Idris Khan. Overture

11 Sep 2015 – 24 Oct 2015

Sean Kelly Gallery

New York
New York, United States


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Sean Kelly is delighted to announce Overture, a solo exhibition of new work by London based artist Idris Khan.


This will be Khan’s first exhibition with the gallery and his first solo exhibition in New York since 2010. A press preview with the artist will take place on Thursday, September 10 at 10am. The opening reception will take place the same evening, from 6:00 to 8:00pm, and the artist will be present. 

Overture will present over 25 new works exploring philosophical and theoretical ideas surrounding global displacement and conflict, demonstrating Khan's profound interrogation into language and meaning over a wide array of media — painting, sculpture, photography, works on paper, and, for the first time in his career, works on glass. Khan has developed a unique narrative drawing on diverse cultural sources including art, literature, philosophy and music. His densely layered imagery inhabits the space between abstraction and figuration that speaks to themes of history, cumulative experience and the metaphysical collapse of time into single moments.

In this new body of work, Khan overlays thousands of lines of writing until all of the words meld into a single image, obscuring any one viewpoint and eliminating a definitive reading of the text. Whether it is on large gesso panels, in a photograph or onto glass, Khan’s multilayered approach creates a sense of expanded time, allowing the viewer to contemplate a deeper meaning buried within language. Through a continuous process of creating and erasing, adding new layers, whilst retaining traces of what has been, Khan creates something entirely new by way of superimposition and repetition. Two highlights of the exhibition will be a monumental sculpture comprised of seven panes of glass suspended in an aluminum framework – each pane containing words, which form an abstract radial constellation – and a large-scale site-specific wall drawing that Khan will be creating at the gallery. 

Born in Birmingham in 1978, Idris Khan received his MFA from the Royal College of Art in 2004 and lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include The Whitworth Gallery, University of Manchester (2012); Gothenburg Konsthall, Sweden (2011); The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto (2010); Kunsthaus Murz, Murzzuschlag, Austria (2010) and K20, Düsseldorf (2008). His work has also been included in group exhibitions at The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (2015); The Bass Museum of Art, Miami (2014 - 2015); The Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2014); Jeu de Paume, Paris (2013); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, Florida (2013); The British Museum, London (2012); The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo (2012); The Fundament Foundation, Tilburg (2011); The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010); and Martin-Gropius Bau, Berlin (2009). In 2014 Khan collaborated with choreographer Wayne McGregor and Composer Max Richter to produce stage designs for Kairos a featured production in STEPS, Switzerland's contemporary dance biennale, which will be shown at The Edinburgh Festival next summer. In 2016, Khan will have an extensive career exhibition at the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan. 

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Idris Khan


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