Victoria Miro is delighted to announce an exhibition of new work by Idris Khan.
Idris Khan's second solo show with the gallery, will consist of two major sculptural installations and a number of new photographic works that interlink seemingly disparate ideas of religion, Minimalism, music and poetry Khan's new body of work has a more formal engagement with the material he appropriates, in order to elicit a kind of lyricism and spirituality using a Minimal aesthetic.
Occupying the upper gallery is Seven Times, a monumental floor installation that consists of 144 sandblasted cubes made of oil-sealed steel. Arranged in a grid the work replicates the exact dimension of the footprint of the Kaaba. The Kaaba (literally "the cube" in Arabic) is an ancient stone structure that was built and re-built by prophets as a house of monotheistic worship. It is located inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Kaaba is considered the centre of the Muslim world, and is a unifying focal point for Islamic worship. Muslims face towards the Kaaba during daily prayer and it is the most sacred site for Muslims to visit at least once in their life. The code of this holy place requires that pilgrims circumnavigate the Kaaba seven times, counter-clockwise. In his own words, Khan describes: "This cube is never not being circled by people. A constant flow, circling a black box - and it is believed that if this stops then the world ends."
Each cube in Seven Times is sandblasted to inscribe the Arabic prayers that Muslims perform five times a day. Through this technique, what remains is a, soft, poetic mark made through a process of aggressive removal of surface. The fragments of the prayer which bisect each cube have been repeated and superimposed five times, in a process akin to Khan's characteristic layering of appropriated material in his photographic works. The installation Seven Times also embodies the Minimalist principles of works by artists like Carl Andre, such as the use of industrial materials, the employment of modular units, and the articulation of three-dimensionality through its use of negative as well as positive space. Andre also experimented with poetry, searching for 'linguistic equivalents' to his sculpture.
In the lower gallery are other works that reference Minimalism and religion. Khan's sculptural piece Listening to Glenn Gould's Version of the Goldberg Variations while thinking about Carl Andre, consists of 30 steel panels aligned in two rows, through the centre of which runs a continuous line of music from Gould's version of the Variations.
In a new photographic work The Creation, Khan appropriates the score from Joseph Haydn's oratorio of the same name, considered by many to be his masterpiece. The Creation is about the origin of the world and took Haydn so long to complete that he became a devout Christian to summon the strength to finish it. Another photo-work arranges each of the twelve poems of Milton's Paradise Lost in a grid, collapsing these epic verses about the Fall of Man into illegible lines and spaces. Through the dense layering of his material, Khan creates elegantly abstracted linear fields that resonate with a new formalism
Born in Birmingham in 1978, Idris Khan received his MFA from the Royal College of Art in 2004 and lives and works in London. He had a major solo exhibition at K20, Düsseldorf in 2008 and has also exhibited at The Musuem of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto 2009, Espace Louis Vuitton , Paris 2009, Baibakov Art Projects, Moscow (2009), IKON, Birmingham (2009), Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2009), Andalusian Centre of Photography, Spain (2008), Art Dubai (2008), Forum d'art contemporain, Luxembourg (2008), inIVA, London (2006), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2006) and Helsinki Kunsthalle (2005). Khan will feature in the forthcoming exhibition Haunted at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (2010) which will travel to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.