Skip to main content

< back



b. 1952 in Shiraz, Iran, lives and works between Germany and New York Karimi is a self made artist who has been successful both in his own country and in the West. His works have been exhibited in numerous countries including Iran, Turkey, Germany, US, and Switzerland. Shahram Karimi’s paintings portray the dilemma of the contemporary bicultural Iranian who seeks historical and personal identity by wedding their personal past with contemporary form. Each one of Karimi’s paintings relates to a fragment of his memory and national history. People, flowers, the ambience of an Iranian village stranded on his canvas bespeak of the past simplicity of Iran and yet in the remote corners of the same piece we often come across the depiction of a real historical event blended into the weaves of the artist’s canvas. Thus does the painter strive to unfold the dust of oblivion from his own memory and unveil the identity of the contemporary Iranian lost in a world of a much loved simple past and a fast tracking contemporary present that bears no relationship with the world of his childhood. This is where Karimi realizes the need for elements from his Iranian background and this is where he turns to Iranian poetry to thread it through his works and thereby to leave its mark. The writings in his works are hard to read and are in fact only threads that rise out of the painting to join its various corners together and to leave the reader with the unforgettable remembrance of where it all stemmed from: the Persian poem that Iranians take such pride in and which to them is the single indivisible cultural element they all embrace. And yet the painter goes even further: the separate frames of memory he leaves in various corners of his work rise from his personal conscious and unconscious. Karimi’s misty background greys and blues force the viewer to witness how what we see as memory still lives on in us to control influence and shape our present.


Shirin Neshat on the works of Shahram Karimi

‘In an era when Globalism has become an integral aspect of the post modern man’s experience, the Iranian born artist, Shahram Karimi, living in Germany, truly represents such trans-cultural currents and realties in the context of contemporary art. His aspirations are at once rooted in his personal cultural history such as the traditional Persian Miniature paintings, his subsequent life in exile and exposure to the history of abstract, minimal and conceptual art of the West. Karimi has arrived at a unique form which combines both aspects of seemingly diverse cultures in an artistic language which transcends the boundaries of such localities. Karimi’s paintings follow the same principals as those of classical Persian Miniature paintings, mainly in respect to the absence of perspective. The use of narrative elements and inscription of text over imagery and his minimal abstractions of visual iconography bind him to Western art. Poetry plays a major role in Karimi’s creative vocabulary. He expands on the rich tradition of poetry, which has been recognized as the most vital aspect of Iranian culture. As a poet, in an unprecedented way, he incorporates verbal and visual metaphors in parallel forms to provoke and express distinct memories. In his exploration into the realm of media, Karimi makes a video, which in my view becomes an extension of his paintings and poetry. In this video, shot in Egypt, the artist offers a new experience for the viewer. One senses an obscure travel through Karimi’s paintings. The strength lies in the ultra simplicity, raw and casual use of camera to capture the aura of the spaces that he encounters. There is an immediate emotional response to these spaces that suggests the notion of ‘absence’ of human body and the presence of a ‘place’, which remains.

Karimi’s most recent adventure into installation art is yet another poetic gesture with deeply humanistic and political edge, treated with the same level of abstraction and modesty. Here portraits of ‘shoes’ become reminiscent of the ‘absence’ of the physical body. This work suggests a new direction for a ‘ global’ artist who is seeking a delicate balance between Persian aesthetics and Western expression to arrive at an art, which becomes truly universal.



Selected Solo and Collaborative Exhibitions

2016 The Cold Earth Sleeps Below (in Collaboration with Shoja Azari), Leila Heller

Gallery, New York, NY

2015 Remembrance, Gallery Syra, Washington D.C.

2014 Longing for Myself, Gallery Brigitte Schenk, Cologne, Germany 2013 The Rose Garden

of Remembrance, Mah Gallery, Tehran

2013 Magic of Light (in Collaboration with Shoja Azari), MANA Contemporary, Jersey City, NJ

2010 The Rose Garden of Remembrance, LTMH Gallery, New York, NY In Between, Museum

Siegburg, Germany

2008 Shahram Karimi Solo, Gallery Brigitte

2006 Schenk, Cologne, Germany

2006 Silence, Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, NY

2005 Gallery II Gabbiano, Roma, Italy

2004 Art Basel, Marco Noire Contemporary Art, San Sebastiano Po/Torino, Italy 2004 Kölner

Stadt Anzeiger, Cologne, Germany

2001 Studio Shirin Neshat, New York, NY

1998 Gallery of Modern Art (Chaneh Honarmandan), Tehran, Iran

1987 Pumpwerk, Siegburg, Germany

1986 Museum Siegburg, Germany

1981 Gallery Taehr, Shiraz, Iran

Selected Group Exhibitions

2018 The World is My Home, ADVOCARTSY, Los Angeles, California

2018 Art Cologne, Brigitte Schenk Gallery, Cologne, Germany

2016 Art Cologne, Brigitte Schenk Gallery, Cologne, Germany

2015 Abu Dhabi Art, Brigitte Schenk Gallery, Cologne, Germany

2014 Look at Me, curated by Beth Rudin DeWoody & Paul Morris, Leila Heller Gallery, NY, NY

2012 Magic of Persia, Dubai

2012 The Elephant in the Dark, Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi, India

2011 The Mask and the Mirror, curated by Shirin Neshat, Leila Heller Gallery, NY

2011 Art Dubai, Brigitte Schenk Gallery, Cologne, Germany

2011 Art Cologne, Brigitte Schenk Gallery, Cologne, Germany

2010 Tehran-‐New York, LTMH Gallery, New York, NY

2010 Art Dubai

2010 Art Cologne, Germany

2010 Art Abu Dhabi, LTMH Gallery, New York, NY

2009 Selseleh/Zelzeleh, curated by Dr. Layla S. Diba, LTMH Gallery, New York, NY

2009 Iran Inside Out, Chelsea Art Museum, New York, NY

2009 Art Dubai

2008 Art Paris/ Dubai

2008 Art Cologne, Germany

2008 Art Miami

2008 Art Bologna, Italy

2008 LTMH gallery, New York, NY Museum Last Palma (CAAM), Spain Art Bologna,

2006 Art20 -‐ The International Art Fair, New York, NY

2003 Poetic Justice, the 8th International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey

2003 Gallery of Contemporary Arts, Pancevo, Yugoslavia

2003 25 Years of Separation, Iranian Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA

2000 Kunstverein Aschaffenburg, Germany

2000 Grosse Kunstausstellung NRW, Düsseldorf, Germany

1994 Kunstforum Bonn, Germany

1979 Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran, Iran

1976 Gallery Takhte Jamshid, Tehran, Iran

Film Productions

Karimi has collaborated with the visual artist/filmmaker, Shirin Neshat as the key production

designer for the following films:

2007 Women Without Men

2005 Feature length film, Women Without Men, shot in Morocco

2004 Logic of the Birds, multi-‐media performance, USA and European tour

2003 The Last Word, shot in New York

2002 Tooba, shot in Mexico

2001 Passage, shot in Morocco

2001 Possessed, shot in Morocco

2001 Pulse, shot in Morocco

2001 Film K, shot in the US

2000 Fervor, shot in Morocco

1999 Soliloquy, shot in Turkey

Karimi has also been the production designer for filmmaker Shoja Azari in several of his

productions, including his feature length film K (2002) and Windows (2006)


1997 First Prize, “Kunst Prise”, Rhein-Sieg, e.V.

Product Enquiry