Gagosian is pleased to announce Night and Day, an exhibition of new paintings by Y.Z. Kami. Opening January 17 at 555 West 24th Street, this will be the artist’s first solo exhibition in New York since 2014.
Night and Day juxtaposes two distinct bodies of work by Kami: the portrait paintings that have been at the center of his practice for more than three decades, and Night Paintings, a series that he began in 2017. In conjunction with Endless Prayers, Dome paintings, and other ongoing projects, the Iranian American artist’s oeuvre represents a deep consideration of representation and abstraction, humanism and spirituality.
Each of Kami’s large-scale painted portraits depicts a single face in muted colors on an opaque ground. Frontally composed and closely cropped, Kami’s self-absorbed subjects are removed from the specificity of context. From Aïsha (2021–22) and Lu (2022) to The Monk (2022) and Woman in Dark Sweater (2022), these paintings are titled by first names or descriptions, marking a continuum between individual identity and universality. Using layers of brushstrokes to blur his subjects’ features, Kami concentrates on the ineffability of individual presence. From longtime friends and acquaintances to strangers he has met in passing, his subjects form an ensemble of varied age, gender, and ethnicity. Kami’s introspective faces also recall the Fayum portraits of Roman-era Egypt—naturalistic likenesses of the deceased that were affixed to mummies. The works in Night and Day affirm—as do their ancient precedents—the common humanity in our observation of others.