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Alone in Tehran.jpg
A1one A.k.a Tanha,
Born Karen Rashad
Tehran, Iran
Known for Graffiti
Street art
Underground art
Islamic graffiti
Social commentary

A1one (/əˈln/) (Persian: تنها‎‎) is the pseudonym of Karen Rashad, an Iranian visual artist who pioneered graffiti and street art in Iran.[1] His career as a street artist began in his hometown, Tehran.


A1one studied for 5 years at an unknown university before being expelled by the school's president following a religious disagreement.[2]

As A1one was the first person who started painting on walls of Tehran, his was called "Alone," which later mutated into A1one. A1one started painting indoors in the late 1990s. He is one of the pioneers of the urban art scene in Middle East. When he began, it was a time when nobody knew what graffiti was in his country. He has been known as the "Iranian Banksy" because of his influential role in the rise of street art and stenciling within Iran.[3][4]

Already involved in urban arts in general, he met in 1998 the rapper Nima who told him everything about the hip hop underground culture which triggered A1one's desire to grow in that direction. His first significant work was a painting under the Tehran-Karaj expressway called Searching for friends.[5]

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. With his public space art, he describes his view on the Iranian society and puts himself regularly in danger.[5] In 2006, he met with Tehran city officials to obtain the authorization to paint on walls, but officials had no interest in his work, they solely asked for money and artistic religious illustrations.[2]

"When I decided to do my painting on walls I bought some spray cans - at that time we had just some very low quality colors in Iran. My first work was a very simple work titled “searching for friends” painted on a wall right next to the Tehran-Karaj expressway late at night. It was a really frightening night for me… The next morning I got three calls from friends who recognized my style of painting. They were shocked to see my work on a public wall. My first stencil was a Munch's Scream Print on Art University walls and after that , experimented with many techniques and methods, but I continue with stencils, graffiti and sticker art."[6]

In 2008, he was invited to show his work at the annual Melbourne Stencil Festival, taking 40 pieces of work with him to his first trip in a non-dictatorship country, thus experimenting exhibiting his artwork without the fear of reprisals for the first time.[3]


One of A1one's works displayed in Paris Tower 13

A1one's art world is dynamic and made of many different styles, from portraits to calligraphy and funky characters which he mostly uses for his stickers. A1one's art combines Persian calligraphy and Western graffiti. His art has been documented by many photographers and featured in Art Asia Pacific Magazine.

The artist has been working on Arabic Graffiti Style Design from 2003 and developed graffiti style in Islamic graffiti world. He has made a handful of the greatest Style walls with Arabic letter graffiti since 2004.[7]


He has been arrested several times and signed agreements with police not to work in streets. The management of the Iranian artists 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.[citation needed]

Selected exhibitions[edit]

Group shows (selected)[edit]

  • 2005 "Portrait and Expression", Behzad Art Gallery, Tehran, Iran
  • 2006 "Start Propaganda II", Los Angeles, USA
  • 2007 "Process Invisible", Street Level Gallery, Portland, USA
  • 2007 "Resist", La Condition Pablique, Roubaix,France
  • 2007 "Spray 2007 ", Mehrin Art Gallery, Tehran, IRAN
  • 2008 "Iranian Contemporary Artists Expo", Molavi Organization Hall, Tehran / IRAN
  • 2008 "Visual Slang", Henry Art Settlement,NY, USA
  • 2008 "400 ML", Paris, France
  • 2008 "Melbourne Stencil Festival 08", Yarra Sculpture Gallery,Melbourne, Australia
  • 2008 "Spray1387", Arete Gallery, Tehran, IRAN
  • 2008 12 Inch Art, Winnipeg Canada
  • 2008 Vinyl Killers, Portland,USA
  • 2009 Your Kid Can't Do this / Group show Touring Australia
  • 2009 Visual Slang III / NewYork
  • 2009 Urban Art Agenda / Melbourne / Brisbane, Australia
  • 2009 Brot And Kunst / Famous when Dead Gallery /Melbourne
  • 2009 Group Show / Seyhoun Art Gallery / Tehran
  • 2010 "Public Provocations", Carhartt Gallery - Weil am Rhein, Germany

Solo shows[edit]

  • 2005 "Alone / Pain Things ", Seyhoun Art Gallery, Tehran, IRAN
  • 2006 "October 1385 ", Mehrin Art Gallery, Tehran / IRAN
  • 2007 "I am Not Political"(private Solo show), Kolahstudio, Tehran / IRAN
  • 2008 "Spray it to the nation", Mehrin Art Gallery, Tehran, IRAN
  • 2010 Solo Show, Seyhoun Gallery, Tehran



  1. ^ "An introduction to graffiti and street art from Tehran through A1one a graffiti pioneer in his country". Retrieved 12 October 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Rebel Without a Crew: Street Artist A1one in Tehran, Artcat.com, 21 July 2008
  3. ^ a b Scott-Norman, Fiona (1 August 2008). "Graffiti cops a spray". Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  4. ^ Graffitti in Tehran: Instigating Political Change, Socialactive.wordpress.com, 16 February 2011
  5. ^ a b A1one: 1st generation Graffiti in Iran, Pingmap.jp, 19 January 2007
  6. ^ "A1one: 1st generation Graffiti in Iran". 19 January 2007. Archived from the original on 12 July 2008. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  7. ^ Vincent, Morgan (12 October 2009). "Le graffiti compte déjà de nombreuses formes. Il n'en est que plus intéressant quand il est développé dans des alphabets différents. Voici l'illustration avec l'alphabet Arabe". Retrieved 8 April 2015. 

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Related pages[edit]

External links[edit]