Idris Khan: The Dream Songs
Idris Khan (b. 1978) employs a wide range of different media - including sculpture, painting, print and photography - which he uses to investigate memory and the passage of time. His work often consists of densely layered imagery that hovers between abstraction and figuration, and draws on diverse cultural sources including literature, philosophy, religion and the history of art and music. The Dream Songs, 2020, are specifically inspired by the poems of John Berryman (1914 - 1972), a major figure of twentieth-century American poetry; Berryman is best known for his formidable anthology entitled, The Dream Songs, to which the artist pays tribute in the title of this new series.
Berryman's The Dream Songs feature a sequence of 385 sonnet-like poems, containing scrambled and fractured language and tone, both playful and morbid, that draw on past and present events and literary figures. Khan comments; “I admire poets who deal with despair, pleasure, insomnia, selfishness, sublimation, habit, boredom, anger, disappointment, sorrow, and self-delusion.”
It is within this context that Khan wrote his own words, an outburst of ideas, thoughts and dreams, realised during a year that has been dominated by the pandemic and which proved to be the catalyst for this powerful new body of work.
To create these new reliefs, Khan’s words and lines of text were repeatedly layered onto the surface of three separate sheets of acrylic. The sheer concentration of text at the centre of each panel intentionally renders the words illegible, eradicating their meaning. Conversely, towards the edges of the composition a sparser application of layers results in words and phrases being gradually revealed. Khan encourages the viewer to engage both with the legible text as well the dense, visceral centre, to bring their own thoughts and feelings to each of the pieces.
The sheets of acrylic are equally spaced and held in place by a bracket affixed to the wall and designed by the artist. The presentation allows the shapes and words to literally ‘float’, so that Khan’s thoughts appear as if suspended in time.
The six works, each made in an edition of 25, are now available to purchase individually or as a set. Please view the works below and contact [email protected] if you would like to receive prices or require any further information. As the gallery is currently closed to the public, we are not able to answer telephone enquiries for this edition.
Header image: Installation view of Idris Khan; The Dream Songs, 2020.
The Dream Songs, 2020