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Idris Khan: New Photographs

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new photographs by the British artist Idris Khan. Khan is most recognized for his multi-layered photographs that draw from sources as wide-ranging as musical scores, literary texts, and the history of art and photography. While his photographs pay homage to the originals, something entirely new emerges in the process. Approximately thirteen new photographs will be on view.

Khan has consistently mined the history of art and literature for inspiration and source material. In this new body of work, a simple documentary photograph—Cy Twombly’s own snapshot of an unfinished blackboard painting in his studio in the 1960s—is his point of departure. Inspired by this photograph, Khan built a large chalkboard in his studio and documented the process of creating his own images triggered by Twombly’s famous scrawls and scribbles. The resulting accretion of moments depicts both the nearly-readable marks, as well as their immediate erasure, superimposed upon each other in numerous layers.

I wanted to capture every part of the process so that when my final composition was done it included every trace and erasure made while creating an unreadable language. I wanted the writing to become free and to live beyond the starting point.

In previous works, Khan has referenced the Bechers, Turner, Beethoven, and Rembrandt, among others; here he draws additional inspiration from John Cage, Agnes Martin, childhood poems, and ritual texts from the Islamic hajj. In recent years, sculpture and drawing have played a more pronounced role in his artistic practice as he blends homage and appropriation with his own mark-making.

Born in Birmingham in 1978, Khan lives and works in London. Solo exhibitions of his work have been mounted at the Gothenburg Konsthall, Sweden (2011), the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (2009), and K20, Düsseldorf (2008). His work has been exhibited at Forum d’art Contemporain, Luxembourg (2008), the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2006), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2006), and the Helsinki Kunsthalle (2005). His work is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, among others. This is his second solo exhibition with Fraenkel Gallery.