The soul is not obscured by forms.
Even if it were wrapped in a hundred folds of felt
the rays of the soul’s light
would still shine through.
Gagosian is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Iranian born artist Y.Z. Kami. This will be his first exhibition in Los Angeles with Gagosian Gallery.
The flux between matter and spirit, life and mortality, the outer layer and the inner soul lies at the core of Kami’s oeuvre. Kami binds his study of Sufi poetry and philosophy to the traditions of figure painting, portraiture and collage. His works reflect a diverse range of interests, from portraiture to architectural domes, from photography to sacred and literary texts.
Kami’s silent, meditative paintings project a quiet monumentality that invokes various mystical traditions culled from both the East and the West, as well as the austere Persian mausoleums and somber ruins of the ancient world. In earlier small-scale paintings that recall Fayyum funerary portraits, anonymous sitters gazed directly at the viewer. Larger than life portraits of people, some friends, others complete strangers, have a haunting presence. In this exhibition, five large-scale paintings of introspective figures, are at once majestic and intimate, strikingly present yet withdrawn. These “quotidian mystics,” as Homi Bhabha has called them, are centered on their axis as in a state of meditation.
In a suite of twenty-four collages entitled Endless Prayers, Kami turns to abstract configurations whose building blocks are Persian, Arabic, and Hebrew texts cut to emulate bricks and mosaics of sacred architecture. Retaining the color of both earth and heaven, these pasted units whirl around a center like the eye of a dome, embrace a cross, or recall Buddhist mandalas. Arranged in a circle, the structure of these assemblages evoke the cyclical, ritual nature of prayer as a daily practice.
A fully illustrated catalogue will be available, with an essay by Steven Henry Madoff.
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.
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
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.