Green Art Gallery will be presenting a curatorially focused solo booth of new works including large-scale paintings and collages, created especially for Art HK over the past year. This will mark Kamrooz Aram’s debut in the region.
In the works created for Art Futures, Kamrooz Aram investigates the complex relationship between Western Modernism and traditional art forms sometimes associated with the ‘East’. For Aram, the potential for painting to function critically lies partially in its use as a tool for a certain renegotiation of history. This extends to the history of art as well as the Orientalist history in which the West has depicted Eastern cultures in whatever way best suits Western hegemony.
Geometry initially entered Aram’s paintings by way of his collage series, ‘7000 Years’. To create these collages, Aram uses pages from mid- century catalogues of Iranian art, and in particular, one catalogue from the exhibition ‘7000 Years of Iranian Art’ which toured the United states in the mid 1960’s as a sign of cultural diplomacy from the Iranian government. The title ‘7000 Years’ evokes a common Iranian claim for the importance of the nation’s history. For Aram, this cultural nostalgia for a glorious past is not unlike the current nostalgia for Modernism in contemporary art. By using simple compositions that resemble Modernist geometric abstractions in his work, he directly engages the complicated relationship between traditional non- Western art and Modernism.
In ‘Backdrop for Nostalgic Interiors’ (from the series 7000 Years), 2012, these collages are installed on linen stretched over a panel and painted with a minimal geometric composition. The linen at once evokes the walls of encyclopedic museums which might house the objects depicted in the collages, while at the same time referencing the most desirable painting surface for traditional Western painting. By hanging the collages on a geometric abstraction, the artist exemplifies his statement that “a Frank Stella is just as susceptible to becoming decorative as a Persian carpet, and a Persian carpet has the same potential for meaning as a Frank Stella.”
Aram’s interest in Stella’s ‘Black Paintings’ is also present in his most recent canvases. Gold, the universal symbol of value, steeps into the paintings’ backgrounds, rubbed out and rendered almost indistinct through a process of wiping away and covering up. As it struggles with its own status as a
precious and decorative commodity, Aram’s painting also acknowledges an awareness on the part of the artist that critical discourse can only truly arise after the acceptance of the very things it criticizes. Thus, the artist believes, only when a painting acknowledges its role partially as an object in an interior space can the painting realize its potential for meaning. Hence the artist’s titles such as ‘Ornament for Anxious Interiors’, 2012, in which the painting admits its role as a backdrop, and by doing so resists this very fact.
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. 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). His work has been featured and reviewed in the New York Times, Art in America, Artforum.com and Bidoun among others. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Green Art Gallery is a contemporary art gallery in Dubai, UAE. Central to the curatorial program are contemporary artists from the Middle East, North Africa, South East Asia and Turkey, working across different media, traditional and new, who employ a research-based practice.