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Idris Khan Makes US Museum Debut at the Milwaukee Art Museum

On view now at the Milwaukee Art Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Idris Khan: Repeat After Me marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in the United States. Born in 1978, Idris Khan explores the lyrical, symbolic, and physical meanings of repetition. His works span media, from photography and video to painting and sculpture, and focus on gestures of repetition as a means of physically marking time, memory, loss, transformation, and ultimately, transcendence.

Showcasing major works covering every facet of Khan’s career, Idris Khan: Repeat After Me traces his investigations across time and media, and inaugurates a never-before-seen body of paintings he created expressly for the presentation at the Milwaukee Art Museum. In these works, he synthesizes his earliest concerns with photographic reproduction while delving into the integral role of color in iconic masterworks of art history and our memories of them.

The exhibition opens with Khan’s first forays into photography, which focused on digital accumulation and combined collections of images into single photographic prints. In his next phase of work, he expanded on these conceptually rigorous investigations and physically stamped layers of his own words onto canvas, glass, and paper. These paintings teem with words, symbols, and musical notes, placing the verbal and lyrical side by side.

Khan’s most recent explorations turn to the language of color and its ability to contain and release a world of memories, associations, and emotions. He combines jewel-like colors with delicately stained sheet music, layered on top of rich, stamped surfaces; the musical marks and fugues of pigment create a shimmering harmony — a colorful, sonic rhythm.

The exhibition is curated by Marcelle Polednik, PhD, Donna and Donald Baumgartner Director of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

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