76 Grand Street
Deitch Projects presented Dry Land, an installation combining new paintings and photographic works by Y. Z. Kami. Haunting portraits were juxtaposed with evocative photographs of facades and landscapes to create a powerful vision of the end of the century.
In the opening section of the exhibition, 170 pages of a handmade book were installed floor-to-ceiling like a film storyboard. Painted portraits were paired with iris print photographs of the facades of apartment houses, industrial structures, and desolate landscapes, taken in New York, Detroit, and the artist’s native Iran. The faces, mostly of older people, displayed the same sort of worn, weatherbeaten, yet resolute quality of the facades. The pages of the book followed a process of desolation, destruction, and transformation to finally achieve a sense of arriving home. The people portrayed affirmed the continuity of life through civilization’s cycles of decay and rejuvenation.
In the main gallery, the artist installed two mural-sized paintings, featuring sparse grids of portraits. The head-on portraits alternated with blank rectangles painted in the color of desert sand. The sitters were a cross section of the people one might encounter in the daily routine of urban life. They represented the constant juxtaposition of diverse lives without real human interchange. The grids of faces paralleled the stark facades and empty windows in the photographic works. Many of the sitters were older and displayed the effects of fatigue and degradation. Some of the people had damaged eyes, a reflection of the visual pollution that they had witnessed. The sitters ultimately displayed a feeling of endurance, however, not a feeling of defeat. As in all of Kami’s work, one got a sense of the continuity of life over the expanse of time. The sitters wore modern dress but seemed to embody the spirit of the ancient world.
Y. Z. Kami focused on the human face, “the most interesting of all subject matter,” for more than fifteen years. His continuous effort to push both his technical skills and his insight into the human character resulted in a group of portraits of extraordinary power. The portraits succeeded both as abstract explorations of painting and as deep penetrations into the human soul.
Kami was born in Iran in 1956. He learned to paint by assisting his mother, who was also an accomplished portrait painter. He studied film at the Conservatoire de Cinéma and philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris, then moved to New York in 1984 to pursue his career as an artist. His work was featured in the exhibition, Architecture as Metaphor, at The Museum of Modern Art in 1997. This was his second exhibition at Deitch Projects.
March 8 - 11, 2018
We will present a special solo project by the artist JR.
Image: JR, Migrants, Walking New York City, 2015
April - May 2018
18 Wooster Street
76 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013
Monday – Friday
10 AM – 6 PM
Tuesday – Saturday
Noon – 6 PM
The gallery reopens with People in April 2018.
+1 (212) 343-7300
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