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b. 1978, United Kingdom

Idris Khan Biography

British artist Idris Khan OBE is known for his multi-layered photographs, paintings, and sculptures that take on a variety of source material, ranging from musical scores to theological texts.

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Life

Khan was born in 1978 in Birmingham, England. In 2000, he received a BA in Photography from the University of Derby. He went on to receive his MFA with a Distinction in Research from the Royal College of Art, London in 2004.

Khan was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his contributions in the art field in 2017. In the same year, he was awarded the American Architecture Prize for his design of Abu Dhabi's Wahat Al Karama, a monument at the centre of a new memorial park to commemorate soldiers of the United Arab Emirates. In 2018, he was commissioned by the British Museum for their first site-specific artwork entitled 21 Stones.

Idris Khan Artworks

Through a variety of media such as sculpture, painting, and photography, Idris Khan's work explores the layering of methods, experience and meaning. Drawing from a variety of source material ranging from art and music to theology and philosophy, Kahn creates new forms and concepts through superimposition and augmentation.

While the artist sees his practice as been situated in the medium of painting, he often uses photomechanical techniques of reproduction. He often scans and photographs his source material and meticulously manipulates their qualities to achieve a certain intensity, sometimes creating ethereal C-prints in the process.

In the past, he has photographed or scanned secondary source material to create works such as every... page of the Quran (2004), Struggling to Hear.... After Ludwig van Beethoven Sonatas (2005), and every... William Turner postcard from Tate Britain (2004). The source material is as reflected in the title of these works.

Sculpture

Khan has also branched into sculpture, sometimes sandblasting texts, prayers, and scores onto steel plates and slabs to interrogate how cultural and historical material can be joined together through objects.

His honeycomb and carbon sculpture Cell (2017) takes inspiration from Saydnaya, Syria's most brutal prison. This towering four-metre tall sculpture reflects on solitary confinement and the spaces that inmates occupy. Composed of 15 columns, Khan's sculpture looks almost impenetrable, but upon closer inspection, the viewer catches a glimmer of hope as light is allowed to pass through its cracks.

Public commissions

In 2016, Khan designed the 42,000 m2 memorial sculpture at Abu Dhabi's most prominent landmark, Wahat Al Karama. This massive sculpture, designed to reference unity and honour soldiers of the UAE, is composed of 20,000 cubic meters of concrete, over 5,000 tonnes of steel, and over 120km of cables. It contains seven aluminum-encased steel tablets etched with poetry written by emirs of the country.

In 2019, Khan completed a public sculpture project in London by St. George City Ltd in collaboration with London Borough of Southwark. The eight-metre aluminium sculpture, 65,0000 Photographs, is composed of stacks of metal sheets in the same size as photographic prints increasing in size.

Exhibitions

Idris Khan has held solo exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions at important art institutions, including at the British Museum, London; K20, Düsseldorf; Kunsthaus Murz, Austria; and The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.

Collections

Kahn's work has been collected by major institutions such as LACMA, Los Angeles; Saatchi Gallery, London; Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

Arianna Mercado | Ocula | 2021

Idris Khan
featured artworks

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Lines of hope by Idris Khan contemporary artwork painting, drawing
Idris Khan Lines of hope, 2024 Oil based ink on gesso ground, aluminuim panel
210 x 174 x 3 cm
Sean Kelly Request Price & Availability
A hard-silenced tear by Idris Khan contemporary artwork painting, drawing
Idris Khan A hard-silenced tear, 2023 Oil based ink on gesso ground, aluminuim panel
250.5 x 200 x 3 cm
Sean Kelly Request Price & Availability
Quartet by Idris Khan contemporary artwork painting, photography
Idris Khan Quartet, 2019 Gesso and oil stick on black and white fibre print mounted on aluminum panel
77.3 x 52.7 x 1.5 cm
Galerie Thomas Schulte Request Price & Availability
A Hard-Silenced Tear by Idris Khan contemporary artwork painting
Idris Khan A Hard-Silenced Tear, 2023 Oil-based ink on gesso, on aluminium
250.5 x 200 cm
Victoria Miro Request Price & Availability
My Mother by Idris Khan contemporary artwork sculpture
Idris Khan My Mother, 2019 Jesmonite, pigment, fixings
21 x 10 x 8 inches
Victoria Miro Request Price & Availability
65,000 Photographs (Maquette) by Idris Khan contemporary artwork sculpture
Idris Khan 65,000 Photographs (Maquette), 2019 Jesmonite and steel armature
100 x 21 x 21 cm
Victoria Miro Request Price & Availability
A Field of Dust by Idris Khan contemporary artwork mixed media
Idris Khan A Field of Dust, 2015 Digital bromide mounted on rag board and aluminium
50.8 x 61 cm
Victoria Miro Request Price & Availability
Disappearing Line by Idris Khan contemporary artwork mixed media
Idris Khan Disappearing Line, 2015 Silver Gelatin Print mounted on rag board and aluminum
59 x 69.1 x 5.1 cm
Victoria Miro Request Price & Availability
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Idris Khan
recent exhibitions

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Represented by these
Ocula Member Galleries

Sean Kelly contemporary art gallery in New York, United States
Sean Kelly Los Angeles, New York, Taipei
Victoria Miro contemporary art gallery in Wharf Road, London, United Kingdom
Victoria Miro London, Venice
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