerating qualities of paint and bold, thick brushstrokes. His work is halfway between academic painting and Modernism. These works are characterized by the application of thick layers of paint, inspired by Post-impressionist painters. His most prominent works include portraits and still life paintings that are using diverse colors and strong brushstrokes.
Mehdi Vishkai’s most famous works are the portraits he painted of key Iranian and international figures. He achieved a personal, unique expression in the application of paint. Therefore, traces of passionate brushstrokes are evident in a majority of portraits he created. His swift brushstrokes adequately show Iranian modern illustration at its outset. His dense colors and rapid, enticing and scattered brushstrokes transmit a strong visual tension to his audience. As is evident in this painting, Vishkai rarely uses elaborate patterns and a regular design in laying out his colors. In effect, a combination of such qualities constitutes the phenomenal harmony of color surfaces in Vishkai’s familiar compositions.
Graduating in Painting from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Vishkai developed, in the same way as some early Iranian modern artists did, a fascination for European, especially French, painting of the early 20th century. His works of this period were quite similar to French-style, Post-impressionist and later Fauvist works in terms of the application of paint, elaboration, and thick, swift brushstrokes. The excitement in this group of Vishkai’s works indicates the artist’s new experiment with unconventional, thick brushstrokes, and a chaotically colorful palette. We must not overlook the fresh experiments with Modernism and the ensuing excitement when we try to analyze work of Vishkai and artists of his generation. It is good to know that Vishkai and a few other modern artists were born during the last years of the Qajar rule, at the threshold of profound developments in Iran’s social and cultural structure, when enthusiasm and excitement for Modernism refuted cultural traditions, and time was needed to re-evaluate old traditions of this epoch in the history of Iran.