Kamrooz Aram: Realms & Reveries

January 14-July 30, 2006
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA)
North Adams, MA

Drawing from an assortment of design motifs, including Persian carpet patterns and early Nintendo game graphics, Kamrooz Aram creates highly stylized landscapes that complicate the conventional definitions of binary terms such as East and West, through spectacular depictions of light, traditional icons, and digital culture. In this age of unprecedented growth and technological change, we encounter a nonstop barrage of cultural signs. A given image may have multiple meanings depending upon the cultural lens through which the viewer interprets it. Aram recycles spiritual symbols and visual traditions common to both the East and West, from media advertisements, to Renaissance painting, to Persian miniatures, and infuses them with new meaning in order to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions.

Set against a painted surface of psychedelic colors, Aram's process of layering various incongruous images into a unified composition recalls the formal practices of 1960s Pop artists like Andy Warhol, which in turn echoes early Cubist collage. Aram likens his process to the making of early video games such as Super Mario Bros. He says, "In [this game], there are a host of characters and graphics that are juxtaposed in various ways to create a variety of scenes. In the paintings, forms and images are recycled."

Realms & Reveries marked the artist’s first solo museum exhibition, which included Aram's paintings, a series of intricate pen-and-ink drawings, and a 100 foot-long wall drawing commissioned by MASS MoCA for the second floor corridor of the Hunter Theater Mezzanine.

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