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Y.Z. Kami
at Deitch Projects
The Chief
by Charlie Finch


There's a stunning, majestic portrait of a fire chief in the window of Deitch Projects on Grand Street, by Y. Z. Kami.

It's been reproduced on Artnet and elsewhere, but really must be seen in the flesh.

Few painters render melancholy satisfaction like Mr. Kami.

"Y.Z. invited the chief of or local firehouse, on Sixth Avenue, to pick a model for this memorial," Jeffrey Deitch told us, "They lost eleven firefighters on September 11."

"Finally, the chief came over to Kami's studio on 22nd St., and Y.Z. said, "Why don't you pose for me, chief?" The chief agreed.

It takes Kami routinely one year to paint each of his mournful impasto portraits in tandem.

The chief was rendered in a matter of weeks, to benefit the victims' fund. Foremost visually is the ragged yellow strip on the fireman's coat, jagged like war paint, challenging the worldwide chain of cowards who killed his brothers.

"I'd like a prominent public institution to display the chief as a permanent memorial," Deitch continued, "Maybe City Hall."

"How about the entrance to MoMA's Queens emporium?" We suggested.

Deitch smiled wanly. "The New York City Fire Museum is a possibility, or perhaps the museum of the city of New York," Deitch posited, "It's important that the portrait be a permanent memorial."

For eight million New Yorkers, there will always be a fireman in the window; it's worth a stroll down Grand Street to fully appreciate Kami's noble rendition.


CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).

 
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