Green Art Gallery presents Kamrooz Aram’s second solo exhibition at the gallery, debuting new paintings and sculptural works.
Aram’s paintings explore the potential for ornament and pattern to transcend the decorative. In these works, a pattern that has been built by repeating an isolated detail from a Persian carpet competes for dominance with a geometric pattern that one might associate with common European Modernist architecture. These paintings are made with a typically Modernist approach to painting: the artist works the entire canvas at once, building up and scraping down layers of paint, in search of a fleeting resolution. The paintings begin with a pencil grid, mapping out the floral forms, which are drawn in with oil crayons and then wiped away and redrawn, leaving evidence of the previous layers. The pencil grid emerges faintly to the surface, a nod to Agnes Martin, an artist that Aram has long admired. Like Martin, Aram is interested in an emotional or spiritual affect in his paintings, something that has frequently been deemed taboo in art criticism. Through the use of ornament and pattern, his paintings achieve a depth and presence beyond the so-called decorative, renegotiating a history of Modern art that has banished ornament as meaningless excess, a waste of labor, an architectural crime.
In addition to the paintings, Aram debuts a series of new sculptures exploring the significance of exhibition design in shaping our understanding of the antiquities we view in museums. For Aram, the manner in which these objects are displayed is as significant to creating meaning for the viewer as the objects themselves. Using architectural materials such as brass, hardwood planks and terrazzo, the artist creates works that focus as much on the formal qualities of design and display as they do on the objects displayed. These sculptural installations utilize paintings as backdrops, further examining the notion of the decorative in painting. The paintings have a dual role as both significant artworks in their own right and as passive backdrops to the displayed objects. The paintings, pedestals and objects in these works can only be viewed in relation to one another and never autonomously, depending on each other for context. Furthermore, the artist does not provide didactic text or wall labels identifying the displayed objects, challenging the viewer to disconnect them from a typical analysis of cultural significance, authenticity, authorship and provenance.