Any opportunity to view the work of contemporary Brooklyn painter Kamrooz Aram is well worth the effort. As it so happens, one is currently on display at the Planthouse Gallery, near Madison Square Garden—and what a dandy it is!
Titled Enduring Continuing Eternal (see below), it is a part of the gallery’s new group show, “Only By Night,” the theme of which seems to be works suggestive of dreams. Aram, who was born in Iran during the late ’70s, is especially evocative when mixing the fantastical with the traditional. His visual work has been compared to that of magic-realist writer Salman Rushdie, which is an over-simplification, but not one without warrant.
Both artists are unafraid to tackle subjects of a religious or nationalist nature. Each use their expository abilities—Rushie with words; Aram via the flowery technique of a court painter—to move past the incendiary and political to get at the revelatory. Religion, like identity, is the search for order and meaning; at a safe distance, it is no more than pseudo-science, and Aram’s abstractions go directly for that more cosmic, wide-angle view of belief.
Paintings such as Gleam of the Morning’s First Beam are a model of efficiency and design. Shimmery golds, flashing yellows, and lime greens radiate outward from the center, while figural birds and arabesque plants dot the bottom-half and margins, giving firm balance to the composition’s overall feeling of ecstasy and vision. There’s no exaggeration here, yet nothing is particularly realist either. It’s as if the world of the mind—the world of ideas—is as real as our forebears imagined it in ancient times. That also means the actual one we live in is mere illusion—a slippery-slope in artistic terms (philosophical too), though one worth savoring in the hands of an artist like Aram. Dare to dream again. (Brian Chidester)