Employing seminal texts, musical scores and paintings as well as key works from the photographic oeuvre, Idris Khan transforms the cool art of appropriation into a meditation about authorship and time. To create his works, Khan often photographs a variety of material - sometimes borrowed, sometimes of his own creation - in series and digitally layers the results, accentuating certain areas or adjusting the light, shade or opacity of the images so that resonant composites are created. The results spark new thoughts about the original content, or open up seams of interpretation. For example, with individual notes and staves almost indecipherable, in Struggling to Hear... After Ludwig van Beethoven Sonatas, 2005, the sheet music for Beethoven's entire series of sonatas becomes a dense wall of near blackness that alludes to the composer's encroaching deafness.
Khan's work challenges our assumptions about various media - how they are received and digested. Words and music, which we experience sequentially and which gain power from repetition are to an extent robbed of their function by becoming almost solid images. Existing images, such as photographs of gas holders and water towers taken by the German photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher, are in Khan's work made to appear ghostly, animated with lines of energy and pulsing with life. Khan extends the photographic moment and his images, far from appearing to be the result of mechanical reproduction, become suffused with a kind of aura or spirit that lends them the quality of drawings.
"it’s obviously not about re-photographing the photographs to make exact copies, but to intervene and bring a spectrum of feelings – warmth, humour, anxiety – to what might otherwise be considered cool aloof image. You can see the illusion of my hand in the layering. It looks like a drawing. It’s not systematic or uniform. The opacity of every layer is a different fallible, human decision".
Born in Birmingham in 1978, Khan now lives and works in London. He had a major solo exhibition at K20, Düsseldorf in 2008 and has also exhibited at Art Dubai (2008), Forum d'art contemporain, Luxembourg (2008), inIVA, London (2006), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2006) and Helsinki Kunsthalle (2005).
☁ IDRIS KHAN@ SAATCHI
☁ IDRIS KHAN@ VICTORIA MIRO
☁ IDRIS KHAN /// THE GUARDIAN
☁ IDRIS KHAN 2 FRAENKEL GALLERY