Composites Attract

Idris Khan Scores at Victoria Miro

To fashion his seductive black-and-white images, Idris Khan translates seminal religious and cultural texts into an expressionist scrawl, densely layering facsimiles of books, musical scores and photography. “I was raised as a Muslim, and I was taught to read Arabic, but I never knew what the actual words meant,” he says. “Whether it’s unconscious or conscious, that has to be something that’s coming out in the work—this ‘condensement,’ this overlaying of a language that perhaps you can’t read.” Where the Birmingham-born artist’s earlier works focused predominantly on photographic collage (pieces such as Every … Turner Postcard from Tate Britain, 2004), he has since experimented with film montage (A Memory … After Bach’s Cello Suites, 2006) and, more recently, sculpture. Khan’s latest three-dimensional works, Seven Times and Listening to Glenn Gould’s Version of the Goldberg Variations While Thinking About Carl Andre, go on display this month at Victoria Miro as part of his second solo exhibition in the gallery. The latter’s title is self-explanatory: The steel L-shaped piece replicates the form of Carl Andre’s minimal sculpture Fall (1968), onto which Khan has sandblasted notation from Bach’s Goldberg Variations at a range of different intensities, a synthesis that was inspired by one of the 20th century’s most eccentric musical geniuses, Glenn Gould. “I’m fascinated by Glenn Gould as a person, as a pianist, as a musician,” Khan says. “He’d make everything his own, and I guess that’s what I try to do in the work as well... It’s not direct appropriation, but it’s using an idea from someone before me.” In today’s slideshow, Khan elaborates on his new work, accompanied by photography from Toby Glanville of the exhibition's installation and Gould’s classic performance of the Goldberg Variations from 1981.

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