Apollo
Interviews

In the studio with… Idris Khan

20 April 2021

From his early composite photographs to more recent paintings and sculptures, Idris Khan’s work frequently employs techniques of layering and repetition – of images, texts, musical scores – raising questions about the nature of memory and experience. Currently on view at Victoria Miro in London, ‘Idris Khan: The Seasons Turn’ is an exhibition of paintings and works on paper created over the past 12 months, inspired by Vivaldi’s concertos and reflecting on the events of the past year (until 15 May).

Where is your studio?
Near Newington Green in East London.

What do you like most about the space?
It has a beautiful row of windows in the roof that allows light to fill the space. I also love the height, and because it’s on a mews it’s very quiet most of the time.

What frustrates you about it?
Studios are never big enough. One always needs more space.

Idris Khan in his London studio in April 2021.

Idris Khan in his London studio in April 2021. Photo: Annie Morris

How messy is your studio?
It’s not: I find it easier to concentrate in an organised space.

What’s the weirdest object in there?
I have more than 150,000 rubber stamps, which are relics from my paintings. Maybe it’s not weird – but it could seem odd and a little obsessive to some people.

Emotions Alter the World (2020), Idris Khan. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro; © Idris Khan

Emotions Alter the World (2020), Idris Khan. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro; © Idris Khan

Which artistic tool could you least do without?
I’d probably have to say my laser cutter, which cuts all the text and music for my wood-block stamps. It works so hard.

What’s the most well-thumbed book in your studio?
Right now, probably T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and Paul Celan, Breathturn into Timestead [the collected later poetry]. Over the past 10 years, probably Agnes Martin’s Writings.

Do you cook in the studio?
A lot of people on my team cook. I’ll often bring in a big pot of tarka dal. To be honest, when I’m working a quick bowl of poke from around the corner seems like the go-to recently.

The Seasons Turn – Autumn 2 (2021), Idris Khan.

The Seasons Turn – Autumn 2 (2021), Idris Khan. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro; © Idris Khan

What do you listen to while you’re working?
I find that different types of music help me and inform the paintings at certain parts of the day. I listen to Max Richter when I need to concentrate. I literally listened to ‘The Four Seasons Recomposed’ every day while making the watercolours for my new show at Victoria Miro. In the morning the studio team seem to love Radio 6 Music and I often take over with Kendrick Lamar at around 3pm to keep the energy up!

Do you ever sleep in your studio?
No, I’m too busy.

Is anything (or anyone) banned from your studio?
Negativity.

‘Idris Khan: The Seasons Turn’ is at Victoria Miro, London, until 15 May.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *