Kamrooz Aram’s show Elusive Ornament, at Peter Blum Gallery in Soho, was one stop on my long list of shows I was interested in seeing. I’m so glad I stopped by.
A “quiet exhibition, beautifully composed and rigorous, in which Aram continues his interrogation of the assumed distinctions between painting and its oriental “other,” revealing that instability is in fact at the core of these enduring categories. The paintings included in Elusive Ornament come from Aram’s “Arabesque” series, the title of which the artist both problematizes and reappropriates. Writing about the term, he has suggested that, as an Iranian often misidentified as Arab in America, he himself is “Arabesque” while simultaneously recognizing that “there is no such thing as the Arabesque.” In one corner of the gallery, two recent oil paintings—”Scrutinuity” (2022) and “Wall Garden” (2022)—exemplify his use of the gridded canvas, one of the hallmarks of modernist painting’s autonomy. And yet while operating within this paradigm, Aram pushes against its integrity. Through a vibrant but controlled palette, the structure of his grids holds tensions that somehow work in harmony: bold curves and organizing lines coexist alongside hasty brushstrokes, paint unevenly applied, at times dark and thick, elsewhere sheer, almost to the point of being erased.” (Brooklyn Rail)
“Kamrooz Aram (b. 1978, Shiraz, Iran) is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. His work has been the subject of recent solo and two person exhibitions including: “Privacy, an Exhibition,” The Arts Club of Chicago, IL; “Lives of Forms: Kamrooz Aram and Iman Issa,” Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design & Architecture, Hasselt, Belgium (2021); “An Object, A Gesture, A Décor,” FLAG Art Foundation, New York, NY (2018); “FOCUS: Kamrooz Aram,” Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX (2018); “Ancient Blue Ornament,” The Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA (2018); “Ornament for Indifferent Architecture,” Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium (2017). Aram’s work has been the subject of articles and reviews in publications including Artforum, ArtReview, ARTnews, Art in America, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, among others.” (Peter Blum Gallery)