Hyperrealist photographer Amir Zaki’s new monograph covers 20+ years of photographic work, following his widely reviewed book California Concrete: A Landscape of Skateparks. Includes an essay and interview.
A double gatefold sculptural monograph with no singular entry or exit and three spines, Amir Zaki, Building + Becoming opens to a full width of roughly 40 inches and brings multiple series into focus: suspended landscapes, rocks, carvings, and hyper-realist California beach architecture, which like his skateparks (also included), are uncannily quiet and devoid of people. “I am looking for a kind of strangeness within the commonplace … where something familiar and unfamiliar is initially welcoming yet alienating, using digital technology as a means to an end.”
Literary critics Walter Benn Michaels and Jennifer Ashton discuss Zaki’s manipulation of space through evenness, which is accomplished by creating a perfectly technically focused object: “The point is not that the pictures overcome physical limits, but that they violate the logic of our eyesight.” Referencing the history of landscape and modern photography in California (Edward Weston, Ansel Adams), Michaels and Ashton show that Zaki’s insistence on marrying technology seamlessly with this tradition results in continuity, an “addition through subtraction” of the third-dimension.
Zaki has been interviewed for NPR online and featured or reviewed in the New York Times, Art in America, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, as well as having been interviewed in Dezeen, Wallpaper, The New Order, Elle Decor, Hypebeast, GUP Magazine, and Aramco World. His last book, California Concrete is in the top 50 in Skateboarding books and top 150 in Individual Photographer books on Amazon.
Zaki makes photographs that are slightly off-key, like a troubling thought you can’t dislodge. Architectural studies were the focus of Zaki’s previous series, in which he incorporated strange, invented symbols into the signage of ordinary churches, gas stations and strip mall eateries. His pictures are seamless and quite beautiful. —Art in America
Amir Zaki makes stately, often elegant photographs that subtly undermine perceptions of coherence and stability in architecture. His relentlessly inquisitive spirit uncovers the peculiar, the precarious, the buoyant and the beautiful in the structures we tend to pass with little thought. Broadening his scope here from the architecture itself to the incongruous intertwining of architecture and nature, he reveals telling strains of resistance and pliability in both. —Los Angeles Times
The self-described “hybrid photography” of Amir Zaki nails the essence of the subjects he captures on camera while also making them cryptic or confounding. Rules of perspective and spatial logic are frequently and ingeniously tossed aside. Wherever he turns his attention, Zaki’s eye-befuddling wizardry takes you deep below the surface.
Amir does a really nice job of showcasing the unique character of a skatepark landscape. It can look brutalist, elegant, and otherworldly all at the same time.
—Jaxon Statzell, lead designer, CA Skateparks
Zaki’s raw, hyper-detailed photography is taken from the perspective of the skater, from decks to bowls, half- and quarter-pipes, encapsulating the sculptural fluidity and liberation presented by these free-flowing Brutalist terrains. The resulting collection of images is an honest, unabashed and detailed homage to the sport. In an age where skating has arguably lost touch with its counter-culture roots, Zaki’s photographic exploration is a testimonial callback to its origins — a reminder of the importance of space to the nurturing of worldwide phenomena.