• International Modern & Contemp auction at Christies

    Sale 7893

    International Modern & Contemporary Art, Including Masterpieces from The Collection of Dr. Mohammed Said Farsi

    27 April 2010, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel

  • Lot 48

    Y. Z. Kami (Iranian, b. 1956)

    Rumi: The Book of Massnavi E Manavi III

    Price Realised  


    Y. Z. Kami (Iranian, b. 1956)
    Rumi: The Book of Massnavi E Manavi III
    printed paper mounted on linen
    90 x 99in. (228.6 x 251.5cm.)
    Executed in 2007

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    An aura of calm and peaceful meditation pervades the work of Y. Z. Kami, both in his oil studies of human faces and in his abstract collages which feature concentric rings around a central spot.
    There is an underlying strain of Sufi mysticsm in much of his work, expressing the core concept of Divine Unity through a subordination of multiple elements working in unison. In his abstracts the concentric rings are reminiscent of the pilgrim's circumambulation of the Holy Ka'aba in Mecca. The portraits, on the other hand, show a wide variety of people from New York, where he lives. These portraits are individual but often grouped. The sitters are often identically dressed, their uniformity giving them a sense of unity which might otherwise be lacking. There is a strong sense of objectivity in the Kami's dispassionate handling of portraiture. The lack of extraneous details and context allow the viewer to complete gaps in detail and meaning. Kami works on these two motifs simultaneously, the two very different in theme but expressing different facets of the whole.

    Y. Z. Kami's fascination with Islamic architecture, especially that of Iranian memorial sites, comes through in his black and white photographs of the early 1990s. In these his focus is the massive brick architecture of the Iranian world. Its distinctive combination of simple monumental shapes and complex repetitive surface patterning is powerfully evoked in these photographs. Moving closer to abstraction, his Untitled diptych of 1997 contrasts the interior surfaces of two domes, one filled with light the other cloaked in darkness. The carefully laid courses of bricks appear to spin like whirling dervishes of the Mavlavi Order of Jalaladdin Rumi. Recognizing this and the expressive and symbolic qualities of these brick patterns, Kami went on to make installations comprising rings of bricks printed with phrases from the poetry of Jalaladdin Rumi. For maquettes, Kami used rectangles of paper printed with the Farsi phrases pasted onto sheets. Working from these he developed a fully fledged language of abstract composition with brick-shaped paper printed with sacred texts, first in Farsi and in some works, in in Arabic or Hebrew, positioned as concentric rings, mimicking the patterns of the dome vaults. This is his Endless Prayers series of which Rumi-The Book of Massnavi e Manavai III is the largest and most impressive work.

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    Athens, The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Beyond Silence, 22 October 2009 - 10 January 2010
    London, Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, Y. Z. Kami, Endless Prayers, 21 November 2008 - 11 February 2009 (illustrated in colour, p. 145)
    Beverly Hills, Gagosian Gallery, Y. Z. Kami, 8 January - 9 February 2008.