Y.Z. Kami, Untitled (Hands) I, 2012, oil on linen, 30 × 16 inches (76.2 × 40.6 cm) © Y. Z. Kami. Photo by Rob McKeever.

"The Garden of Mystery" at Asia House, London, United Kingdom.

On view November 22 through December 1, 2017.

To celebrate the 700th anniversary, of the Garden of Mystery, (Gulshan-i Raz) by M. Shabistari, there will be an exhibition of contemporary artworks by Taha Afshar, Y.Z. Kami, and Monir Farmanfarmaian at Asia House. The works on display differ in styles and execution but share a connection and resonance with core themes within Sufi literature and practice.

The Garden of Mystery is now considered to be one of the greatest classical Persian works of the Islamic mystical tradition known in the west as Sufism. From the opening verse, the poet delves straight into recurring themes of the poetry: the heart, soul, contemplation, and illumination.

The spiritual themes presented in this poetry mirror ideas explored by not only Renaissance masters, but also the Romantics, several Modernists, and a selection of post-war and contemporary western and eastern artists.  For example, if you take a work like Concerning the Spiritual in Art by Kandinsky you can see how important redefining painting’s role in exploring man’s inner spiritual struggle was for his vision for Modern art. In this context, Shabistari’s work provides another lens and framework to capture man’s journey, relationship with his heart and the cosmos.

Y.Z. Kami (b. 1956) is an Iranian born American painter based in New York. Kami is known for referencing core concepts of different religious faiths and philosophies in his artworks. Though the subjects in his oeuvre span from painted portraits and devotional subject matter to abstract domes and architectural elements, the artist continually returns to themes of introspection, subjectivity and contemplation. There will be both figurative work and paintings from his Dome series. The connection is through the meditative experience and expression of light.


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