Monday, September 29, 2014
Waqas Khan

A Cosmos of Dots

Sabrina Amrani Gallery opens the season with Waqas Khan's cosmologies. The Pakistani artist returns, after two years from his debut solo show in Europe, to Sabrina Amrani Gallery in an exhibition with his new intriguing and vibrant work. The exhibition opens with ‘Breath of The Compassionate IV’ a work where the negative space is the protagonist. Inspired by the famous Islamic design formed by interlacing 8-point stars, Waqas gives a twist to this traditional arrangement to accommodate it to his own practice and technique.the show continues with the works ‘The Hole’ and ‘Untitled in Green’, 2014, where the artist works with new shapes and colour to achieve a greater sense of movement in its own third self-created dimensionality.

The ink and gesture through the stroke are Waqas Khan's means of expression. A binary language in which the silence and the emptiness are so defining as ink. This dichotomy along with the small scale, transforms its own materiality to create a third dimension inscribed in the two dimensional paper, that shapes and clarifies a complex whole. The viewer becomes involved in a direct relationship with a work that reflects the abstract, pure thought inherent to the artist. Waqas' paintings engage and do not give rise to obvious, elevating us to levels of sensations that are beyond what is evident. No dot, no line or mark drawn amongst the crowd of them that flood Khan’s work is superfluous. All contribute to form the perfect image of a social body and give meaning to it.

His practice in these two years has evolved to bring to the viewer more exciting and endless, seemingly moving compositions that are now even more intricate and miniature but ever-growing massive scales. These two years have been intense for the artist: he has exhibited in the most prestigious art fairs such as Art Basel, FIAC, Frieze London, Art Basel Hong Kong, Art Dubai, India Art Fair, Art Basel Miami and Art14 London; shown his work in multiple group shows in Vienna, New Delhi, Innsbruck, Madrid, Kraitchal, Kazan and Moscow; and he was shortlisted for the Jameel Prize 3. Furthermore, his work is now part of the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
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Lastly, among other bodies of work such as Interruption II, 2014, one of the most complete works by the artist in terms of technique; Waqas Khan will also present sixteen new compositions of his series ‘Forming Spaces’, delicate studies of forthcoming works and techniques. Waqas uses this small format to experiment and play with his strokes, achieving new designs and ways of intertwining the drawings that hater he introduces into bigger scale works.

Waqas works are one-single-tool-made meticulous surfaces intended for the eye of the viewer to be dancing endlessly on them, in the same way we sit silently and watch the world around us, gazing into the open wide sky full of stars or diving into the infinite depth of the ocean. The final purpose of his work is giving the viewer the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of visual infinity, the potential of philosophical awareness, and the visual effects produced inside the retina of the beholder, depending on the viewers’ eye.

In order to draw the miniature traces and dots of ink that conform the works with the precision required, Waqas needs to hold his breath while drawing, and exhale after the ink is on the paper, sustaining that moment to celebrate pure and holly silence. This mind-numbing repetitive process, over and over during long non-stop hours of work, drives him into an oneiric trance state that enables him to achieve works that evolve from simple dots into organic structures, patterns, contained space, volume and wonderfully refined mandala compositions, with a deceptive simplicity. The works do not look the same from different distances, this ambiguity is proposed by the artist as a play ground for the mind.

Waqas’ works are not mere drawings but are built up from ideas and concepts obtained from the Muslim, Hindu and Sufi idiosyncrasy. The artist's fascination, the interest in capturing a sense of narrative, lies more in the potential of where an unfinished storyline might go.

Waqas only uses permanent ink, wasli paper and Rotring pens as mediums to achieve his delicate and unique work. He does not use  magnifying glass or any kind of amplification lens to draw his paintings; he usually works during night time.