Menu

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

In paintings, drawings, collages, and sculptures, Y.Z. Kami explores the flux between matter and spirit, external appearance and inner life. In large-scale portraits based on his own photographs, he restages face-to-face encounters, using sfumato to depict family, friends, and strangers with eyes open or closed, gazing straight ahead or looking down. Rendered in matte oil paint on linen, these meditative images recall Byzantine frescoes and Fayum funerary portraits, locating the unknown and the infinite in material form and presence. In his abstract works, Kami extends this interplay of surface and interior through forms inspired by architecture, geometry, poetry, and, more recently, hazy, oneiric imagery.

Kami was born in Tehran in 1956. He painted from early childhood, sometimes with his mother (who worked for a time under the well-known Persian academic painter Ali Mohammad Heydarian [1896–1990]), and was exposed to both Western and Near Eastern influences, particularly the paintings of the European masters and the verses of thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Persian poets. Following high school, and after a year spent in Berkeley, California, he moved to Paris. There he studied philosophy at the Sorbonne—from which he graduated in 1981—and subsequently at the Conservatoire Libre du Cinéma Français.

In 1984, Kami moved to New York, where he continues to live and work. There, he started work on Self-Portrait as a Child (1990), which marks the beginning of a series of paintings, drawings, and photographic works based on a picture of himself as a boy in Iran. Over the subsequent decade he produced multipart works, including Untitled (18 Portraits) (1994–95). A 2006 exhibition, Without Boundary at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, saw Kami starting to paint his subjects with their eyes closed or lowered, making the entire surface of the face a focal point. Other works, such as Dry Land (1999–2004), juxtapose painted portraits with photographic images of façades and buildings, the structures’ weathered surfaces underscoring a sense of lived history.

Read more

Setsuko and Y.Z. Kami

In Conversation
Setsuko and Y.Z. Kami

The artists address their shared ardor for poetry, the surfaces of painting, and nature.

Y.Z. Kami and Steven Henry Madoff sit in front two of the artist's paintings

In Conversation
Y.Z. Kami and Steven Henry Madoff

Y.Z. Kami and curator Steven Henry Madoff sit down in Kami’s studio to discuss the artist’s exhibition at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain. Entitled Y.Z. Kami: De forma silenciosa/In a Silent Way, the survey features portraits; images of buildings, both sacred and ordinary; a sculptural installation of loose bricks inscribed with texts; and recent dreamlike abstractions.

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

Photo: Sueraya Shaheen

Honor

Y.Z. Kami
2022 Asia Arts Game Changer Awards

Y.Z. Kami has been selected to receive a 2022 Asia Arts Game Changer Award. The award, presented by Asia Society at a gala on May 19, 2022, honors important figures across the arts who have made a significant impact on society and brings together artists, arts professionals, collectors, and Asia Society trustees and patrons to celebrate excellence in the arts from across Asia and the diaspora. Asia Society is the leading educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context.

Photo: Sueraya Shaheen

Hao Liang, Spring and Fall, 2020 © Hao Liang

Art Fair

West Bund Art & Design 2020

November 12–15, 2020, booth A102
West Bund Art Center, Shanghai
westbundshanghai.com

Gagosian is pleased to participate in West Bund Art & Design 2020 with an extensive group presentation. Along with the gallery’s booth at ART021 Shanghai, on view between November 14 and 15, this will be Gagosian’s first in-person art fair since the covid-19 lockdown in March. The gallery’s participation was made possible by extraordinary support from the artists involved.

Hao Liang, Spring and Fall, 2020 © Hao Liang

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

See all News for Y.Z. Kami

Museum Exhibitions

Y.Z. Kami, Messenger, 2021 © Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

On View

Y.Z. Kami
De forma silenciosa/In a Silent Way

Through January 22, 2023
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain
musac.es

De forma silenciosa/In a Silent Way is a mid-career survey of more than thirty years of work by Y.Z. Kami. The exhibition features portraits by the artist; images of buildings, both sacred and ordinary; a sculptural installation of loose bricks inscribed with texts; and recent dreamlike abstractions. Steeped in the traditions of the antique art of Egyptian Fayum portraits and ancient Persian poetry, while influenced by the writings of French moral philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, Kami’s works look at bodies in ethereal calm, with a meditative and philosophical assessment of outward and inner being.

Y.Z. Kami, Messenger, 2021 © Y.Z. Kami. Photo: Rob McKeever

Y.Z. Kami, Black Dome, 2015 © Y.Z. Kami

Closed

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

September 10, 2021–May 8, 2022
Asia Society, New York
asiasociety.org

Drawn from the Mohammed Afkhami Collection, Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians presents works by more than twenty artists from Iran and its diaspora. Revising traditional aesthetics and probing subjects such as gender identity, war, peace, religion, and spirituality, the works, which date from 1998 to the present, are realized in a variety of mediums, from painting and sculpture to photography and video installation. Through open critique or subterfuge, humor, spirituality, and poetry, the artists overcome the restrictions and pressures that have affected Iranians in the past quarter century. This exhibition originated at 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, Chartres III, 2018 © Y.Z. Kami

Closed

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

Closed

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

See all Museum Exhibitions for Y.Z. Kami