Samdani Art Foundation




February 5-8, 2016  |  WAQAS KHAN  |  Dhaka Art Summit

Waqas Khan, In the Name of god, 2015. Commissioned and produced by Samdani Art Foundation for the Dhaka Art Summit 2016. Courtesy of the artist, Samdani Art Foundation, Dhaka Art Summit and Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna. Photo credit: Jenni Carter

“Mysticism is a difficult path of approximation to reality understood as that which is most profound, most true, the mystery of the communion between the self and the whole,” writes curator Rosa Martínez. Waqas Khan’s newest work, In the name of god presents four open books transcending the exhibition space to bring the viewer to higher spiritual plane. Khan’s “text” is contradictory in the sense that is universally illegible but infinitely understandable. Through a meditative practice inspired by Sufism, a spiritual movement credited for the beginnings of Islam in Bangladesh, Khan’s works are created by the emotions that flow from his hand to traditional handmade wasli paper. Khan’s primarily monochrome compositions resemble complex webs and celestial expanses that reference eternity and sublime, heterotopic spaces. A simple change in the artist’s breathing or the tension with which he holds the pen will completely transform the work.

Repetition is a key part of physical and spiritual training – by repeating motions continuously, one can achieve new heights. Khan describes himself as a changed person through the process of each work; a record of his body and emotion in space and time. In a region where language has devastated communities over the past century (from the Language movement in Bangladesh to the Civil War in Sri Lanka), the Sufi spirit of synthesis and diversity opens up new potential for understanding. Khan’s work requires empathy from the viewer to access its emotional meaning and a release of ego to understand what is not explicitly spelled out.