Review: Aaron Worley, Your Arm on My Shoulder

Aaron Worley painting inside David Onri Anderson’s artist-run gallery, Electric Shed.

Your Arm on My Shoulder Exhibition Review 

by Rachel Ebio 


With a poet’s mind comes a meticulous yet empathic view of the world through cosmic oil on canvas paintings and character personification drawings. Your Arm on My Shoulder is Aaron Worley’s first solo show at The Red Arrow Gallery. 


Under a Virgo sun sits, Georganna III a potion of exploration. This painting follows wild syncopated rhythms of jazz both melancholy and joyous. Pick a single color and follow its journey. The strategic and fast force of each color whipped and smoothed across the canvas contrasted with Aaron’s delicate quill penned signature. 


First black, then yellow, now gray, followed by red. Peeks of the canvas’ base white color appear at the painting’s edges as if he could have or maybe did continue the piece beyond its perimeter limits. At 72-by-68 inches, Georganna III hangs as a complex snapshot of a consumed and sensitive mind.


Georganna II



Night terrors I and II sit as a diptych facing off against each other on opposite walls. Both with a similar color palette, an inky black color encompasses each piece showcasing the recherché waters a “bad” dream can live in. 


“Everything is subjective about a painting – except the size – that’s objective,” says Aaron. 

From To Beizar at 69-by-51 inches to Night terrors II at 88-by-96 inches, every canvas feels custom, precious and decisively idiosyncratic. 


Just the physical size of the paintings and the woven use of color from one end to the other looks exhausting. “It’s more mentally exhausting than physically exhausting,” Aaron states. He maps on the floor which color will go where and creates a new palette for each painting. This makes his approach to a canvas familiar yet foreign each time – a dichotomy of origin. 


Aaron’s intuitive lens of his environment is apparent in his paintings, but even more visible in his drawings. His art book, To Find A Place, chronicles the evolution of his work leading to this very solo presentation. The black and white book is sweepingly cinematic. Aaron showcases a piece of his world from paint mixing, canvas priming, along with drawings and paintings in their early – then – completed stages. 

Located on the gallery’s wood table on the second floor is a book of Aaron’s drawings. Most is black enamel paint on paper with a couple charcoal on paper exceptions. A perfect flow of lines and dots forming the body of a stoic, solitary boxer is the result of strategically dripped paint. Running a finger over the impressions of the boxer’s lines makes it an euphoric, geographical journey. 


These drawings are a forum for Aaron to explore his fascinations. Captured with a raw and immediate likeness are depictions of characters he has envisioned. A singular man in motion or contemplation. The ethos of these drawings evoke a sentiment made by Iranian American painter and cartoonist Ardeshir Mohassess. 


Mohassess was a quiet, artistic man captivated by the ugliness found within society’s oppressors that was inflicted on the oppressed. He was highly critical of the Iranian government. While his work captured society and its inherent ugliness, I argue Mohassess was an idealistic artist, waiting for society’s evolution into beauty and acceptance. 


Worley captures a different and referential interpretation. A man moving through the world gripped by bijou fascinations and colossal questions yet no forum for them to exist. What happens when you see the fragility of life no one else sees? The absurdity of mundane masculinity? Or the cartoon-like movements of a character living within your head? 


Just imagine chasing after the perfect mountainous sunset until nightfall, so its image is burned within you. You now carry a specialized fantastical memory. A memory that a poem of love, or tragedy, could be in reference to. An image, as steady as a single wick flame, that you and you alone possess. A mirage that grows more unrealistic by the hour. If we don’t record the essence of our surroundings for the future, then who will? 


Your Arm on My Shoulder exhibition at The Red Arrow Gallery.



Your Arm on My Shoulder by artist Aaron Worley was on view at The Red Arrow Gallery September, 2022.


Aaron’s art book, To Find This Place, is available for purchase at The Red Arrow Gallery for $35. Cash, check and Venmo payments are accepted.