October 24 till December 14, 2008

In music theory, “counterpoint” refers to the technique of adding a second voice to the first in the course of a melody. A harmonic complement, the second line of notes counters the first while following its own melodic rules. Shila Khatami uses a similar method in her work, combining a vocabulary of gestural abstraction with that of geometric minimalism. Here, the musical “note-against-note” becomes a painterly ping-pong, with both approaches asserting themselves independently of one another, reacting to each other at the same time.

The works in the artist’s first solo exhibition at Galerie Clages speak to this very interplay. Two holed pieces of hardboard lean against a wall in the center of the space. The boards are slightly offset from one another, differentiating the surface: the openings in the wooden planks overlap, the paint-dripped space peeking through the holes shows a striking second color through the first, even the white walls are visible, becoming part of the sculpture. The layers blur completely in the transition: the regular pattern is camouflaged by the changing structures, and interferences foil the strict pattern on the boards. The same principle is also visible in the paintings: Shila Khatami constructs geometric forms with painterly means, distorted by the expressive color and clearly visible traces of the artistic process.

The play with contradicting, differentiating concepts is a striking feature of much of the artist’s work. Born 1976 in Saarbrücken, Khatami often uses industrially manufactured, perforated hardboard as templates for geometric patterns, often using them directly as a canvas. It is through this layering of various paints, softly diffused surfaces, pastose streaks of color and strictly defined forms and lines that Khatami develops a variety of textures – adding to them again and again in a rhythm of “counterpoints”. The structuring elements always seem ready to dissolve at any moment – and yet it is through them that a carefully constructed, balanced interdependence of consonants and dissonants emerges.

Friederike Gratz