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Toba Khedoori at the Fridericianum

Press Invitation: Toba Khedoori at the Fridericianum
Toba Khedoori
October 8, 2021 – February 20, 2022
Opening: Friday, October 8, 2021, 5 pm – 10 pm
Fridericianum, Friedrichsplatz 18, 34117 Kassel
Press Preview: Thursday, October 7, 2021, 11.30 am
Dr. Sabine Schormann, General Director of documenta und Museum Fridericianum gGmbH
Moritz Wesseler, Director of the Fridericianum 
We look forward to your participation. Please register under

For over twenty-five years, Toba Khedoori, born in Sydney in 1964, now living in Los Angeles, has been developing a body of work that can be described as one of the most outstanding and unusual contributions to contemporary art. Her works—always the outcome of a lengthy, highly concentrated production process—oscillate between painting and drawing, yet they also have a distinctly haptic quality. As a rule, the starting point for her art are sheets of paper treated with wax that she combines to form monumental picture carriers. Khedoori then does immensely detailed drawings in graphite and oil paints, which are extraordinarily precise in their execution. Her motifs range from buildings, windows, cinema seats, and fireplaces to branches, grasses, clouds, horizon lines, and more. Human beings are only ever present in the traces they leave; they are never the prime focus of a composition. In many works, the motifs are detached from their original context and occupy an expansive, empty pictorial space. Time and place appear not to apply in these realms. This, in turn, creates a situation where certain works develop moments of abstraction, which open up yet another dimension in Khedoori’s art.
Since 2008, Khedoori has also done paintings on canvas that are considerably smaller than the aforementioned works on paper. These smaller pieces continue to engage with themes arising from the tension between human beings and the natural world, albeit with a greater emphasis on the interplay of representationalism and abstraction. Many of these compositions avoid easy legibility, with the result that the interaction of lines, structures, and colors comes to the fore. Regardless of their level of abstraction these paintings exude an unusual strength—quiet yet remarkable—which in fact characterizes all of Khedoori’s art. This innate strength raises questions about the fundamental parameters of life and, in so doing, establishes the philosophical meta-level of her work.
Due to the special quality of her oeuvre the artist’s works already formed part of the international discourse early on, giving her a strong presence within the institutional context. For instance, her work was featured, among others, in 1997 and 1998 in solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis as well as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C. These presentations were followed in 2001 by extensive acknowledgements of her practice at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Basel and the Whitechapel Gallery in London. In addition, her drawings and paintings have been showcased as part of group exhibitions such as the Bienal Internacional de Arte de São Paulo in 2004, the Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art in 2006, and the Venice Biennale in 2009. Further highlights in her exhibition history came in 2016 with retrospectives at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Pérez Art Museum Miami. In Germany, an in-depth examination of Khedoori’s oeuvre has yet to take place. From October 9, 2021 to February 20, 2022, the Fridericianum in Kassel will therefore be devoting a comprehensive solo exhibition to her, with this ambitious project also representing the first major solo exhibition in Europe in over twenty years. By means of selected works created between 1994 and 2021, the show will illustrate the diversity of her graphic and painterly oeuvre as well as its development over the last three decades.

The presentation in Kassel is generously supported by Hessische Kulturstiftung: “With the first solo exhibition of the artist Toba Khedoori in Germany, the Fridericianum in Kassel once again impressively proves that it is one of the leading exhibition venues in the Federal Republic. The Australian artist with Iranian roots develops a philosophy of the everyday in her impressive works painted with old-masterly precision. With her art, Toba Khedoori questions the philosophical foundations and individual and aesthetic preconditions of our perception and, above all, how we locate ourselves in this world.” Eva Claudia Scholtz, Executive Director of the Hessische Kulturstiftung