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The Brooklyn Rail

Kamrooz Aram's Garden Revelation (2022)

on one of the covers of The Brooklyn Rail's November issue


During our conversation at the Peter Blum Gallery, Iranian-American artist Kamrooz Aram joked, “When you're identified as an Arab long enough, maybe you become kind of arabesque.” It’s a pun that embraces the many double entendres in the artist’s practice. Aram plays with and debunks notions and structures that we think we know—we being victims of received wisdom. The artist revisits many recognizable forms—the problematic arabesque being a focus of his efforts, but others tropes and gestures as well, pulled from antiquity (Islamic and otherwise), carpets and textiles, and the works of modernist architects such as LeCorbusier. Aram imbues these forms with alternative readings; or sometimes just plays with the idea of removing what we thought we knew and instead leaving an enigmatic lacunae. His project at the Arts Club of Chicago exposed the vestigial gendering of spaces in modernist architecture, and his current exhibition at Peter Blum, Elusive Ornament insists that we do the work to move beyond dismissing beauty that we can’t contextualize as merely decorative or ornamental.

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