Green Art Gallery will be presenting an artist-focus stand of new works by New York-based artist Kamrooz Aram including paintings, drawings and collages created over the past year. This will be Aram’s debut in the region.
Throughout his career, Aram has investigated the power of symbols and icons such as hawks, angels, mystical light and flags in an effort to explore the romanticization of cultural, spiritual and nationalistic ideologies and beliefs. By recycling these symbols and bringing them into a new context, Aram questions convenient definitions and categorizations, namely the tendency for viewers to decode such signifiers and more problematically in his view, the tendency to locate binaries and create mythologies.
While his previous compositions were populated with such imagery, in recent years Aram has been gradually shifting towards the construction of images through abstraction. In his 2010 exhibition, Generation After Generation, Revolution After Revelation at LAXART in Los Angeles, Aram presented a suite of 10 largely abstract paintings. This installation evoked a ceremonial space instilled with emblematic patterns that at once reference cultural and nationalistic iconography, whilst also questioning artistic ideologies.
In his recent Flag Paintings, which will be on display at Art Dubai, these explosive abstractions have been integrated into flag-like compositions whose patterns are derived from traditional Persian sources such as carpets, objects which have typically served a decorative purpose. Whilst the concept of the flag was present thematically in Aram’s previous work, here the canvas itself has become the flag. With pattern and geometry both struggling to dominate the final image, Aram investigates the complex history of Western Modernism’s relationship to traditional Eastern art.
Also to be shown at Art Dubai is a selection of Aram’s new series of paintings entitled Fana’, a term commonly associated with Sufism for the highest level of spirituality. Here, Aram’s central form, typical in many of his works, has been wiped away and sanded down to create the illusion of a mystical burst of light. The image created is similar to the representation of the divine experience portrayed in many religions, where a state of transcendence or contact with divinity is often represented through the use of light. The portrayal of a central icon is further illustrated in “International Monument II” (2010), a 2 x 2 meter painting with the hawk as the central form. A recurring motif in Aram's work, the hawk is depicted here as an idealized symbol of power.
Also on view will be a selection of Aram’s recent drawings from the series Revolutionary Dreams, in which he explores the romanticization of revolutionary ideologies. Taking its title from a song by Reggae musician Pablo Moses, in which the singer recollects a dream of a romanticized revolutionary battle, Aram depicts revolutionary characters who often come short of achieving their revolutionary dreams. In another series of drawings, Mystical Visions and Cosmic Vibrations, Aram explores the interpretation and mis-interpretation of Islamic ideology in the West through figures that simultaneously provoke two distinct reactions. Religious extremists or mystics of the highest spiritual order?
Green Art Gallery will also be showing a selection from Aram’s new series of
collages, 7,000 Years. These collages are constructed from pages from mid-century catalogues of Iranian art, particularly one catalogue from an exhibition covering 7,000 years of Iranian art objects that toured US museums in the mid-1960’s. Here, Aram explores what he terms cultural nostalgia. Using the phrase “7,000 years of history,” many Iranians evoke what they see as their magnificent cultural past. Is this history to be viewed in reverence and as a verification of a nation’s glory to this present day? Or is it to be viewed with a romantic nostalgia in a dismal present?
Aram will also be included in Studio Dispatches, part of Art Dubai Projects, a not-for-profit curated programme that includes new commissions, film, talks and performances. Realized in collaboration with The Island, Studio Dispatches is a series of audio/radio talks showcased in both exhibition and radio formats, which involves inviting artists to create a 5-minute ‘dispatch’ from their studio or space of work. The dispatches will be available within specially designed listening-posts located around Art Dubai.
Born in Shiraz, Iran in 1978, Kamrooz Aram received his MFA from Columbia University in 2003 and his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore in 2001. Recent solo shows include Negotiations at Perry Rubenstein Gallery, NY, Generation After Generation, Revolution after Revelation at LAXART, Los Angeles, CA and Kamrooz Aram: Realms and Reveries at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, Massachusetts. He has shown in several important groups shows including roundabout (2010), the Busan Biennale (2006), P.S.1/MoMA’s Greater New
York 2005, and the Prague Biennale I (2003). He lives in Brooklyn, NY.