Riyas Komu, though trained as a painter, successfully explores a diverse group of media including sculpture, photography and video installation. Typically, these paintings are large scale portraits that posses an inherent political or social agenda. Komu's portraits are comprised of randomly chosen images from the media and are intended to convey the angst and frustration felt by the common man in regions experiencing strife and unrest. Although his paintings are disquieting and draw the viewer into a miasma of desolation, the final and underlying current is one which celebrates the resilience of the common man.
Exhibited in the Arsenale of the 52nd Venice Biennale, 2007, this painting is part of a larger series of six works featuring the actress from the Iranian film 'Circle' directed by Jafar Panahi gazing in different directions. The paintings, collectively titled 'Designated March by a Petro-Angel (Desert March)' address the plight of humanity in societies targeted by larger power-hungry nations or 'neo invaders.'
The main character symbolizes the Third World woman, helpless in the face of internal adversaries as well as the greater adversaries of her civilization. I chose her face because of the passions that lie hidden beneath the skin. An injury mark on her face gives a fish-eyed view of the desperate lives of women in a country hit-listed by the MNC's-driven Pentagons. The reasons don't end there. The face I have chosen is, of course, a mirror on the oppressors delight, physical as well as psychological.
Riyas Komu (Artist Statement, 'Think with the Senses, Feel with the Mind', Exhibition Catalogue, 52nd Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale, 2007)