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Kamrooz Aram Realms and Reveries


  • Archive, Archive Exhibitions, Exhibition

  • January 14, 2006 - July 30, 2006
  • Galleries

Iranian-born, New York-based artist Kamrooz Aram’s iridescent, exuberant paintings occupied MASS MoCA’s Prints and Drawings Gallery beginning on January 14, 2006. Drawing from an assortment of design motifs, including Persian carpet patterns and early Nintendo game graphics, Aram creates highly stylized landscapes that complicate the conventional definitions of binary terms such as East and West, through spectacular depictions of light, traditional icons, and digital culture. The exhibition, Realms & Reveries, included Aram’s recent paintings, delicately rendered drawings, and a MASS MoCA-commissioned wall drawing, located along the second-floor corridor.

In this age of unprecedented growth and technological change, we encounter a nonstop barrage of cultural signs. A given image may have multiple meanings depending upon the cultural lens through which the viewer interprets it. Aram recycles spiritual symbols and visual traditions common to both the East and West—from media advertisements, to Renaissance painting, to Persian miniatures—and infuses them with new meaning in order to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions. Set against a painted surface of psychedelic colors, Aram’s process of layering various incongruous images into a unified composition recalls the formal practices of 1960s Pop artists such as Andy Warhol, which in turn echoes early Cubist collage. Aram likens his process to the making of early video games such as Super Mario Bros®. He says, “In [this game], there are a host of characters and graphics that are juxtaposed in various ways to create a variety of scenes. In the paintings, forms and images are recycled.”

The transformative power of light has long fascinated Aram, dating back to his early childhood experiences in Iran and later in the United States. His treatment of light and its cultural connotations are a subject that has remained central to his work since his days as an MFA student at Columbia University and are evident in the five recent paintings exhibited at MASS MoCA.

Organized by Elizabeth Statton, an intern from the Williams College-Clark Art Institute Graduate Program in the History of Art, the exhibition is part of the continuing series of MASS MoCA exhibitions presented in collaboration with the Clark Art Institute in support of MASS MoCA and the Williams/Clark Graduate program in the History of Art. The Clark Art Institute has been placing interns from its graduate art program in the curatorial department at MASS MoCA since well before MASS MoCA opened. “Clark graduate students continue to organize some of our most thoughtful, quirky, and beautiful exhibitions — Liza’s is the first to focus on an individual artist and to include such a large commission. We continue to appreciate the generosity of the Clark Art Institute, and particularly Michael Conforti, for sustaining this work,” said Joseph Thompson, director of MASS MoCA.

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