Details & Cataloguing

Boundless: Dubai


Idris Khan
B. 1978
oil based ink on acid free paper
119.3 by 100.3cm.; 46 7/8 by 39 1/2 in.
Executed in 2013, this work is unique. 
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Gallery Isabelle van den Eydne, Dubai
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2013


Dubai, Gallery Isabelle van den Eydne, Beginning at the End; Idris Khan, March - April 2013

Catalogue Note

Taken from the 2013 series Beyond the Black, Idris Khan’s enigmatically-titled This Thing is an example of the artist’s enduring fascination with the Nietzschean binaries of order and disorder; clarity and obscurity; control and abandon. This Thing is suitably Delphic in its form, made up of hundreds of lines of Arabic layered radially with increasing opacity towards a completely shrouded centre point. The effect is one in which an excess of meaning eventually leads to obscurity.

The text itself is taken from the artist’s own writings in response to art, literature, philosophy and religion. These lines of thought are hand stamped on top of each other, mutually confusing their meanings and progressively inhibiting understanding. The fluid shaping and manipulation of the text as a whole inevitably raises questions of language, form and the structures of consciousness.

The compelling use of the demonstrative ‘this’ in the title explicitly demands the attention of the viewer, and contributes to Khan’s effort to produce a meditative silence when faced with the complex structure of the work. One is drawn into the central abyss of This Thing through a spoked fringe of text towards an undefined black hinterland. While Khan’s monochromatic palette speaks to a modernist heritage of black paintings, through Malevich and Rothko to Serra, the artist rejects a monolithic approach in favour of a more fragile, fragmentary configuration.

Boundless: Dubai