One of the UK's richest people, Mike Platt, a hedge-fund investor, is also a patron of many contemporary artists and has taken over a deconsecrated church in Marylebone as a base for his collection.
The work of sculptor Paul Fryer was supported by Platt and in 2008, Fryer put on a solo show of his amazing sculptural works. The show was called, Let There Be More Light, and featured a series of sculptures, all exploring the dual themes of agony and human folly. These themes were worked out by the artist through the appropriation of religious themes and symbolism. The striking image above is, Lucifer, and pictures the fallen angel, trapped in a web of telephone wires, fallen to earth and fallen to technology. The works were lit to amplify the play of light and shadows and each of the sculptures showed a character in some degree of self-generated agony-the 'terror and chaos of one's own making' as one reviewer noted.
The formerly religious space, with it's stained glass windows and curved walls and arches only seem to amplify both the dynamism in the sculptures and the troubling issues the artist is exploring. Of course, the use of religious imagery in the service of contemporary art is contested by many, and cries of blasphemy are usually hard from some quarters.
I am exploring the role of religion and religious imagery in the contemporary arts in a book I am co-writing which is called, The Aesthetics of A/Theism. I am looking at the notion of making revelation out of profanation, an idea drawn from the poetic works of French philosopher/poet, Michel Deguy. The profane is not always a resistance to the sacred and in these times it seems that the profane might be the place where the sacred is most apparent. It seems that art has taken up some of the slack in a post-religious world to address the dilemmas and dichotomies of human existence. As Mark C. Taylor notes, religion is the most interesting where it is the least obvious.
Fryer continues to create spectacular sculptures, most of which explore religion and science in a variety of ways designed to confront the viewer with the complexity and beauty of life.