In his latest solo show in Vienna, Waqas Khan examines the omnipresence of the non-image.

Art Radar has a look at the Pakistani artist’s work on show.

Waqas Khan, "History, Memory or Geometry", 2018, Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger. Photo: Tamara Rametsteiner.

Waqas Khan, “History, Memory or Geometry”, 2018, Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger. Photo: Tamara Rametsteiner.

In his second major exhibition at Galerie Krinzinger, titled “History, Memory or Geometry”,  Pakistani artist Waqas Khan scrutinises the ubiquity of the non-image. His work invites the viewer into a world of solitude. It insists that the viewer become a participant, engaging with the innumerable passages of the marks and dots which can turn inward or as easily seep outwards in trials across silent spaces.

Waqas Khan, 'genesis to historical memory', 2018 ink on paper, 240 x 262 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger.

Waqas Khan, ‘genesis to historical memory’, 2018
ink on paper, 240 x 262 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger.

Khan, who studied printmaking at the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan, places with paramount meticulousness thousands of minute dots and lines on paper. Resistant to interpretation, ligaments of astonishing variability are emphasized by floating moments of estrangement in the artist’s monochromatic abstractions. There are deliberate imperfections, which when combined with a special breathing technique become an organic whole.

Waqas Khan, 'praise poems I (7/8)', 2018, ink on paper, 34 x 26.5 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger.

Waqas Khan, ‘praise poems I (7/8)’, 2018, ink on paper, 34 x 26.5 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger.

Viewers lose themselves in a whirlpool or are withdrawn by white works on white walls. Khan has broken old harmonies and has created new ones. Exploring themes of meditation and preeminence inspired by Sufi mysticism, Khan creates primarily monochrome compositions. These resemble complex webs and celestial expanses referencing the concept of infinity.

Waqas Khan, 'Untitled', 2018, ink on paper, 34.5 x 52 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger.

Waqas Khan, ‘Untitled’, 2018, ink on paper, 34.5 x 52 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger.

It was in his previous exhibition titled “Acoustics of Life” in 2015 at the Galerie Krinzinger that Khan combined delicate dots in black, red and white in extraordinary large arrangements on Wasli paper to form his ethereal structures. The current exhibition, “History, Memory or Geometry”, shows works that act like a series of montages, or as Khan states, “a performance”, representative of the lack of interactive communication and nonexistence of a foundation. The unification of the dots and dashes seem silent or voiceless, but yet all-embracing in their possibilities of meaning.

Waqas Khan, 'triptite', 2018 ink on paper, 186.5 x 249 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger.

Waqas Khan, ‘triptite’, 2018, ink on paper, 186.5 x 249 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger.

Khan has tirelessly worked on this show for the last two years, travelling back and forth between Pakistan and Austria in order to get a feel and understanding of what the space requires from him. The main gallery spot at Galerie Krinzinger is a familiar territory for him and his creative narrative emanates through the expansive setting.

According to Khan,

This work literally changed me, as a person and an artist and it put me in a humbler position. I had to remain in a meditative state of mind.

Waqas Khan, 'Untitled', 2018, ink on paper, 53 x 68 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger.

Waqas Khan, ‘Untitled’, 2018, ink on paper, 53 x 68 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger.

The show takes place in four major exhibition rooms. One room is dedicated to drawings with white ink on white paper mounted onto white walls. In the second room, Khan has installed semi-circular mirror walls that lead the viewer into the third room, which showcases black on black drawings mounted into black walls. The third room is mainly dedicated to small works as a reference to Khan’s older works.

Waqas Khan, 'praise poems II (10/12)', 2018, ink on paper, 34 x 26.5 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger.

Waqas Khan, ‘praise poems II (10/12)’, 2018, ink on paper, 34 x 26.5 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger.

Waqas Khan, "History, Memory or Geometry", 2018, Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger. Photo: Tamara Rametsteiner.

Waqas Khan, “History, Memory or Geometry”, 2018, Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna. Image courtesy Galerie Krinzinger and the artist. © 2018 Galerie Krinzinger. Photo: Tamara Rametsteiner.

Summing up his experience of this major solo show, Khan states that the entire exhibition works like a recital“, whereby the audience interacts with the canvas at leisure. Khan’s oeuvre has evolved into a meditative one that evokes a subtle feeling of floating and bliss.

Shireen Ikram

2339

“History, Memory or Geometry” by Waqas Khan is on view from 8 September to 6 October 2018 at Galerie Krinzinger, Seilerstätte 16, 1010 Vienna, Austria.

Related topics: Pakistani, printmaking, gallery shows, memory, Vienna

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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