x

Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 July 2018

Frank Stella and Reza Aramesh’s contrasting art styles are in perfect harmony at the Leila Heller Gallery in Dubai

Pairing the postmodern American artist and the Iranian contemporary artist is a bold choice, but one that works wonders.
Reza Aramesh creates sculptures concerned with the suffering resulting from armed conflict. Courtesy of the artist and Leila Heller Gallery, Dubai
Reza Aramesh creates sculptures concerned with the suffering resulting from armed conflict. Courtesy of the artist and Leila Heller Gallery, Dubai

Frank Stella and Reza Aramesh are artists of such disparate backgrounds and styles that it might seem an odd choice to pair their works under one roof. However, this bold choice works really well, as a visit to Leila Heller Gallery on Alserkal Avenue in Dubai proves.

Stella is one of the most famous postmodern American artists of his generation. He emerged in the 1960s and had his first retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1970.

Stella is known for his minimalist style, and once famously said: “What you see is what you see.”

The monumental wall pieces, which are better described as sculptures, are from the 1980s and have never been shown in public before. Stella was interested in the idea of taking a geometric object and pulling it apart.

Pieces of honeycombed aluminium protrude, as do other metal prongs and found objects and materials, lending multiple dimensions to the pieces and casting fabulous shadows on the walls.

The other half of the gallery has sculptures by London-based Iranian contemporary artist Aramesh, whose work is concerned with the suffering that results from armed conflict.

The title of this, Aramesh’s second solo show with the gallery, is At 9:15am Sunday 28 May 1967. In specifying the time and date of an event, but leaving out the location, he highlights the commonality of human suffering. A large marble sculpture depicts a barefooted man without a shirt and with a bag over his head – a picture of oppression and violence, but also a kind of monument for the unidentified martyrs of war.

Aramesh’s other series of much smaller bronze figures are hybrid creatures with human bodies and the heads of animals, which also explore the notion of power.

While Stella’s work is attractive and an alluring study of form and colour, Aramesh’s work is an uncomfortable look at the pervasive nature of aggression and violence in contemporary culture.

• Both exhibitions run until January 4 at Leila Heller Gallery, Dubai

aseaman@thenational.ae