Waqas Khan’s Meditative Dot Paintings Document Space and Time
Waqas Khan’s painstakingly rendered geometric paintings are a reflection, he says, of a “spiritual journey,” both for him and for the viewers of his large-scale, time-intensive images. Khan’s work, which spins detailed patterns out of extraordinarily fine dots and dashes, seeks to capture the relationship between time and space. “Each dot or mark or line,” says the Pakistani artist, “when they come together, [is] like making organic forms, like cells.”
Khan’s process is the product of a disciplined approach both to printmaking—which he studied at the National College of the Arts in Lahore—and an interest in Sufi traditions as well as Persian miniature painting. Since leaving school in 2008, Khan has exhibited at international art fairs, including Art Dubai and Frieze; his latest exhibition, “Acoustics of Life” at Galerie Krinzinger, marks the 33-year-old artist’s first solo show. For this collection, Khan’s contemplative, delicate, and occasionally biomorphic figures are displayed alongside works of truly epic proportions. The text in continum (2015), a massive sculptural object resembling a book, upon closer inspection, becomes an intricate series of lines resembling the ridges of a thumbprint.
Approaching his work with both practical and spiritual concerns, Khan uses traditional materials such as handmade Wasli paper and the favored inks of miniature painters—inks that cannot be erased and therefore require the utmost concentration. He works methodically to transform small marks into grand expressions. In part to keep his hands from shaking, he employs a technique of steady breathing. However, as with his practice as a whole, the existential calm required is nearly inseparable from his material practice. Thus the artist’s paintings are a procedural expression of time spent. “The relative interplay of space and time,” says the artist, “is a continuous cycle of causes and effects and vice versa, a process which becomes a palette for me, essential in my explorations.”