For over 25 years, Toba Khedoori, born in Sydney in 1964, now living in Los Angeles, has been developing a body of work that can be described as an outstanding and unusual contribution to contemporary art. Her works—always the outcome of a lengthy, highly concentrated production process—oscillate line between painting and drawing, yet they also have a distinctly haptic quality. As a rule, the starting point for her art are sheets of paper treated with wax that she combines to form monumental picture carriers.
© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2021. All Rights Reserved
Khedoori then does immensely detailed drawings in graphite and oil paints, which are extraordinarily precise in their execution. Her motifs range from buildings, windows, cinema seats, and fireplaces to branches, grasses, clouds, horizon lines, and more. Human beings are only ever present in the traces they leave; they are never the prime focus of a composition. In many works, the motifs are detached from their original context and occupy an expansive, empty pictorial space. Time and place appear not to apply in these realms. This, in turn, creates a situation where certain works develop moments of abstraction, which open up yet another dimension in Khedoori’s art.
Since 2008, Khedoori has also done paintings on canvas that are considerably smaller than the aforementioned works on paper. These smaller pieces continue to engage with themes arising from the tension between human beings and the natural world, albeit with a greater emphasis on the interplay of representationalism and abstraction. Many of these compositions avoid easy legibility, with the result that the interaction of lines, structures, and colors comes to the fore. Regardless of their level of abstraction these paintings exude an unusual strength—quiet yet remarkable—which in fact characterizes all of Khedoori’s art. This innate strength raises questions about the fundamental parameters of life and, in so doing, establishes the philosophical meta-
Due to the special quality of her oeuvre the artist’s works already formed part of the international discourse early on, giving her a strong presence within the institutional context. For instance, her work was featured, among others, in 1997 and 1998 in solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis as well as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C. These presentations were followed in 2001 by extensive acknowledgements of her practice at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Basel and the Whitechapel Gallery in London. In addition, her drawings and paintings have been showcased as part of group exhibitions such as the Bienal Internacional de Arte de São Paulo in 2004, the Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art in 2006, and the Venice Biennale in 2009. Further highlights in her exhibition history came in 2016 with retrospectives at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Most recently, Khedoori’s work was featured in group exhibitions at the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen/Basel in 2019 and the Hayward Gallery in London in 2020.
From October 9, 2021 to February 20, 2022, the Fridericianum in Kassel will therefore be devoting a comprehensive solo exhibition to her, with this ambitious project also representing the first major show in Europe in over twenty years. By means of selected works created between 1994 and 2021, the show will illustrate the diversity of her graphic and painterly oeuvre as well as its development.
Curator team : Julia Schleis, Alexandra Sommer and Moritz Wesseler
Exhibition 09 October 2021 -
Toba Khedoori, Untitled, 2018. Oil on waxed paper, 243,8 x 335 cm. Collection of Alex Hank. © Toba Khedoori. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles and David Zwirner.