Idris Khan: Beyond the Black at Victoria Miro Gallery
Beyond the Black is a show that dwells on the “metaphysics of creativity”. In less abstract terms, an exploration of the nature and existence of creating. Metaphysics is ultimately concerned with attempting to answer the fairly messy question: “What is there?”
In this case there are a series of large black-on-black exhibits depicting geometrical shapes like the aptly named quadrilateral Shapes, and abstract impressions, not unlike tree leaves or flowers, like Emptiness. What’s interesting is that they are created from densely massed words. This is not apparent at first; the shapes, from a distance, appear to be made of an intricate texture, but when you look closer, you notice many, many words all working inwards towards a black hole at the centre of each work – or alternatively radiating outwards.
The problem with this kind of art is that it is often so meaningful, and so important to the artist, that to others, most of the effort and thought behind it is lost. What remains for the viewer is very little, if any at all, of the Nietzschean, Sartrean and metaphysical philosophic influences that inspired the 14 works on display. They are all impressive simply in being what they are: at the very least you can respect the patience behind the idea, and the subtlety in building these large shapes out of small words.
However, unless you really know what’s going on behind the scenes, they tend to be quite similar. When you’ve seen one pattern you move on and see another: a different design, yes, but ostensibly the same. The only real break in the pack is the huge work, from which the show takes its name, Beyond the Black, which covers the upstairs back wall – a black and white version of the same thing. It’s a very interesting exhibit conceptually, but it won’t hold attention for very long.
Photos: Krish Nagari
Beyond the Black is at the Victoria Miro Gallery from 20th September until 9th November 2013. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.