new-york

Y. Z. Kami

Deitch Projects

Y. Z. Kami’s installation of sixteen portraits occupied the gallery space with a stately presence. Each painting is three to four feet high by two to three feet wide and depicts the head of its subject. The sitters range in age from their late teens to their seventies; about half are women, half men, and all are shown against a light earth-tone background. Although executed on linen, the paintings’ nubbly, claylike texture suggests fresco. Other writers have noted their relation to Alexandrian portraits, but whereas those works usually indicate facial and bodily features with simple, clear strokes, Kami’s portraits are thickly built up, almost layered. Many also have a hazy quality that requires us to look more deeply into them to gain focus, until finally the subject seems to occupy a space just to the fore of the painting’s surface. A few of the portraits, such as that of a young man in

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