Empty Vessel Exhibition Highlights Beauty and Spirituality in the Ordinary

November 13, 2019 - Liz Goldner

Take a cursory look at the large artworks hung on the walls in “Empty Vessel – Amir Zaki” at Orange Coast College. The pictures might be architectural drawings from a science fiction novel.

The images display broad expanses of concrete, which has been seemingly sculpted into circular, clean cut and even jagged forms, with several shapes echoing the hills and mountains beyond. The viewer might wonder if these 22 compelling pictures, some including tropical foliage and sharp shadows, are drawings or paintings inspired by the artist’s fertile imagination.

Read More.

Amir Zaki: The Urban Environment of Californian Skateparks

October 15, 2019 - Francesca Grillo

Concrete Vessel is a series of photographs representing the skateparks of California. Capturing empty environments, the artist focused on curved shapes and caves.

Read the full article on Domus.

Exalting The Banal To The Monumental Through California Skate Parks

October 13, 2019 - Emma Bowman

Undulating bowls, sloping half-pipes, cavernous barrels. A towering cradle that resembles Yosemite's Half Dome.

Devoid of their usual inhabitants, the skate parks dotting the stretches of California are alone works of art in the eyes of photographer Amir Zaki.

His new photo-book, California Concrete: A Landscape of Skateparks, features Zaki's photos of 12 major skate parks throughout the Golden State. The brutalist structures that emerge at these sites, from San Jose's Cunningham Lake to Linda Vista in San Diego, fill a void in landscape photography and capture a pivotal cultural moment.

Read the full article on NPR.

Latino History: Photographer Pedro E. Guerrero's Fascinating Journey

October 9, 2019 - Raul A. Reyes

The late photographer Pedro E. Guerrero used to have a humorous stock answer for the young people (and their parents) who approached him seeking advice on how to break into his field. “Start at the top,” he would say. “That’s what I did!” Although Guerrero was joking, his answer was not far from the truth. By the age of 22, he was under the tutelage of legendary architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright, and he went on to become one of the most sought-after commercial photographers of the “Mad Men” era in New York CityGuerrero later collaborated with the acclaimed sculptors Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson. Yet despite having worked closely with three of them most iconic American artists of the 20th century, Guerrero remains largely unknown.

Read the Full Article.

Photographs as Experiences about Looking: An Interview with Amir Zaki

October 7, 2019 - koozarch

Zaki has an ongoing interest in the rhetoric of authenticity, as it is associated with photography as an indexical media. Simultaneously, he is deeply invested in exploring digital technology’s transformative potential to disrupt that assumed authenticity. However, his interest is not in utilizing digital trickery as illustration to undermine a photograph’s veracity. In fact, Zaki often creates hybridized photographs that carefully use the vocabulary of the documentary style so that the viewer’s belief in its veracity remains intact, at least initially.  He constructs scenes that are somewhat off-register, ‘out of key’, and ever so slightly faux. He often uses the architectural and organic landscape of California as a subject, as it seems particularly appropriate to his process. This is largely because, either through media myth, reality or a combination of the two, the architecture and surrounding landscape in California is itself an evolving bastardization of styles and forms, in other words a pastiche. California is home to a collision of high modernist ideals, suburban McMansions, high-rise density, endless asphalt grids, deserts, mountains, beaches, Los Angeles urbanism, Inland Empire sprawl, Orange Curtain conservatism, the Crystal Cathedral, and the Integratron. It should be made clear that although Zaki is fascinated and inspired by this architectural and cultural entropy, his intention is not to record, replicate or simply document a preexisting postmodern pastiche. More precisely, his work begins with the familiar, by looking at objects, structures and locations that are often pedestrian and banal. And by capitalizing on the presumed veracity that photographs continue to command, along with the transformative, yet invisible digital alterations he employs, his images depict structures that that aspire to be added to the list of the hodge-podge built landscape that creates the California mythology.

Read Full Interview Here.

Review: For the black artists of CAAM’s ‘L.A. Blacksmith,’ metal has meaning

September 28, 2019 - Christopher Knight

In a sense, that’s the subject of “L.A. Blacksmith,” the engaging new group exhibition at the California African American Museum in which Woods’ wall relief is included. Independent curator jill moniz — she spells her name in all lowercase letters — looks to a hitherto unexamined strain of metalwork as integral to black L.A. artists’ work, mostly since the 1960s.

Read More.

Amir Zaki photographs California skateboard parks as Brutalist architecture

September 21, 2019 - LIESL BRADNER

California’s 1976-77 drought left lawns brown, showers short and backyard pools drained dry. But it also gave rise to a new wave of skateboarding, a time when the Z-Boys from Venice and Santa Monica jumped fences and skated in those empty concrete pools, in the process creating a radical new style of vertical sport.

Read full article here.

California's concrete skateparks come alive in a new photography book

September 12, 2019 - Sean Joyner

Released this month, California Concrete: A Landscape of Skateparks, takes the birthplace of skateboard culture and celebrates the dynamic landscapes created by Cali's expressive skateparks. Amir Zaki, creator of the book, is an artist and photographer who grew up skateboarding and has spent years photographing the built and natural landscape of California. 



Ruth Pastine in group show Fierce Generosity 2.0 opening Sept. 14 at Burnet in Wayzata

September 11, 2019 - Jason Jenkins

Burnet Fine Art & Advisory’s newest exhibition “Fierce Generosity 2.0” will open Saturday, Sept. 14, in its gallery at 775 Lake St. E., Wayzata. There will be a free opening reception 6-8 p.m. with an artist talk at 6:30 p.m.

“Fierce Generosity 2.0” was curated and organized by the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, a nonprofit based in Ojai, California. The exhibition showcases a selection of work by Rob Fischer, Cole M. James, Yassi Mazandi, Ruth Pastine, David Rathman and Aaron Spangler. 

The Skate Park as a Vessel to Contain Emptiness and the Imagination

September 10, 2019 - Tyler Stallings

“Empty Vessel” presents two new bodies of photographs by Amir Zaki featuring either vacant landscapes of skate parks or still-lives of shards from broken, ceramic containers. The shards are clearly from earthenware pots, but both subjects are “vessels” in that the skate parks are sunken into the clay of the earth. Hung in proximity to one another, sometimes juxtaposed, the images generate a complex conversation around the notion of “emptiness,” which includes removing presuppositions from one’s mind about what one is about to experience, is experiencing, or has experienced. By disentangling the mind of one’s own stories and worries, one can be open to other possibilities presented by perception itself. Thus Zaki’s “Empty Vessel,” as an exhibition, provides a platform for contemplating duality and the more ambiguous third space that exists between linked elements which cannot exist without each other: form and emptiness; function and aesthetics; holding and letting go; containing and emptying.