Artist: Kamrooz Aram
Exhibition title: Ancient Blue Ornament
Curated by: Daniel Fuller
Venue: Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, US
Date: January 11 – April 1, 2018
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Atlanta Contemporary
Kamrooz Aram utilizes painting, sculpture, and photography to examine the intersections between ornamental art, which has often been deemed “minor” throughout Western art history, and Modernism with its great phobia of the ornamental. His painterly works transcend the specter of the decorative, blending patterns derived from Persian carpets with geometric patterns common in vernacular modern European architecture.
Aram challenges the viewer to consider the exhibition space as an architectural whole. Using exhibition design as a unifying form, he dismantles the hierarchy between the objects on display, the mechanisms of display such as pedestals, and the architecture of the museum itself. An antique carpet might be displayed along with genuine antiquities, replica ceramics found in a museum gift shop, or objects the artist has designed or made himself, in order to question the way that we assign value to such objects. Aram challenges what he refers to as the false neutrality of the museum. Whether we are engaging art in an encyclopedic museum with linen-lined vitrines, or a white-cube contemporary art space such as this one, we are never viewing art objects in a neutral space. Every aspect, including architectural details, informs the way that we perceive the objects on display.
Aram even introduces his own architectural forms, the Ancient Blue Ornament from which this exhibition takes its title, which can be characterized as simultaneously architectural, sculptural, even functional. These objects replicate an ornamental architectural detail from Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of the Persian Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550-330 BC). These disorienting objects reference both the ancient and modern, and the relationship between the two. Constructed from Formica, a material commonly used for kitchen counters and office desks, they suggest a functionality one associates with furniture. Is the Ancient Blue Ornament a sculpture? An architectural detail? A prop to compliment the paintings? Or simply a piece of furniture? The artist presents an interdependence of forms, an exhibition environment where no element exists without the support of the others.
This exhibition is made possible by Leontine Ebers and Real Floors, Inc.