In a few days will end at the Gagosian Gallery in Rome, an exhibition that deserves to be told for the special atmosphere it leaves. In these days of interruption and stasis, when it is clear that it will not be possible to go and visit it, I follow the advice of other museums and galleries and let you take a virtual tour of the exhibition.
The atmosphere that will hit you is rarefied and silent. If you have never gone to see the oval hall in Gagosian Rome, I recommend it. It is a place where there is no noise; in which art – even the most questionable – manages to find a dimension of sacredness and importance. It may not be appreciated, not understood, but for sure the feeling it leaves is to have been in a special place.
The artist I want to talk to you about is called Y.Z. Kami, Iranian born in 1956, who currently lives and works in New York. Born Kamran Youssefzadeh, her approach to art forms takes place alongside her mother, in a family studio, where she worked as a portrait painter. At first impact, I would say that this may have been the first strong imprinting: since for him art also meant family, home, safety. And for many artists it may even be enough.
Along time, the elements that make up his poetic work become numerous and increasingly complex. The mummies from El Fayyum, seen in the Louvre, wave togheter their frontality and their sense of solemn silence with the photos he takes of friends, relatives and even unknown models.
In his training, academic studies in Berkley (California) mix with the abstraction Persian poetry of Rumi; the knowledge of Andy Warhol’s commercial idolatry mixes with the millennial respect for the religion of his ancestors. (His Infinite Prayers series).
In his photographs and portraits there are an intention of recognition. It is like seeing a series of mugshots faded by time, making them opaque.
It could be possible to speak about a partial, induced, suggested, whispered recognition in these photos. An artist who challenges his visitor to understand who he is looking at, as for the portraits of El Fayyum.
I think it is more effective to start from a particular sentence, the phrase that was chosen to introduce the presentation sheet to the exhibition.C
“Abstraction has always been part of my job. “
Saying and choosing such a phrase means preparing viewers for a total aseptic immersion of the figurative data. “Get ready to witness endless images of understanding, let yourself be guided only by senses and inspiration“
You go inside the gallery and you find Nocturnal Blu Indigo
Night Paintings, created between 2017 and 2019, all on soft linen canvas. His first exhibition in Rome.
Canvas rather large, like looking at the display cases of an aquarium.
Night Paintings are literally photographs set in a dimension between liquid and dreamlike, between gaseous and indefinite. Do you know when you put one drop of milk into a cup of tea? That effect of floating and milky cloud is created, cloudy water where things cannot be distinguished. The characters inside Night Paintings are like the inhabitants of a backdrop that cannot be distinguished by the movement of the waves.
Although the long-term challenge between abstraction and figuration has been stressed in some descriptions, I find that there is no tension. The abstraction, even if present, does not prevail over figurativeness. Just looking at these works from the right distance and here the figures emerge with no difficulties.
Night Painting I (for William Blake) and Night Painting II (for William Blake), dated 2017-2018, are two descents in a maelström of indefinite, deep dynamic forms. Where losing the eyes without understanding where the vanishing point.
The works in this exhibition are absolutely glamorous and silent, they explode without disturbing, they appease and excite the imagination.
As in all the great treatises in which we speak of psychology and art, we speak of the strength of differentiation between the various works of art. In other words, a same work may arouse some satisfying and relaxing sensations; to others, strong and even restless emotions. In the case of Night Paintings, the immersion can be like a relaxing journey in the synesthesia between the tactile, visual and auditory sphere.
The nuanced, everytime in the history of art, offers an mysterious, distant, indefinite effect; and at the same time reassuring because of its soft touch.
The artist’s intention to recognize is undeniably present. Among his various works we also mention the Infinite Prayers, works slightly different from abstract portraiture; in that works they are made up of small cuttings from Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Aramaic prayer texts that create concentric structures. These create a similar effect ceilings and floors of sacred places such as mosques, basilicas and royal palaces.
Moreover to the innate strength of the message, to the spirituality, to conciliation and cultural wealth, the work’s strength also lies in the act of stopping carefully and looking at these small portions of literature. The act of looking, recognizing, discovering the details among the nuances, transforms this artist’s work into an infinite prayer; into an infinite dialogue with the viewer; into an infinite tribute for those who interpret it.
This blog particularly loves the force of contamination and synthesis between various forms; and into the gallery the exhibition was enriched by a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, placed on a wall before entering the oval. We report it so that these words are reinforcing the imagination of being there and seeing these windows open towards the blue, the indigo, the night.
“Night (to you whose countenance)”
O you whose countenance, dissolved
in deepness, hovers above my face.
You who are the heaviest counterweight
to my around contemplation.
Night, that trembles as reflected in my eyes,
but in itself strong
inexhaustible creation, dominant
enduring beyond the earth’s endurance;
Night, full of newly created stars that leave
trails of fire streaming from their seams
as they soar in inaudible adventure
through interstellar space:
how, overshadowed by your all-embracing vastness,
I appear minute!
Yet, being one with the ever more darkening earth,
I dare to be in you.
This post is also available in: Italian