||Shahram Karimi is the consummate artist, master of many mediums: painting, drawing, collage, set design, video and poetry. This Iranian born vagabond carries battered suitcases committed into the very language of his painting. Yet, in depositing his emotional baggage in the center of this stunning exhibition, the artist transforms his outsider identity into the ultimate insider. The reason for this is simple; the exhibit unveils a deeply personal universal polemic, in images and his native Farsi tongue, for reconciliation and transformation at a time - the Arab Spring - when the world desperately needs it.His Iranian ancestry looms large in these remnants of fabric drenched in wells of personal memory. Weaving his desire through the roses connecting the very soul of his people into a personal rite of transformation integrating past, present and future -- Karimi resolves his lifelong issue: the search for a place to call home. Home is in the garden city of Shiraz where the artist was born with a talent to express the deepest well of emotion. And home too is in the heart of Eros connecting the artist's emotional memories to his ancient past. Yet, the home depicted in these exquisite series of paintings is also the communal space between spirit/matter and heaven/earth where a new archetype is born. In its intentional calling up of the Myth of Eternal Return for our time, The Rose Garden of Remembranceresurrects the original Garden of Eden where the Sacred Marriage Rites were performed as an annual fertility rite of rebirth and renewal. This holistic tradition entered Persian culture through the Zoroastrian divinity Mithra and Anahita. We see this universal feminine face of divinity re-emerging through Karimi's unveiled women, integrating East and West. As the final work completed prior to this exhibition, Women and Allah encapsulates the narrative of Karimi's marriage of traditional Persian painting and contemporary whilefusing the personal and universal mythological hero's journey narrative. Not surprising, this boy has the face of the artist. This iconic image heals the wounds of the patriarchal religions, restoring the role of the feminine as birth mother and the divine son as the inner light of humanity re-enchanting us, once again, with painting. This is the lasting legacy ofShahram Karimi: The Rose Garden of Remembrance, reclaiming the past so that we may presently absorb a future that honors both the masculine and feminine face of divinity.
Lisa Paul Streitfeld.