Toba Khedoori Untitled White Fireplace 2006

Toba Khedoori
Untitled (White Fireplace) 2006
3607 x 4877 mm
Wax, oil paint on paper
Installation view at Tate Liverpool 2006
Photo © Tate 2006
Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Untitled (Black Window) 2006
3658 x 5639 mm
Encaustic, wax, oil paint on paper
Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Khedoori’s conceptually charged paintings on paper have a monumental scale that contradicts the reticent manner in which they are deployed. Taken from the urban environment, her subjects are typically isolated architectural structures or details. Always familiar to the viewer – windows, doors, stairways, paths, benches – they may be considered the building blocks of the social world.

As with all her work, the subjects in Khedoori’s most recent paintings become emblematic – but of exactly what we are never quite sure. Previously her palette has remained largely monotone, as if retaining an honesty to the act of painting. Now, in one work, Untitled (White Fireplace), the subject is depicted in naturalistic colour with an almost photographic realism. The fireplace, a symbol of domestic ideal and tradition, is at first alluring in its warmth, colour and depth, its perspective giving an almost tangible presence. However, forced into and confronted by its environment – the scale is such that the painting surrounds us – we begin to ask uncomfortable questions of the place presented to us yet of which we are given only partial information. Where are we? Why are we here? What, or who, lies beyond the picture’s edge?

Untitled (Black Window) which, unusually for Khedoori, fills the entire picture surface, is more stifling still. The sinister, looming black wall contrasts dramatically with the radiant light shining through it. As with so much of the artist’s work, the distortions of scale have a dislocating, overpowering effect on the viewer. The questions posed by White Fireplace are answered: we become imprisoned in Black Window.