Idris Khan came to prominence as a photographer, although his photographs have always been experimental, pushing the medium, as in his videos, paintings, and sculptures. He juxtaposes the conceptual with the painterly, the mechanically or digitally reproduced with manual interventions, language and its slippages, and the theoretical and the political, as this show demonstrated. Of the more than two dozen new works, many were large-scale ink on white or gray gesso on aluminum, with the remaining pieces mostly photographic.
The imagery in almost all the pieces was constructed from countless lines of finely printed text, overlaid so that they appear illegible except at the peripheries. An idiosyncratic cross between minimalist and flamboyant, they are neither the one nor the other. Khan adds, reveals, and erases according to his own mode of encryption. His signature superimpositions are ratcheted up in the imposing Overture (2015); its seven plates of clear glass are imprinted with a starburst suspended one after the other on an aluminum frame. It is as much three-dimensional painting as it is sculpture, its density exponentially increased. With carefully considered elegance, Khan alludes to the chaos of migration, global conflicts, memory, and time and its feints and traces, made all the more compelling by his obliquity.
A version of this story originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 94.