What defines the tribes to which we belong? Aaron Rose’s TOTEMS aims to put a face to the confused and conflicted existence of mankind in the modern world, taking the icons’ traditional format apart and reassembling it with bold graphics and symbols culled from popular culture as he delves into issues of religion and spirituality, and both sexual and material desires. The American artist presents his paintings and kinetic sculptures at Circle Culture Gallery, Berlin, this month.
Rose considers religious tribalism with a series of large canvas works that feature the faces of false idols or fictitious gods. With these imposters the artist looks on spirituality as a desire for emotional connection with each other and as a symbolic source of comfort as we struggle through life. Using kinetic sculpture, Rose approaches the topic of sexual desire for similar motivations. A reinterpretation of the classic barbers pole lures the attention with light, colour and movement, but again deeper symbolism is at play; these traditional signs were, before being adopted by barbers, used to advertise the services of prostitutes. Faceless works, instead focusing on graphic shapes and symbols, relate to alcohol and drugs and intoxication, and their ultimately futile use as a facilitator of solace and peace.
Search through TOTEMS‘ symbolism until 31 October.