Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art / Arab & Iranian


Y. Z. Kami
B. 1966

signed twice on the reverse

mixed media on linen
177.8 by 195.6cm.; 70 by 77in.
Executed in 2008.
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Catalogue Note

Blue Dome II is one of the most striking of Kami's architectural series to come to auction, and is immediately reminiscent of the Persia's medieval monuments.

Y.Z. Kami is a deeply spiritual artist who draws on both eastern and western philosophical teachings. The strong influence of Sufism and Sufi poetry on Kami inspired him to attempt to illustrate the depths of the human soul, and his artistic exploration has yielded a collection of transcendental paintings, mixed-media collages and installations.

Kami was initially drawn towards portraiture, a genre that enabled him to study the human face and to celebrate it for its close connection to God. According to Sufi beliefs, the light of the divine can be seen in the face of man.  In his portraits the artist depicts men and women of all ages, creed and colour, and effortlessly captures their spirituality.

In the collages that followed, Kami turned to another visual medium through which to give a tangible shape to the holy. In a collection of twenty-four collages entitled Endless Prayers, Kami arranges lines from sacred and poetic texts to resemble architectural elements from ancient religious structures. Phrases act as building bricks or as mosaic tiles that as a whole suggest the shape of a dome. Abiding by a strict colour palette of white, beige, blue and brown the colour schemes of Endless Prayers are inspired by those of heaven and earth.

In Blue Dome II, Kami is inspired by both the interior and exterior architecture of these religious structures, echoing the vibrant blue of the mosques of seventeenth century Persia. Under the Safavid dynasty the haft rang or 'Seven Colours,' the accepted colour palette of the eastern Islamic architecture, came to be dominated by turquoise blue. The blue of the domes is purposefully intended to mirror the sky, indeed the classical Persian language refers to the heavens as the gombad-e minia "the enamelled azure dome".

In the oasis-town of Mazar-e Sharif in modern day Afghanistan the blind earthwork walls and sandy alleys of the colourless desert is a perfect foil for the electric blue mosaic that covers the mosque. Kami's collage conjures up these fiery blue tiles interlaced with sand-coloured mortar, gracefully summoning up the shrines and monuments of renaissance Persia.

Blue Dome II is particularly reminiscent of the dome of Shah Ne'Matollah's shrine. Shrouded in a fretwork of stars outlined in cobalt blue, the brickwork at the centre of each star forms a radiating spider's web, a tribute to the web spun across the mouth of the Prophet's cave. A web which served to both hide and reveal the cosmic essence of the Divine, and which Kami turns to great effect in his contemporary manifestation of this sacred concept.

In a departure from his usual repertoire, Kami includes in this work the faint outline of the Om symbol. With its foundation in the Hindu faith, Om is now a universal symbol of unity, mysticism and peace. In Blue Dome II the significance is clear, Kami's message is one of harmony. In marrying symbols from two radically opposing faiths, the one monotheistic the other polytheistic, he endorses tolerance and unanimity through the medium of each faith's mystic path.

Contemporary Art / Arab & Iranian