Morris is best known for her stack sculptures of alternating different coloured spheres, and they were born out of her grief after a stillbirth with the shape referencing both a swollen pregnant belly and the eggs that we all come from. It’s upon realising this that the works come into sharper focus, with the fact they look unbalanced and ready to tip over showing us how fragile life is and how easily we can all be knocked off balance by tragedy.
Facing off with these stacks is what at first looks like a series of inky black explosions on panes of glass but upon a closer look each work is a dense layering of words, something evident in most of Khan’s works, taken from poems he wrote after the stillbirth that Morris’ works reference, and the death of his mother. The layers ensure their inky blackness pulls you into what appears to be a void when viewed head on.
Words layered over one another also appear in Khan’s large scale paintings and the idea of memories also carries over to his sculptures - including a cast of 65,000 photos he took with his phone, that he then printed out and stacked upon one another before casting it into the finished piece that keeps the outline of the stack but none of the contents of the photographs. It feels like a totem to our memories as photographs are now how most of us remember the past having outsourced much of our memories to digital media.
A smaller similar totem that only incorporates the outline of 380 photographs is a monument to his mother, once he realised only that number of photographs still exist of her.
Not every work lands as Khan’s film referencing Bach isn’t as strong as his favoured medium of words and Morris’ oil stick drawings don’t carry the weight of her sculpture, though on bedsheets and as sofa coverings they do suit the domestic setting of the manor the exhibition spreads into.
Pitzhanger was John Soane’s family home and this is very much a personal exhibition that revolves around ideas of family and both artists create works on this theme that are beautiful and mesmerising to look at, and have a powerful emotional core to them.
All images: © Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery. Photo by Andy Stagg.
|What||Idris Khan & Annie Morris: When loss makes melodies - Pitzhanger, review|
|Where||Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery, Mattock Ln, London, W5 5EQ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Ealing Broadway (underground)|
04 Oct 23 – 07 Jan 24, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|