Iranian painter Ali Esmaeillou reveals haunting parallel universes beneath the pleasant facades of everyday life. In each series of paintings, Esmaeillou explores the psyche of specific archetypes, such as fishermen, or digs into the personalities of the characters that compose a particular story, like the great 10th century Persian epic, the Shahnameh.
As a trained architect, Esmaeillou pays particular attention to construction and composition. In his most recent series of paintings, many of which were exhibited earlier this year as part of the HOPES DREAMS DESIRE exhibition at Stattbad in Berlin, Esmaeillou combines shadows with analog devices and electrical plugs, to devise metaphors for the crippling ways in which humans tie themselves to hopes, dream and desires. For example, in “9 months greatness,” a particularly striking life-sized portrait of a strong, crowned woman is set against a green background, the color of envy. A newborn baby rests inside a net that dangles from a copper plate and conforms to the shape of the shadow’s belly, suggesting the beautiful and powerful princess is jealous of those in a position of motherhood. Serving as a foil, “7 days simplicity” depicts another crowned woman. This time she is corpulent and set in a red environment. Her shadow is that of a slender woman. Both women however, wear monocles as indicators that their visions of themselves and of the future are stinted by corporeal cravings.