Nature Morte, Delhi: Iranian artist Kamrooz Aram’s first exhibition in India interrogates the overlapping trajectories of ornamental patterning

Kamrooz Aram, a Brooklyn-based artist trained at the prestigious University of Maryland, makes his debut in India, at Nature Morte, Delhi. He reveals a diverse practice that engages through a variety of media including seven paintings, collages and a single sculpture. To step into his world is to be drawn into a corollary of conversations. His show The New Arabesque explores the complexities of traditional non-Western art and Western Modernism. Aram says, “I tend to embrace some of the more taboo subjects in art. For instance, making something that’s emotional, or that has a spiritual presence—these are things that are difficult to talk about because they’re dismissed, by academia mostly, as things that lead to subjectivity and sentimentalism. But not all emotions lead to sentimentality, and not all definitions of spirituality have to do with subjectivity.”

Influences and Conversations

The seven paintings raise questions about the possibilities of contemporary abstract painting to engage both context and content beyond its own form as it straddles many epochs. In more ways than one Aram uses design as a medium for its power of perspective. In including floral motifs from Persian carpets he saw at New York store fronts, he creates a reconfiguration of painterly meditations, born out of repetitive stances that coax new conversations from fragments. He draws attention to the relationship between ornament and decoration. He also presents a satirical stance on modernism’s disdain for ornament even as we use so much of it in everyday living.

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Bashful Seyed, 2020 Oil, oil crayon, and pencil on linen 84 x 84 in 213.4 x 213.4 cm

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Midnight Arabesque, 2020 Oil, oil crayon, and pencil on linen in artist_s frame 79 1_4 x 57 in 201.3 x 144.8 cm

Cultural Nostalgia

The small collages in the show create a sense of cultural nostalgia. Aram uses photography, collage and installation, to showcase cultural distance that results in artworks becoming contextualized, and reproduced as artefacts in an exploration that brings together time past and time present. The success of the collages lie in his use of minimalism and also in the tidiness of execution which reflects his understanding of weaving abstraction through realist forms in antiquity. We also sense an underlying challenge of ‘the romanticism of authenticity, and how we attach significance to an object based on its history and lineage.’

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Nature Morte , 2020 Printed matter on paper in artist_s frame 38 7_8 x 25 7_8 in 98.6 x 65.7 cm

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New Arabesque for Unfashionable Optimism, 2020 Oil, oil crayon, and pencil on linen 66 x 56 in 167.6 x 142.2 cm

Arabesque Object

Placed on a square pedestal, is a small quaint sculpture made of ceramic, brass and linen on wood titled Arabesque Object. Born of the days of yore, rooted in history, its globular bottom tapers in ascension into a spire. This work evokes the presence of decorative arts in museums and stories like Arabian Nights and many other tales. It also presents the element of intrigue in Islamic architecture and design. As an art lover you walk away carrying an album of abstract memories that blurs boundaries, knowing that here is an artist who relies on floral pattern as a point of reference, who creates works that are immersive both compositionally and historically.

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Composition with Ancient Objects, 2020. Oil, colored pencil, and printed matter on linen.
20 x 16 in
50.8 x 40.6 cm

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Arabesque Object, 2020. Ceramic and brass object, linen on wood, painted wood, brass.
Ceramic object: 17 x 6 inches
Pedestal: 32 ½ x 32 ½ x 16”

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Kamrooz Aram. Untitled Green Detail

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Composition with Ancient Bronze Ornament, 2020
Oil, colored pencil, and bronze on linen
24 x 30 in
61 x 76.2 cm

The New Arabesque is on show at Nature Morte, The Dhan Mill, till February 14, 2021


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