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Y.Z. Kami

Y. Z. Kami, Masque mortuaire de Pascal (Pascal’s death masque), 2017 Oil on linen, 75 × 51 inches (190.5 × 129.5 cm)© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y. Z. Kami, Masque mortuaire de Pascal (Pascal’s death masque), 2017

Oil on linen, 75 × 51 inches (190.5 × 129.5 cm)
© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y. Z. Kami, Daya in Profile, 2014 Oil on linen, 118 × 80 inches (299.7 × 203.2 cm)© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y. Z. Kami, Daya in Profile, 2014

Oil on linen, 118 × 80 inches (299.7 × 203.2 cm)
© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y. Z. Kami, Paul, 2014 Oil on linen, 90 × 54 inches (228.6 × 137.2 cm)© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y. Z. Kami, Paul, 2014

Oil on linen, 90 × 54 inches (228.6 × 137.2 cm)
© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y. Z. Kami, Black Dome II, 2014 Acrylic on linen, 72 × 79 inches (182.9 × 200.7 cm)© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y. Z. Kami, Black Dome II, 2014

Acrylic on linen, 72 × 79 inches (182.9 × 200.7 cm)
© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y. Z. Kami, Man with Violet Eyes, 2013–14 Oil on linen, 108 × 72 inches (274.3 × 182.9 cm)© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y. Z. Kami, Man with Violet Eyes, 2013–14

Oil on linen, 108 × 72 inches (274.3 × 182.9 cm)
© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y. Z. Kami, Marwin, 2013–14 Oil on linen, 108 × 72 inches (274.3 × 182.9 cm)© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y. Z. Kami, Marwin, 2013–14

Oil on linen, 108 × 72 inches (274.3 × 182.9 cm)
© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y. Z. Kami, White Dome I, 2011–13 Acrylic on linen, 124 × 137 inches (315 × 348 cm)© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y. Z. Kami, White Dome I, 2011–13

Acrylic on linen, 124 × 137 inches (315 × 348 cm)
© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y. Z. Kami, Untitled, 2009–12 Oil on linen, 112 × 75 inches (284.5 × 190.5 cm)© Y.Z. Kami

Y. Z. Kami, Untitled, 2009–12

Oil on linen, 112 × 75 inches (284.5 × 190.5 cm)
© Y.Z. Kami

Y. Z. Kami, White Dome IV, 2010 Acrylic on linen, 70 × 77 inches (177.8 × 195.6 cm)© Y.Z. Kami

Y. Z. Kami, White Dome IV, 2010

Acrylic on linen, 70 × 77 inches (177.8 × 195.6 cm)
© Y.Z. Kami

Y. Z. Kami, Untitled, 2010 Oil on linen, 99 × 68 inches (251.5 × 172.7 cm)© Y.Z. Kami

Y. Z. Kami, Untitled, 2010

Oil on linen, 99 × 68 inches (251.5 × 172.7 cm)
© Y.Z. Kami

Y. Z. Kami, Untitled (Hands) I, 2013 Oil on linen, 108 × 72 inches (274.3 × 182.9 cm)© Y.Z. Kami

Y. Z. Kami, Untitled (Hands) I, 2013

Oil on linen, 108 × 72 inches (274.3 × 182.9 cm)
© Y.Z. Kami

Y. Z. Kami, Untitled (Woman in a Green Sweater), 2006 Oil on linen, 132 × 74 inches (335.3 × 188 cm)© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y. Z. Kami, Untitled (Woman in a Green Sweater), 2006

Oil on linen, 132 × 74 inches (335.3 × 188 cm)
© Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

About

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, and lives and works in New York. 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, DC; 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, DC (2008); Endless Prayers, Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art, London (2008); Beyond Silence, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (2009–10); and Endless Prayers, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2016–17). In 2007, he participated in the 52nd Biennale di Venezia.

A painting in dark blue and white. The image depicts a group of men in white linen encircling a platform on which a couple of them are standing. The standing figures are cut off from the waist up as the top half of the painting dissolves into solid midnight blue.

Y.Z. Kami: Dematerialized

In celebration of the release of the monograph Y.Z. Kami: Works 1985–2018, and in advance of an exhibition of new works by the artist at Gagosian, Rome, Ziba Ardalan and Elena Geuna sat down to discuss Y.Z. Kami’s work. The conversation was moderated by Gagosian’s Kay Pallister.

Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (Notre-Dame), 2019.

For Notre-Dame

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, Gold Dome, 2017, gold leaf on linen, 63 × 70 inches (160 × 177.8 cm). Mr. and Mrs. David Su Collection.

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.

Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2019

Now available
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.

Y.Z. Kami: Behind the Vanishing Point

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

Fire and Water

Y.Z. Kami and Peter Marino discuss the power of bronze, the current state of architecture, and the infinite.

Y.Z. Kami

In Conversation
Y.Z. Kami

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.

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Y.Z. Kami, White Dome VI, 2012–13 © Y.Z. Kami

Book Signing

Y.Z. Kami
Works 1985–2018

Tuesday, February 25, 2020, 6–8pm
Gagosian, Paris

Y.Z. Kami will sign copies of his new monograph, Y.Z. Kami: Works 1985–2018. Copublished by Skira and Gagosian, this comprehensive monograph presents more than three hundred of Kami’s artworks in color, from his early figure studies and photographic works to his portraits, Dome paintings, sculpture, and works on paper. The publication features essays by curator and critic Robert Storr, Guardian art critic Laura Cumming, and curator Elena Geuna. To attend the free event RSVP, to kamirsvp@gagosian.com. Space is limited.

Y.Z. Kami, White Dome VI, 2012–13 © Y.Z. Kami

Y.Z. Kami signing a copy of his monograph at the Gagosian Shop, New York, 2019

Book Signing

Y.Z. Kami
Works 1985–2018

Thursday, November 7, 2019, 6:30pm
Libreria Bocca, Milan
www.libreriabocca.com

Y.Z. Kami will sign copies of his new monograph, Y.Z. Kami: Works 1985–2018, at an event hosted by Skira. Copublished by Skira and Gagosian, this comprehensive monograph collects over three hundred of Kami’s works in color along with essays by curator and critic Robert Storr, Guardian art critic Laura Cumming, and curator Elena Geuna. The event is free and open to the public.

Y.Z. Kami signing a copy of his monograph at the Gagosian Shop, New York, 2019

Y.Z. Kami signing a copy of his monograph at the Gagosian Shop, New York, 2019

Talk and Book Signing

Y.Z. Kami
Works 1985–2018

Tuesday, November 5, 2019, 6:30pm
Gagosian, Britannia Street, London

Ziba Ardalan, founder and artistic and executive director of Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, and Elena Geuna, independent curator, author, and art advisor, will discuss the work of Y.Z. Kami to celebrate the recent release of his monograph, Y.Z. Kami: Works 1985–2018, published by Skira and Gagosian. After the talk the artist will sign copies of the book. To attend the free event, RSVP to kamirsvp@gagosian.com.

Y.Z. Kami signing a copy of his monograph at the Gagosian Shop, New York, 2019

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Museum Exhibitions

Y.Z. Kami, Chartres III, 2018 © Y.Z. Kami

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Y.Z. Kami in
The Spark Is You: Parasol unit in Venice

May 9–November 23, 2019
Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello, Venice
parasol-unit.org

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, Black Dome, 2015 © Y.Z. Kami

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Y.Z. Kami in
Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians

July 1–September 24, 2017
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
www.mfah.org

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

Photo: Janet Kimber

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Y.Z. Kami in
Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians

February 4–June 4, 2017
Aga Khan Museum, Toronto
www.agakhanmuseum.org

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