January 7 – February 20, 2010
James Harris Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Amir Zaki. The artist has been working as a photographer for more than fifteen years, showing work from New York to Los Angeles to Seattle. This is his fourth solo exhibit at James Harris Gallery. For this exhibition, Zaki shows a series of color-saturated lifeguard towers that have been digitally manipulated to render them more iconic than real.
Three years ago the artist moved from Los Angeles to Orange County, California, prompting a noted shift in his work. Earlier projects captured the pools and mansions common to the Southern California landscape, documenting both the luxury and the cliché embedded in that region’s distinct architecture. Zaki brought a cool eye to these subjects, spying curvy swimming pools from above, and depicting retro-chic living rooms empty of inhabitants. Domestic scenes were rendered as near abstractions, both highlighting their subject’s power over our imagination, and seemingly trying to capture common scenes with an objective approach.
Zaki’s new work explores structures common to his new locale: lifeguard towers and the Volkswagen Vanagon. The beach-side architectural structures seem to float in the sky, as all access to the towers has been digitally erased. Colors in both the skies and the small buildings themselves have been intensified, adding to sense of the fantastic. Several structures read like military outlooks, all streamlined angularity, while others would not seem out of place at nearby Disneyland. The image of the Vanagon presents this beach mobile as both an emblem of 1960s hippiedom, as well as a smooth-edged visual sculpture. On a biographical note, the two vans represent the vehicle Zaki owned as a younger man, and the replacement he sought out more than a decade later. The two mirrored images look at each other nose to nose, perhaps a portrait of youth staring age in the eye.
Museum collections include the Whitney Museum of American Art (NYC), Henry Art Gallery (Seattle), New Museum of Contemporary Art (NYC), and the Madison Museum in Wisconsin. Zaki’s work is part of Los Angeles’ Creative Artists Agency, the Dacra Collection in Miami Beach, and corporate collections at Microsoft, the Progressive Corporation (Mayfield Village, Ohio), and Altoids Curiously Strong Collection (NYC).