Waqas Khan: Exhibition Review

Waqas Khan at Manchester Art Gallery.

I remember back when I was at University, one of my lecturers said to me; ‘There are two types of art. One, the type you appreciate for the meaning behind it. Two, the type you appreciate for the work that has gone into it.’ Waqas Khan’s work definitely falls into the latter. The amount of time it must take to create all the lines, the dots, the marks. So intricate, so incredible.

The Lahore based artist has his first solo exhibition of this kind at Manchester Art Gallery, which is part of the collaborative ‘South Asia art and culture programme.’ The stand out pieces for me were ‘In the Name of God II’. At over 6 metres long, this piece is huge in scale, which makes all the tiny, repetitive, rhythmic lines even more unbelievable. I couldn’t help but think how much ink he went through to create this work. The negative space on the paper, to me, resembled an ink spillage falling down across the paper. Yet I could also see an Ordance Survey map, the lines on the paper mirroring that of the Earth’s contours with the negative space representing the ocean.

Another piece from Waqas that stood out was part of his ‘Symphony and a Trio’ work. White ink on white paper, this microscopic art is so delicate, you could walk right by and not see it. Practically invisible, it makes the work look almost embossed. The best way to see it is to literally stand millimetres away from the piece. It takes a second for your eyes to focus before you see the minuscule marks so beautifully drawn on the paper.

The description of the exhibition reads, ‘Waqas Khan creates abstract, minimalist drawings which invite contemplation and meditative reflection. Using small dashes and minuscule circles, he creates large-scale works in one colour. Khan is inspired not only by patterns of biological organic growth but also the lives and literature of Sufi poets. Khan’s work is a meditation of infinity, eternity and the universe.’ It also mentions how he gets into a ‘trance-like state’ which you can understand when you see the artwork. To be able to create so many tiny, identical lines would take real patience. That is the beauty of the work, you can truly appreciate the effort and time put into each and every gentle, mark.

Waqas Khan’s exhibition is on from 30th September 2017 till 25th February 2018.

Manchester Art Gallery is open everyday from 10am – 5pm (late night opening on Thursday till 9pm).

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