Victoria Miro, London

‘The work is influenced in part by the language of minimalism. However, unlike the minimalists, Khan brings into play a host of fragmentary voices and contradictory readings.’

For Absorbing Light, which just opened at Victoria Miro London, Idris Khan presents a new body of work, his most comprehensive in four years which includes a monumental sculpture, multi-part installation taking up most of the gallery’s floor space, paintings of stripe formations, and works on paper.

As you walk into the well-lit top floor gallery with views of the city, the most arresting sight in these dark-hued show are bronzes on the floor. 46 seemingly abstract blocks when one approaches them reveal text and numerical inscriptions and are taken from stories or testimonies from conflict, interlaced with Khan’s personal responses to them. The work is visibly influenced partly by minimalism but Khan is more interested in ‘fragmentary voices and contradictory readings: on the one hand, quantifiable geometric form; on the other, immeasurable subjective experience.’ Surrounding this floor piece are large monochrome painted with texts made with large-scale stamps, applied repetitively and ritualistically to the surface.

This installation marks an important departure for Khan as this is the first time he is showing bronze works alongside abstract paintings. In these new works, two- and three-dimensional forms are triggered by a desire to ascertain how scale, mass, and volume are perceived, measured or remembered in times of sensory deprivation, or through fragmentary accounts from stories or testimonies of conflicts.

Walking through the entire exhibition, one is reminded of the human body’s relationship to scale and space. It is both intimate and unnerving because both physical darkness and the metaphorical and emotional darkness are points of departure for these profound and enigmatic works. A visit to Absorbing Light stirs up a range of emotion whilst undoubtedly takes the viewer on a journeying into meditation time, through layerings of material and meaning alluding a time gone by or one that will remain forever unknown to the viewer.

Absorbing Light is on view at Victoria Miro London until 21 December 2017

Featured Image: Idris Khan in his London studio, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London.