For its second participation at Liste, Green Art Gallery presents a solo booth by the Iranian-American artist Kamrooz Aram.
Kamrooz Aram’s works from the series Ancient Through Modern explore the modes of representation utilized by mid-century books documenting ancient Iranian art. In the works on display at Liste, the artist combines pages from these books with painting on linen to create collages that simultaneously evoke the aesthetics of exhibition design, photo-documentation, and geometric abstraction. In each work, Aram treats the found image as a formal element in an abstract composition and responds to it in the same intuitive manner he would approach a painting, in search of a balanced composition and “resolved” image. This results in paintings in which photo-documentation of so-called decorative arts are subsumed into abstract compositions that confuse notions of ornament, design and fine art.
These works are installed on a black and white striped wall, referencing a house that was designed by the early Modernist architect Adolph Loos for Josephine Baker. Loos, whose infamous essay “Ornament and Crime” is laden with racist reflections on the role of ornament in non-Western art, took it upon himself to design a home for Josephine Baker (Baker was not interested and the home was never built). The exterior of the home was to be painted in black and white stripes, ironically a Modernist form of ornament, not to mention the resemblance to prison stripes, the cage in which to contain the exotic Baker. Painting the interior of the exhibition space with these black stripes inverts Loos’s design, exposing the ornamental potential for Modernism and serving as exhibition design for the works on display.