my make believe collection :: 5 :: toba khedoori

Contributor post by Lisa Solomon

Untitled (doors),1996
oil paint and wax on paper
11 x 19 1/2 feet [from david zwirner gallery]

i was first introduced to toba khedoori when i worked in a gallery. my co-worker talked about her with awe in his voice.

i looked at some images of hers but wasn't convinced at first. NO IMAGE will ever do her work justice. i didn't really "get" her work until i was fortunate enough to view a room of 5 drawings at MOCA in los angeles.

khedoori creates these really amazing GRAND SCALE [think really really really big] works on paper. i'm not going to call them simply drawings or paintings because there really is a whole process involved in their creation. she joins huge sheets of paper and covers them in a layer of wax. then she makes maquette drawings and carefully transfers those to the wax - basically carving them in... and then painstakingly paints the imagery.

Untitled (Seats), 1996
Oil and wax on paper
11'6" x 25'
[from david zwirner gallery]

these drawings are about completely mundane everyday things that we might normally ignore or not be interested in: windows... doors.... chairs..... but these - these are the stuffs of our daily lives. and i think in some ways it is in these small choices that perhaps our personalities lie.... certainly what we choose to pay attention out of the millions of things that we pass on a day to day basis says a lot about who we are, what we notice, and how we might operate in the world.

there is certainly a meditative quality to these. a meditative quality that links khedoori to the minimal masters [like agness martin, or early frank stella]. these pieces spotlight something singular - these "things" exist in this humongous space - these pieces are so much bigger than you or me. and in the lusciousness of the surface [which unfortunately will never photograph] the images almost start to appear and disappear as you walk and blink in front of them. i also like the humility and humbleness of the paper. i don't think i'd be as interested in these if they were paintings on canvas - even at this scale. i am a true believer in the power of negative space - what you choose to omit and how much space you surround an object with has just as much weight and meaning to whatever it is you are actually representing.

i get lost in trying to imagine how she must repeat the same gesture immeasurable times. if you look too quick these will seem perfect - but really there are small subtle shifts - more or less pressure- a dark or open window... there is evidence of the hand [and our hands are wonderfully and perpetually incapable of making everything perfect or exactly the same].

i think, though, that one of my most favorite details that you can't see at all here is that the seemingly empty and perfectly quiet negative spaces of these work are in fact filled with footprints, dog prints, dust, lint and other detritus from khedoori's studio. how can you not be instantly charmed by a paw print? and how quickly does that shatter the illusion that these are "perfect" and sterile pieces of art? [very very quickly i'd say].

so which one do i want [and i wonder what she has been up to of late because in all my internet trolling i couldn't find anything more recent than a 2008 piece]....
Untitled, 1997
Oil and wax on paper
11.25' x 30'

i want this one. it belongs to the broad art foundation [which if you haven't checked them out - you should]. to me these benches are in dialogue - with themselves and with the space surrounding them. and i love park benches. you might suggest they are sad, but really i see them as pairs. together, not lonely. contemplative. and lovingly depicted.

you can follow my collection so far on pinterest [and can i just say that in my most recent peek the work thus far goes really well together... i might have to break out of this matchy matchy color scheme for my next pick !]. till next time....

Jan Halvarson


Sierra said...

Thank you Lisa for introducing us to toba khedoori, incredible work!!

lisa solomon said...

hi sierra - you are most most welcome ! i'm glad you like her work !

Rosemary/sonrie said...

she had a small exhibition at the st. louis art museum several years back...I enjoy her work as well.

Anonymous said...

WOW! THANKS for introducing me to someone whose work I would probably never had known, let alone even begun to understand. This is probably the best 'explanation' of the use of space in art that I have read up to now. I wonder if the space sometimes signifies the extent to which we, people in general, are both connected to but also still, and always, separated from others?