The Iranian-born British artist and photographer Reza Aramesh makes Catholic-style statues based on figures–often Muslim captives–that he finds in press photography from conflict zones.
He uses the photographs to produce highly detailed iconic figures of human suffering which will be shown for the first time in Europe in a former church in London, Oct. 13-16, 2011. The exhibition at One Marylebone will showcase a collection of seven sculptures and six photographs by Aramesh.
The figurines are made by a workshop in Italy that has been producing religious statuary for generations, and deliberately infuses the works with an air of old Catholic saints.
In their jeans or boxer shorts, these beautifully detailed figures look like modern-day Christs or St. Sebastians–which will add a provocative and political angle to the Frieze art week in London.
Using the news photographs as raw material, Aramesh recreates scenes using non-professional actors. The figures are then photographed from every angle. (For his restaging photographs he takes the scenarios out of context, often staging them in opulent surroundings.)
Aramesh was inspired to turn his ideas and photographs into sculptures when he saw the National Gallery’s exhibition of the great ecclesiastical art of the 17th-century last year, “The Sacred Made Real”, and he is also inspired by the great tradition of sacred art, from medieval sculpture to Bernini and Caravaggio.
He employs 17th-century artistic techniques such as the application of the varnish and paint on to the solid limewood sculptures. The figures are polychromed, their gestures are at times melodramatic though often also unnervingly tranquil. They stand on beautiful inlaid plinths incorporating Islamic geometric designs. The plinths epitomise the sophisticated elegance of wealth, while the figures express basic human suffering.
In this exhibition at One Marylebone, Aramesh will draw on the rich iconography of war. His sculptures are evocative, intense, and intimate confrontations with individuals who, cast in the role of victim, offer the world their emotions for scrutiny and compassion. Aramesh thus brings his subjects in from the harsh exterior landscapes of war to the historical interiors of this converted church.
Aramez’s show, 13-16 October 2011, will launch Mottahedan Projects, a contemporary art venture dedicated to developing, nurturing and creating platforms for the emerging artists of our time.
Now living and working in London, where he received a MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, Aramesh has exhibited his work in several solo and group exhibitions in the UK, China and Dubai. He has orchestrated a number of performances in London, including “I am a Believer”, commissioned by the ICA in Trafalgar Square and at Tate Britain.