Y.Z. Kami’s large-scale portraits recreate the visceral experience of a face-to-face encounter, suggesting a connection to the presence of each subject. Through a uniform haze or sfumato, he depicts family, friends, and anonymous strangers with eyes open or closed, gazing forward or looking down. Rendered in matte oil paint on linen, the portraits recall Byzantine frescoes or Fayum funerary portraits, continuing the art historical quest to locate the unknown and the infinite within material form. In his abstract work, Kami continues this interplay of surface and interior, using forms inspired by architecture, geometry, and poetry. In the Endless Prayers series, Persian, Hebrew, Arabic, and Sanskrit prayers and verses are cut into rectangular fragments and pasted into mandala formations, their spiraling patterns echoing the repetitive nature of prayer. These, in turn, led to the Dome paintings. In black, white, blue, or gold, the Domes are comprised of square or rectangular marks arranged in concentric circles to create tessellated, pulsing voids—universal evocations of the passage from darkness into light. Kami has also expanded his figurative painting to include depictions of hands. The hands, often shown with palms pressed together in prayer, underscore the physical nuance of this expressive part of the body, as well as the pervasive symbolism of its gestures.
Y.Z. Kami was born in Tehran, Iran in 1956. His work has been collected and exhibited by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; the British Museum, London; and Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art, London. Solo institutional exhibitions include “Portraits by Y.Z. Kami,” Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (2003); the 52nd Biennale di Venezia (2007); “Perspectives: Y.Z. Kami,” Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (2008); “Y.Z. Kami: Endless Prayers,” Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art, London (2008); “Y.Z. Kami: Beyond Silence,” National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (2009–10); and “Y.Z. Kami: Endless Prayers,” Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), CA (2016-17).
Kami currently lives and works in New York.
Extended through May 18, 2018
Geometry of Light
March 16–May 18, 2018
April 9–May 30, 2015
Britannia Street, London
January 16–February 22, 2014
980 Madison Avenue, New York
January 8–February 9, 2008
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2019
The Summer 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Afrylic by Ellen Gallagher on its cover.
An exhibition at Gagosian, Paris, is raising funds to aid in the reconstruction of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris following the devastating fire of April 2019. Gagosian directors Serena Cattaneo Adorno and Jean-Olivier Després spoke to Jennifer Knox White about the generous response of artists and others, and what the restoration of this iconic structure means across the world.
Y.Z. Kami: Luminosities
Elena Geuna interviews the artist on the subjects of his childhood, his approach to portraiture, and the centrality of light in his practice.
Y.Z. Kami: Behind the Vanishing Point
Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth-century mathematician and philosopher, served as a crucial inspiration for Y.Z. Kami’s newest body of work. Angela Brown examines Pascal’s ideas and their relevance to these portraits and Dome paintings.
Fire and Water
Y.Z. Kami and Peter Marino discuss the power of bronze, the current state of architecture, and the infinite.
During preparations for an exhibition in London, Y.Z. Kami met with Gagosian’s Alison McDonald to discuss the evolution of his work, technique, and his combination of influences.
Thursday, May 9, 2019, 12–3pm
Bar Foscarini, Venice
To celebrate the release of his new monograph and his participation in The Spark Is You: Parasol unit in Venice, Y.Z. Kami will sign copies of the book, titled Y.Z. Kami: Works 1985–2018. Copublished by Skira and Gagosian, this comprehensive monograph collects over three hundred of Kami’s works in color along with essays by curator, critic, and writer Robert Storr, Guardian art critic Laura Cumming, and curator of the Pinault Collection at Palazzo Grassi Elena Geuna. To attend the free event, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited.
Y.Z. Kami: Works 1985–2018 (Milan: Skira; New York: Gagosian, 2019)
West Bund Art & Design
November 8–11, 2018, booth A120
West Bund Art Center, Shanghai
Gagosian is pleased to participate in West Bund Art & Design for the first time, with a booth of modern and contemporary works by artists including Glenn Brown, Dan Colen, John Currin, Jean Dubuffet, Rachel Feinstein, Urs Fischer, Walton Ford, Ellen Gallagher, Douglas Gordon, Jennifer Guidi, Hao Liang, Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Alex Israel, Y.Z. Kami, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Nam June Paik, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Rudolf Stingel, and Jonas Wood.
Additionally, a large-scale painting by Takashi Murakami, Dragon in Clouds – Indigo Blue (2010), will be installed in a special presentation at the entrance to Hall N. To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at email@example.com. To preview our booth, go to artsy.net.
Thomas Houseago, Untitled (Colored Skull I), 2018 © Thomas Houseago
Online Viewing Room
Frieze London 2018
October 1–10, 2018
Coinciding with the gallery’s presentations at Frieze London and Frieze Masters, the Online Viewing Room will feature works that will be available exclusively online by artists including Helen Frankenthaler, Roy Lichtenstein, Sterling Ruby, and Jonas Wood.
The Frieze London Online Viewing Room will open at 12:00am on October 1 in Hong Kong, and close at 11:59pm on October 10 in Los Angeles and San Francisco (see below for dates and times in cities where Gagosian has gallery locations).
Online Viewing Room opens:
12:00am HKT on October 1 (Hong Kong)
7:00pm EEST on September 30 (Athens)
6:00pm CEST on September 30 (Geneva, Paris, Rome)
5:00pm BST on September 30 (London)
12:00pm EDT on September 30 (New York)
9:00am PDT on September 30 (Los Angeles, San Francisco)
Online Viewing Room closes:
2:59pm HKT on October 11 (Hong Kong)
9:59am EEST on October 11 (Athens)
8:59am CEST on October 11 (Geneva, Paris, Rome)
7:59am BST on October 11 (London)
2:59am EDT on October 11 (New York)
11:59pm PDT on October 10 (Los Angeles, San Francisco)
For more information about the Frieze London 2018 Online Viewing Room or the works that will be included, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sterling Ruby, WIDW. FLAME WAR., 2018 © Sterling Ruby. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer
Y.Z. Kami in
The Spark Is You: Parasol unit in Venice
Through November 23, 2019
Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello, Venice
In celebration of its fifteenth anniversary, London’s Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art presents an exhibition of works by nine contemporary Iranian artists in Venice. The Spark Is You has at its heart the need to develop mutual respect and understanding between different nations and cultures. The exhibiting artists, all of whom look beyond the ordinary, were selected for the affinity with openness, respect, and human interconnectedness presented in their practice. Work by Y.Z. Kami is included.
Y.Z. Kami, Chartres III, 2018 © Y.Z. Kami
Y.Z. Kami in
Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians
July 1–September 24, 2017
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Contemporary Iranian artists have used power, humor, mysticism, and poetry to both openly and subversively critique subjects such as gender, politics, war, religion, and spirituality. While some of the works in Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians reflect the sociopolitical tensions of the past twenty-five years, others transcend them to create all-embracing spaces free of strife. This show is traveling from the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. Work by Y.Z. Kami is included.
Y.Z. Kami, Black Dome, 2015 © Y.Z. Kami
Y.Z. Kami in
Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians
February 4–June 4, 2017
Aga Khan Museum, Toronto
Contemporary Iranian artists have used power, humor, mysticism, and poetry to both openly and subversively critique subjects such as gender, politics, war, religion, and spirituality. While some of the works in Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians reflect the sociopolitical tensions of the past twenty-five years, others transcend them to create all-embracing spaces free of strife. Work by Y.Z. Kami is included.
Photo: Janet Kimber