Ali Esmaeillou came to painting from Architecture. His work was futuristic and clean. A utopian sci-fi film would be a happy place for the buildings he conceived.
Deciding an office job was not his calling, Ali began to paint seriously and in 2009 held his first solo show. He is cheerful, speaks with enthusiasm, has a sunshine smile and a snake of braided hair.
In his work, Ali primarily involves himself with “the human condition”. With a skill that is second to none, he creates parallel worlds in which to freely explore the inner happenings of his subject matters.
In a series titled Bells of Shahnameh from 2011, the people he explored were mythical figures, belonging to the classical Persian tales of the Shahnameh. In this series, Ali set out to show what it was like for the characters to live those tales. The clichéd ideas of the strong complex characters are thrown to the wind.
In 2013, he began to explore the identity of warriors. These brave beings glorified and looked up to. Demi-gods incapable of weakness. He questions what goes on inside. How it actually feels like for them, trapped in a lonely often torturous existence of ever-increasing high expectations.
On the back of his journeys through fable and myth, he commenced an expedition into the minds of a broader, perhaps scarier audience: The simple ordinary man.
In this series, dark facets of the human being show their faces. Obsession, self-destruction, self-loathing, jealousy.
The characters are varied and appear to have nothing in common with one another. The world he chooses to create appears to be deep in an underwater cellar. As if to refer to all that lies deep within each and every man.
Often Ali’s work is described as dark, scary or unsettling. But Ali’s work can also be the carrier of a message of hope. It reminds us that as humans, warrior or ordinary, we all have a dark side. We all carry with us weaknesses and complexities and yet we manage, with the strength that only humans possess, to more or less keep the darkness at bay, under control and within the constraints it belongs.
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Ali Esmaeillou lives and works in Tehran. He is producing a new series of work to be exhibited between 5-15 March 2015 at the YPA pop-up show at Stattbad Wedding in Berlin under the theme Hope Dreams Desire.