Kami Kotobi

Kami Kotobi

He was a gentle soul with a subtle smile. I had the chance to meet him on a couple of occasions. The first time was in Orange County a few years ago, where he lived. The second time it was at an art exhibit in San Francisco where his painting Iranian Woman, one of the winners of the SNAC (Social Network Art Competition) 2012, was on exhibit. I so wish there had been a third time. In fact a week before he passed on I was in OC. I wanted to go visit him, see his work close up and have a conversation with him.

I am at complete peace with the universe only and only when I paint or when I write.

Kami Kotobi was a skilled painter and sculptor. His paintings, often in mixed media, are somewhat abstract and surreal, richly textured and layered, dramatic and melancholic. “At its very core, artistic expression has to stir emotions, it has to challenge the norm, and it has to provoke thought,” he says in the interview below. “Whether I paint, sculpt or write…my ultimate objective is to create an alternate reality that is close enough to our realm and yet different enough to provoke thought,” he continues.

I think he effectively achieves all that. His art was well-received. He was active in the art scene in OC. He had several exhibits in OC and LA. For more on his art work, visit his virtual gallery. You can also see one of his last collections titled Woman in this clip.

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Iranian Woman by Kami Kotobi

Kami also had his way with words. He was a poet. He wrote beautiful poetry — both in Persian and English — and published them in his blog, Kami’s Corner, which was widely read. He eventually published a collection of his poetry as a book called Breathless in 2012. He often included verses of his poetry in his paintings. In Iranian Woman, he wrote:

Your intolerance she will endure
Your ignorance she will forgive
Your brutality she will refuse to accept
Your belittlements she will bear
Her compliance not a sign of frailty
Her silence not a badge of submission
Strong, willed and wise she is a lioness
Her beauty in and out you will never cover

Below is a good video recorded in 2012, where he talks about his art, poetry and his philosophy.

Despite his dedication to his art, he also had a successful professional career outside the art world. He received a BS (with honors) in business administration from Pepperdine University in 1996. He held a number of senior management and leadership roles running customer service and operations in several technology companies including Teradata, Virtualis, NCR and Fonality.

Kami was born in Iran in 1965. He immigrated to USA at the age of 17 and lived and worked in Southern California since. In April 2014 Kami died in his house in OC. He didn’t make it to his 50th birthday. The detail and circumstances of his death were not made public. His family, friends and fans were heartbroken over his untimely departure. We lost a wonderful mind and soul. The news of his death was one of those moments where one questions the meaning of it all. In Loving Memory of Kami Kotobi is a Facebook page in his memory. He shall be remembered. RIP.