Spotlight: Idris Khan Inaugurates Sean Kelly’s L.A. Space With Lyrical Works Entwining Musical Notation and Prose
"Idris Khan: The Pattern of Landscape" is on view through November 5.
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What You Need to Know: This month, Sean Kelly Gallery is inaugurating its new Los Angeles space with a rhythmic and ruminative exhibition of works by British artist Idris Khan. The show, “The Pattern of Landscape,” brings together a sweeping new body of work by the artist created over the past year, encompassing large-scale paintings, bronze sculptures, watercolors on paper, and photographs. Khan is best known for his black-and-white works which have focused on musical composition and texts. The artist first began expanding his palette to incorporate a saturated hue of blue into his works for the 2019 exhibition “Blue Rhythms” at Sean Kelly in New York. Here, the artist takes his experiments with color further, as with the inclusion of a rich copper blue. He tackles new terrains in terms of medium, too, with bronze sculptures and works in gesso on aluminum also making their first appearances.
Why We Like It: Khan’s works are simultaneously meditative and thought-provoking, and in this luminously contemplative exhibition we can see the artist at once collapsing and expanding his interests. Music, which has been an enduring area of fascination for Khan, here entwines with a newfound interest in landscape and the passage of time. These themes were inspired by Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and take form in a series of 22 watercolors titled “The Pattern of Landscape” (from which the exhibition takes its name). Khan taps into these musical and temporal themes through rich and evocative color choices that call to mind the changing leaves in the autumn, the verdant spring, and all the fleeting moments in between. Meanwhile, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Preludes provided inspiration for Khan’s first sculptures in bronze—two of which are included in the exhibition—and which are intricately inscribed with the entirety of the score, through the use of 3D printing. Also notable, Khan has for the first time created works that reference both music and text in a single space. In these, the artist has situated a square field of musical notations and scores upon a rectangular ground of text derived from philosophical writings, creating a kind of window inside a window on canvas. Of such works, Khan has said, “I want people to come into this very meditative space and stand into these quite large paintings and fall into the frame, that center square that almost feels like it’s hovering.”
According to the Gallery: “For Khan, the combination of music and text is his way of representing the rhythm of the world reverberating through daily life. He presents both languages simultaneously, with music as the universal language. Compositionally, these paintings present a formal departure from Khan’s earlier ‘Rhythm Paintings,’ which featured a line bisecting the canvas to create two separate blocks of text. In these new works, Khan leaves an exposed band of pure color across the bottom of the painting, untouched by music or text, hovering as if part of a pictorial and cultural landscape,” wrote the gallery in a statement.
See works in the exhibition below.
“Idris Khan: The Pattern of Landscape” is on view at Sean Kelly, Los Angeles, through November 5, 2022.
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