I am Jelbert Karami. I was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1985. My love and passion for painting started at the age of 14 after seeing the beautiful paintings by one of the greatest Iranian poets and painters, Sohrab Sepehri, at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.
I started learning painting, drawing and art history with masters in Tehran, mounting my first solo exhibition there in 2005. At the age of 20, I committed my life to art, starting to paint professionally, holding workshops in private clubs in the city. The challenges of being an artist in Iran include extreme censorship of subject matter, and while an artist can become well-known, there are always eyes on him or her. I had several solo and group exhibitions in Iran, and I was active. However, I left my homeland for Vienna in 2015, stayed a few months, and came to the United States in 2016.
I also held several exhibitions in the United States, and I paint every day. Although there are many problems and difficulties in immigration, I have always tried to be active. Today, different issues have occupied my mind. It is no longer just the presence of human beings in my work, but I am working on various topics as well. The “Tree of Life” collection is one of the most fascinating collections, in my opinion. The fragmented trees, lonely and crumbling, seem to refer to the same human beings of my past, and this is completely unintended. The same thing is repeated in the collection of water bottles or in the works of collages. For me, some collections include four or five works; and some of my collections may even reach a hundred works; and that varies greatly.
My artworks reflect both my spirituality and my love for the nation, as well as my interest in Middle Eastern culture and human-rights issues. Witnessing my history disappear is devastating, but I believe that humanity can ultimately become a true community by reaching past darkness for light, and for me, that light came through art.
If I must tell you about my paintings and their subjects, I cannot describe to you the feeling I have when I am creating them; however, instead, I am asking you to look at them deeply so you could discover for yourself a new unique feeling. I do not want them to have labels. I do not desire to give you details about them like a peeled orange that is ready to be eaten, because you must peel the orange yourself to experience that special taste and feeling behind it.
Humans take an intuitive form in my work, but for me the hidden sorrows and darkness inside each person are revealed by each touch of a brush. Once I thought there was some room for freedom, but I am currently very unsure. I only know that we are like no choice that have been crucified in our own time, and I portray this image in my work not only because there is a way to be saved, but only for it to be expressed. Therefore, look at my work and listen so you could see.
Solo Exhibitions: 2022 Modesto Junior College Library, Modesto, California; 2015 Atashzad Art Gallery, Tehran, Iran; 2014 Shila Art Gallery, Tehran, Iran; 2013 Arasbaran Cultural Center, Tehran, Iran
Select Group Exhibitions: 2022 MJC Art Gallery, Modesto, California; 2020 Van Der Plas Gallery, New York; 2019 and 2017 Carnegie Art Center, Turlock, California; 2018 Museum of World Culture, Sweden; 2018 and 2017 Assyrian Art Exhibition organized by the Assyrian American Association of San Jose, California; 2017 University Art Gallery at Stanislaus State, California, organized by the Assyrian Arts Institute; 2017 Mistlin Gallery, Modesto, California
Digital Art Exhibitions: 2020 Digital Art Exhibition organized by Respond, University of Cambridge
3D Art Exhibitions: 2022 and 2021 Modesto Junior College Art Gallery, Modesto, California
Art Fairs: 2022 The Other Art Fair, Santa Monica, Los Angeles; 2022 The Other Art Fair, Virtual Edition; 2022 Superfine Art Fair, San Francisco
Awards: 2022 Honorable Mention—Art Drawing, Modesto Junior College, Modesto, California; 2022 Honorable Mention—Art-3-Dimensional, Modesto Junior College, Modesto, California; 2021 First Place—Painting, Modesto Junior College, Modesto, California; 2021 First Place—Drawing, Modesto Junior College, Modesto, California; 2021 First Place—Mixed Media, Modesto Junior College, Modesto, California; 2020 First Place—Painting, Modesto Junior College, Modesto, California; 2020 First Place—Mixed Media, Modesto Junior College, Modesto, California; 2020 Honorable Mention—Art-3-Dimensional, Modesto Junior College, Modesto, California; 2019 Award of Merit, Carnegie Art Showcase, Turlock, California