September 03 till 16 October, 2010
When a billiards player plays über bande or “off the rails”, he or she looks for an indirect path to the target. Cue in hand, the player initiates contact in one more places on the white ball, sectioning off part of the table before – ideally – pocketing the targeted ball with the necessary shot. Pictured in the mind’s eye, the chain of events on the pool table evokes the same formal elements characteristic of Shila Khatami’s paintings: lines, angles, circles, diagonals…
And yet this initial impression is only the beginning.
“Über Bande” is Shila Khatami’s second solo exhibition at Clages gallery, and it is not the first time the artist has ventured a connection to a non-art terrain. With other sports-related titles such as “Ping Pong” (Clages, 2008) and “Topspin” (Galerie Susanna Kulli, 2010), the artist – born 1976 in Saarbrücken – draws not only formally on references to outside subject matter, but also in terms of content.
Khatami’s art is even-handed, foregrounding neither strict, geometric forms nor gesture. Both are subject to a dialogical principle that is once again made clear in her current exhibition: Traversing the space and ending in a right angle, Khatami’s art hangs in the typical, perforated Masonite boards she repeatedly uses for her paintings. What seems to be makeshift, single modules are fastened to a copper pipe suspended 35 centimeters over the floor with nylon thread, lending the piece a Spartan, fragmented peek at what is hanging behind them as visitors to the exhibition set the various modules of the sculpture in motion. The rigid diagonals of the whole are broken. A dripping line, drawn with an outstretched arm, goes a step further in destabilizing the existing, uniform pattern of the perforated boards. The piece guides visitors through the room, drawing attention to the way the paintings are hung.
The language Khatami uses here is one seemingly to be familiar to everyone, though another narrative element is added through the shapes, color palettes and individual titles of each of the works – all informed by everyday observations. Just as a billiard ball deviates from the pragmatic, direct path in a looping, “off the rails” shot, the artist succeeds in articulating the “penetrability between an autonomous pictorial language and one grounded in the real world” (Konrad Bitterli)