Debutantes: Hossein Ghaemi - Art Collector

Issue 63, January - March 2013

This profile appeared in the Debutantes feature, part of the annual special issue 50 Things Collectors Need to Know 2013.

Hossein Ghaemi, The Ooo in Who, 2011. Performance at a church on Chalmers Street in Surry Hills, Sydney, 2011. Photo: Sally Poon. Courtesy: the artist and The Commercial, Sydney

Born: 1985
First commercial gallery solo exhibition: continuing through January 2013, The Commercial, Sydney.

Iranian-born Hossein Ghaemi’s induction into art was, by any standards, traumatic. On a trip to Turkey with his family at the age of two, Ghaemi became separated from them and was found and taken in by a local family. They cared for him for two weeks before he was reunited with his parents. “The Turkish people would provide me with lots of pencils and paper and that’s my earliest memory of devoting a lot of time to drawing.”

Ghaemi eventually moved to Australia with his family and as a teenager began to develop alter egos and personalities, including a whirling dervish, that later found expression in his art.

Working in gouache and pencil and with more unconventional materials such as pistachio nuts and pomegranate juice to represent these alter egos and explore his roots, Ghaemi was selected for a group show at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in 2010. Curator of that show, Amanda Rowell, who has now picked him up for a solo exhibition at her new gallery The Commercial, describes the “secrecy and the unconscious, theatricality and mysticism that operate as veiling elements in his work”. Objects are half seen, meanings only half-revealed.

This deliberate obfuscation extends to the long, partially comprehensible titles attached to his work.
Two Shakes Sent for Lolly-Gag (It takes two to dive the twain for tit for tat- dart on proms the flit on flat while for four hoe-downs’ dawn the final exchange on the shimmer) from 2012 shows Ghaemi’s playful sense of humour.

Rowell describes Ghaemi as a mercurial talent, no more evident in some of the musical performances that he has composed and staged, for which he also designs the costumes and makeup. Rowell recalls their initial meeting during his third year at the Sydney College of Arts. “I immediately thought that here was someone who was very original, confident and distinctive. I was intrigued that his work looked like nothing that anyone else was doing. A natural artist.”

On completing his visual arts degree in 2010, Ghaemi was nominated for the Redlands Art Prize. During 2012 he collaborated on a week-long performance project for the Next Wave Festival in Melbourne and his performance
SKIN IN ON was included in NightTime: Twilight at the Performance Space in Sydney. He is also part of the Sydney-based collective Sydney Guild, which has a regular exhibition program in Darlinghurst.

Amanda Woodard

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