Idris Khan

Words Beneath Words

Special Collectors’ Edition.

Idris Khan is acclaimed for works in a variety of media that inhabit the space between abstraction and figuration, and speak to themes of history, cumulative experience and the metaphysical collapse of time into single, cohesive moments. For this latest body of work, Khan uses wood blocks, stamping oil-based ink on to the surface of panes of glass floating within an aluminium armature to create images of intense power and presence.

To create these new works, Khan stamps texts on to each pane of glass. In doing so, he gradually builds up a surface where words and phrases – a series of personal reflections by the artist often inspired by key philosophical and poetic texts – begin to break down as textual information, remaining legible only at the very edges of the composition. The resulting abstract radial compositions evoke forces of great energy.

Questions of repetition and superimposition have always been central to Khan’s practice.  The act of repetition and layering, meditative, at times even cathartic for the artist, invites a range of responses from the viewer.

It is in this contemplative space that both the processes of Minimalist art and allusions to the role of repetition in the world’s major religions are brought into focus – as a vehicle for transcendence and a conduit of the sublime.

The philosophical and material qualities of these works, each completed in a different jewel tone, poised between transparency and opacity, and activated by the play of light across them, find special resonance in Venice with its centuries-old history of glass making.

Published on the occasion of the exhibition, Idris Khan: Words Beneath Words, at Victoria Miro, Venice (26 October – 14 December 2019), this special collectors’ edition book features an essay by Nick Hackworth exploring the themes and motifs of Khan’s latest body of work.

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