Toba Khedoori is known for her precisely rendered, intricate works depicting familiar objects divorced from any background. For the past two decades, she has created her own atlas of solitary spaces, windows, doors, train compartments, and horizon lines always devoid of a human presence. Usually drawn, and sometimes painted, onto paper, the otherwise empty compositions envelop the viewer's entire field of vision, but their proportion appears autonomous from a real-life referent. The works appear at once fragile and monumental, flat and illusory.
Born in 1964 in Sydney, Khedoori received her M.F.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1994. Joining the gallery that same year, she was one of the first artists to be represented by David Zwirner. A solo show, which marked her sixth at the gallery in New York, was on view in 2012. A publication was produced on the occasion of this body of work by the gallery with Radius Books and includes an essay by Julien Bismuth.
At the Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany, a solo exhibition of the artist's work was on view in 2021-2022. In 2019-2020, a large selection of works by Khedoori was presented in a group exhibition titled Resonating Spaces at Fondation Beyeler in Basel. In 2016, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art organized a major solo exhibition of Khedoori’s work, marking her first museum survey in over a decade. The show traveled to Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) in 2017.
Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions worldwide, including the St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri (2003); Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (2002); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2001); Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel (2001); and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (1997). Her first museum solo exhibition was organized in 1997 by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and traveled to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In 2002, Khedoori was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Grant. She has participated in a number of international group exhibitions, including the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009); Liverpool Biennial (2006); 26th São Paulo Biennial (2004); and the 1995 Whitney Biennial, among others.
Work by the artist is represented in major museum collections worldwide, including The Broad, Los Angeles; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. She lives and works in Los Angeles.
Toba Khedoori’s first solo exhibition in Germany is now open at the Fridericianum in Kassel, on view from October 9, 2021, through February 20, 2022. Curated by Moritz Wesseler, this major survey presents twenty-three works created between 1994 and 2021.
The exhibition includes detailed drawings of ordinary motifs—from buildings and windows to grass, clouds, and horizons, among others—on large-scale sheets of paper treated with wax, as well as paintings on canvas that Khedoori began making in 2008. Considerably smaller than Khedoori’s works on paper, the paintings consider the tension between human beings and the natural world.
“The Australian artist with Iraqi roots develops a philosophy of the everyday in her impressive works painted with old-masterly precision…Toba Khedoori questions the philosophical foundations and individual and aesthetic preconditions of our perception and, above all, how we locate ourselves in this world,” noted Eva Claudia Scholtz, Executive Director of the Hessische Kulturstiftung.
To accompany the exhibition, the Fridericianum will also publish a catalogue featuring an essay by curator Mark Godfrey. Khedoori will present a solo exhibition at David Zwirner in New York in 2022, of which selected works are included in the Fridericianum show.
October 6, 2019–January 26, 2020
“Khedoori elevates the experience of the commonplace by treating ordinary objects and bits and pieces of nature as if they were precious baubles. Her attention to detail, her surrealist wit, and her appreciation for the magic of the everyday remind us to take stock of what surrounds us and to never be without a room of our own.” —Franklin Sirmans, curator of the recent Toba Khedoori retrospective at LACMA and Pérez Art Museum Miami in 2016–2017.
A large selection of works by Khedoori will be presented in a group exhibition titled Resonating Spaces, opening next month at Fondation Beyeler in Basel. Curated by Theodora Vischer and also featuring contributions by Leonor Antunes, Silvia Bächli, Susan Philipsz, and Rachel Whiteread, the show brings together works that “evoke spaces between the identifiable and the elusive. They create sites and respites, in which the capacity of remembering is elicited and images and memories come to life.”
Khedoori has been celebrated for more than two decades for mostly large scale paintings on paper in which visual understatement belies a powerful effect. The artist has created her own intricate atlas of objects and spaces—windows, doors, train compartments, natural forms, and horizon lines that are devoid of human presence and divorced from any background. Although over the last decade the artist made a series on medium-sized stretched canvases, she recently started focusing on large scale paintings on paper again, with compositions characterized by a tension between figure and ground. Khedoori’s precisely rendered imagery envelops the viewer's field of vision, appearing at once fragile and monumental, flat and illusory.
Image: Toba Khedoori, Untitled, 2019 (detail)
Solo exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Pérez Art Museum, Miami
Traveling to the Pérez Art Museum in Miami (April 21–September 24, 2017) from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (September 25, 2016–March 19, 2017), Toba Khedoori was the artist's first museum survey exhibition in fifteen years.
Organized by Franklin Sirmans, former LACMA curator and head of contemporary art prior to his appointment as Director of the Pérez Art Museum, the exhibition surveyed over 20 years of Khedoori's work. Included were large-scale early works on paper, as well as oil paintings on canvas that the artist has been creating in recent years. For Sirmans, Khedoori's "attention to detail, her surrealist wit, and her appreciation for the magic of the everyday remind us to take stock of what surrounds us."
Read more: The exhibition was reviewed in the Miami Herald and the Los Angeles Times.