One Marylebone, London
13-16 October, 2011, 13-16 October, 2011

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, mostly the Middle East. 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. 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 of suffering look like modern-day Christs or St Sebastians. The show gives a provocative political angle to the Frieze art week in London.

The exhibition at One Marylebone will showcase a collection of seven sculptures and six photographs by Aramesh in his first solo show in London.  He then uses the news photographs as raw material to restage scenes using non-professional actors. The figures are then photographed from every angle. For his restaging photographs Aramesh 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.

Reza Aramesh

Reza Aramesh, an Iranian born British artist now living and working in London. Born in Iran, he left Iran for London when he was 16, where he studied. In 1997 he completed a first class MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and has since lived and worked in London. He 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.

*Mottahedan Projects

Mohammad Mottahedan is an established collector, patron and adviser in contemporary Western Art, as well as a prominent figure in the contemporary Iranian art scene.  

Mottahedan Projects is dedicated to developing, nurturing and creating platforms for “emerging” artists. Founded by Mohammad Mottahedan in 2011, this unique art venture will draw upon Mottahedan’s unparalleled understanding of the contemporary art market in order for artists to realise their own ambitions, and support their creative goals. His market experience is fused with visual intelligence stemming from a life immersed in looking at and for art, seeking guidance from art historians, critics and curators, as well as visiting galleries and museums going back to the mid-80s in New York. He has established a track record of discovering and collecting the finest and most revered contemporary artists, often being one of the very first owners, over the past 25 years. He has a unique understanding of the underlying mechanisms and rules of the contemporary art world and its governing market.

Mottahedan has been the initial supporter and collector of two of the 21st century’s art superstars, Jeff Koons and Raqib Shaw. His first major project in the UK will be this one-off solo show by Reza Aramesh. Mottahedan has rented the former Church of the Holy Trinity, 1 Marylebone Road during Frieze week and will use his unique insight and connections to promote the works of Aramesh.

Mottahedan Projects launches with this exhibition.

One Marylebone 
1 Marylebone Road
London NW1 4AQ
Tel: 0207 323 6963

Image Credits:  Reza Aramesh, Action 123: Korean prisoner of war awaiting execution, 1950.
2011, Polychromed limewood, glass and wood veneer, fumed eucalyptus, maple, indian ebony, walnut
Sculpture 63 cm (height)
Overall 156 cm (height)
Photo by Mohammad H Sahabi, Courtesy of the artist

Graphic Design by Ishmael Annobil /  Web Development by Ruzanna Hovasapyan