At One Marylebone: Reza Aramesh

reza aramesh "them who dwell on the earth" 2011
Reza Aramesh at One Marylebone
It is rare that an exhibition will have no false notes, that the totality of works across different media, the subjects covered and the location will combine without there being a single thing that jars. Them Who Dwell On Earth, the inaugral exhibition by Mottahedan Projects of work by Reza Aramesh now showing at One Marylebone, is possibly one such occurrence.

One Marylebone is a deconsecrated church designed by Sir John Soane. In its own right it is a beautiful and intriguing venue. Into this space, Aramesh has brought seven sculptures and six photographs. The sculptures follow the stylisms of Catholic icons but are presented here with human suffering and pleading rather than divine forbearance. These are then given further context by the photographs: monumental black and white images in which the subjects gaze out in variations of judgement or misunderstanding. The whole feeling is one of profound ambiguity.

The exhibition takes as its starting point words from the Gospel of St John and aims to reveal the impact of systemised ideology upon people, especially those who do not follow that ideology. As such, it could properly be termed a sort of humanist expressionism – referencing Islamic and Christian art traditions but ultimately showing the weakness of the faith that inspired those traditions if that faith is used only to control and deny freedom.

There was a steady stream of people when I went in – it is near the Frieze Art Fair centre – but it is only here for a few days before disappearing. Given that the commercialism of Frieze can sometimes leave you wondering whether anyone actually simply likes art without a price tag it was reassuring to come across work that is not only intellectually strong and well-realised but that is also drawing an audience.

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