Y.Z. Kami, a remarkable Iranian artist who works with the prestigious Gagosian Gallery in New York, is currently having a major solo exhibition at the Ab/Anbar Gallery in Tehran.
Y.Z. Kami work with the Gagosian Gallery has produced museum-quality shows using its unprecedented global presence—16 exhibition spaces designed by world-renowned architects, including Caruso St John, Richard Meier, and Jean Nouvel. In addition to a vibrant contemporary program, the gallery often presents historical exhibitions focusing on artists like Andy Warhol and Picasso.
Y.Z. Kami was born in Iran 1956 as Kamran Yousefzadeh. He moved to New York in 1984 where he continues to live and work. Kami is a self-taught artist who is most known in Iran for his portraiture works. The often enormous, mysterious portraits of men and women gaze at the viewer while other times their eyes are shut making it seems like they are praying or in a deep meditation. His blurring or sfumato technique makes his work even more enigmatic and Delphic.
It is the first time ever that the Gagosian Gallery is collaborating with an Iranian gallery in Tehran.
Besides his portraiture, he has also produced an on-going series of abstract paintings. These works feature tile-like patterning in concentric circles that evoke the religious architecture of the dome. These series of works are spiritual and philosophical using repetitive patterns in spiral shapes taking the viewer into a mantra.
Salam Matinfar, the founder of the Ab/Anbar Gallery in Tehran had a conversation with me about his gallery and the Y.Z. Kami exhibition.
Please tell us about the Ab/Anbar Gallery which is quite new in the Iranian art scene.
Ab/Anbar Gallery was established in 2014 on Darvazeh Dolat, Tehran. There was a very old building that we renovated it into a gallery space.
Why do you exhibit Iranian artists abroad?
I was thinking that the Iranian art scene was becoming too local and nothing new was coming from the outside. Artists, buyers and curators were all from Iran and living in Iran which is not innovative.
I myself studied painting in Tehran but I immigrated to Canada and then to London. I started to see that Iranian artists abroad have a more comprehensive view of the global art scene than local Iranian artists.
In the Ab/Anbar Gallery, we are looking for established Iranian artists abroad, or inside that are established but need more serious attention and marketing internationally.
Sometimes we also show Iranian artists living in Iran or some non-Iranian artists like David Batchelor.
What is the main focus in your gallery agenda?
Contemporary art including painting, installation, film or any other medium.
How come you decided to show Y.Z. Kami?
He was on the list from the beginning of our gallery’s opening.
When we talked to him, he was also interested in exhibiting with us. And you should know that he is working with the Gagosian so, we needed their permission. It is the first time ever that the Gagosian Gallery is collaborating with an Iranian gallery in Tehran.
There was a group show curated by Azadeh Zaferani named, ‘Mass Individualism: A Form of Multitude’ in 2016, based on architectural art. We invited Kami to be a part of that group show.
We sent a proposal to him after this group show. Two years on, this solo show happened and we published a book of Y.Z.Kami’s works which is around 400 pages in total. This show is a retrospective exhibition of his works for the first time in Iran including portraits and his abstract works from 1988 to 2017.
The exhibition opened on the 16th of April and will be on view until the 15th of June.