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The Brooklyn Rail

Kamrooz Aram, Scrutinuity, 2022

Oil, oil crayon and pencil on linen, 48 x 46 inches

Through painting, and more recently, sculpture and collage, Kamrooz Aram’s practice explores the classification and hierarchies of art history. Grounded in eurocentrism and informed by colonial conquest, understandings of Islamic art—itself a European discipline—have been formulated through contradistinction. Relegated to the category of “decorative arts,” Islamic artistic practices, a term perhaps too expansive to hold much meaning, have been historically dismissed as lacking the fundamental characteristics of the “fine arts”; their focus on abstraction rather than figuration, favoring ornamentation over representation and failing to privilege the individual artist have justified their labeling as crafts, utilitarian rather than conceptual in nature. Elusive Ornament is a quiet exhibition, beautifully composed and rigorous, in which Aram continues his interrogation of the assumed distinctions between painting and its oriental “other,” revealing that instability is in fact at the core of these enduring categories.

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