Magazine article Artforum International

Toba Khedoori

Magazine article Artforum International

Toba Khedoori

Article excerpt

Announced without fanfare or disclaimer, Toba Khedoori's immense but delicate works join the art party as reluctant guests enticed out of solitude. Her slow deliberations, inscribed as they are on empty expanses of paper, take uneasy position within the throng and jostle, where intimacy comes protected by the thick prophylactics of in-talk and irony. Standing aside from the slippery prattle of "discourse" and the quips of gallery-opening repartee, their allure is that of the lone stranger glimpsed from across a crowded room. Familiar in imagery yet emotionally distant, they are the conversations never had. By the time they are approached, they seem already to have slipped away, their beauty an opportunity, registered but unconsummated.

Khedoori's artworks begin life as vast stretches of paper laid out on the studio floor. Wax is laboriously melted, then puddled and scraped over these unrolled, parchmentlike sheets, as if in ritual preparation for the first tentative marks. Working sometimes from a model, sometimes from her imagination, Khedoori then incises the image into the surface. False starts become visible records of her hesitancy, like the stutter that precedes enunciations too long or complex to be managed in a single utterance. Yet the final outlines are impeccably rendered. Built into singular but sometimes obsessively repeated images - a crane, an aqueduct, a facade, a footbridge, a train - they are painstakingly colored, then pieced together in huge vertical panels stapled casually to the wall.

What the pictures represent is hard to say. Projections of a redundant future? Reconstructions of some golden past? The thread of their arguments is secret, their rules absurd, their perspectives deceitful. Within the minutiae of their detail, nearness and distance collapse. Horizons buckle as the orthogonals that anchor the solitary images within their pictorial fields refuse to converge, finding neither eye level nor vanishing point. Floating within this vacant proscenium, the windows, train carriages, and small explosions drift across our field of vision - thoughts that, detached from the continents of rationality, have the weightlessness of the unfulfillable wish. Immense and ponderous, their domain becomes that of the daydream, the philosophical category described by Gaston Bachelard as the movement of the motionless man. We board a train of thought only to find its carriages disconnected, its promises of movement and deliverance uncoupled. A pedestrian walkway offers safe passage over some unnavigable flow; but there are no people to make the passage, no river or road to cross - the promise of the other side nothing more than a reflection fading into incompleteness.

Innocent and beguiling, Khedoori's images float freely in vast spaces, oneiric plains where fantasy once roamed. …

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