Photographs and Drawings
On Friday, November 16th 2012, Galerie Thomas Schulte
opens its third solo exhibition of British artist Idris
Khan. Along with new photographic work, the gallery’s
Corner Space will showcase a wall piece by the artist.
Idris Khan will be present at the opening from 7 - 9 pm.
Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in London in
2004, Idris Khan has created a distinctive body of photographic
and video work distinguished by its impressive resolve.
Using the methods of digital manipulation available today,
Khan explores intermedial relations in the digital age and
references a diverse array of artifacts from throughout cultural
history. Bach and Beethoven scores serve as references
alongside Caravaggio paintings and the photography of Bernd
and Hilla Becher. In a blend of appropriation and artistic creation
of the new, the artist superimposes digital reproductions
over one another and compresses them into a single image.
The transparency of the individual layers causes the original
work to fade into the background. Merely traces and shadows
remain on the photographic surface, denying legibility.
In recent years, Khan has begun using his own material and
has turned increasingly toward drawing and sculpture. The
point of origin of his new pieces, of which Galerie Thomas
Schulte will show about 17, was a photograph by Cy Twombly
from the 1960s depicting one of his ‘blackboard paintings’.
In a continuation of Abstract Expressionism, Twombly
applied his scriptural drawings in chalk onto a slate-like surface.
Inspired by Twombly’s snapshot, Idris Khan documented his
own scriptural drawings onto chalkboard. Like Twombly,
Khan’s method of drawing also refuses legibility to the deciphering
gaze of the observer, his lines and loops also remain
within the drawings’ code. The resulting photographic work,
produced with Khan’s characteristic method of layering images,
bears traces of still recognizable signs, as much as their
immediate eradication. Through digital layering, the digital
reproductions which have come into existence over a period
of time are transferred into a state of simultaneity by Khan’s
drawing process. The idea of linear time appears to be suspended
here. Khan’s rhythmically interwoven sign codes superimpose
themselves one over another and condense, they
conceal each other, as if they attempted to render the written
The large-scale wall piece designated to be realized in the gallery’s
Corner Space also addresses the themes of message encoding
and writing as a medium of storing knowledge. The
script, applied by stamp in radiating trajectories, is layered so
as to render the actual text difficult to decipher. Frequently
employing Islamic scripture in his earlier work, the artist has
turned to the late medieval theologian Master Eckhart to
complete this series. The circular form of the repetitively applied
writing correlates to the Dominican’s treatment of time
and eternity in his texts.
Idris Khan, born 1978 in Birmingham, England, lives and works in
London. Since his graduation from the Royal College of Art in London
in 2004, his work has been shown in solo exhibitions by numerous international
institutions, such as the Göteborg Konsthall in Gothenburg,
Sweden (2011), the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto,
Canada (2009), and the K20 Kunstsammlung NRW in Dusseldorf
(2008). Khan was also featured in numerous group exhibitions, for instance
at the Forum d’art Contemporain, Luxembourg (2008), the Victoria
and Albert Museum, London (2006), the San Francisco Museum
of Modern Art (2006) and at the Helsinki Kunsthalle (2005). Khan’s
work can be found in numerous renowned public collections, such as the
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the San Francisco Museum
of Modern Art, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Solomon R.
Guggenheim Museum, New York City.