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Kamrooz Aram, Maspeth Rituals (Palimpsest #14), 2013

Oil, oil pastel and wax pencil on canvas, 213 x 183 cm

In his most recent exhibition, Palimpsest: Unstable Paintings for Anxious Interiors, New York-based Iranian painter Kamrooz Aram has performed an investigation on the nature of painting that oscillates between the canvas, the room and the container of space in general. However, investigation is not the right word: The investigation is both the precondition and the final result. In that sense, Aram is a “chercheur”, in the French meaning of the word, both a researcher and a searcher. The meaning of historical painting is being here re-defined as a laboratory rather than as a stage for a theatrical performance. Grounded on a grid-like structure across the canvas, based on a Persian carpet photographed once at a store in New York City.

Yet, the mathematical process reveals in its precision the difficulties and inconsistencies: The world is practically irrational but mathematically conceivable. “I then destroy it with solvent, wipe it away with rags and rebuild it again. Sometimes what I am covering up has already been erased. And sometimes the cover up itself is erased to reveal what was hidden beneath.” The ornamental motif might well be a metaphor for the inaccessibility of the sign and the rupture of the symbolic order, which is necessary for representation: A painting surface based on a snapshot can be but blurry and out of focus. The contemporary image is always out of focus; elements appear at different scales of distance. Focus is the realistic illusion, the artist in seeking lust or illusion.

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