Critics’ Picks

Toba Khedoori, Untitled (Doors), 1995, oil and wax on paper, 11 x 19 1/2'.

Toba Khedoori, Untitled (Doors), 1995, oil and wax on paper, 11 x 19 1/2'.

Los Angeles

Toba Khedoori

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
September 25, 2016–March 19, 2017

The way through doors. The thingness of things. The sheer magnitude of the sublime. With graphite, oil, and encaustic on waxy expanses of paper sheets and the thinnest linen, Toba Khedoori carefully draws and paints the quiet intensity of doorways and windows, simple objects floating in vast space, and natural phenomena so large that even when they stretch thirty feet across the expanse of a museum’s white wall—as in Untitled (Horizon), 1999—their infinite potential can barely be contained.

To see more than twenty-five of Khedoori’s works––silent, restrained, meticulously wrought, and generally massive in scale––spanning almost as many years is to see a life spent in diligent contemplation. The earliest works here capture the oppression of crowds via the rows of closed doors in Untitled (Doors), 1995, and row after row of empty theater seats in Untitled (Seats), 1996. The works grow more intimate and domestic with depictions of fireplaces such as Untitled (White Fireplace), 2005, and finish with the tangle of nature in Untitled (Leaves/Branches) and the dream of a perfect underlying net of reality in the wholly abstract and gently bent Untitled (Grid), both 2015. Her expanses of empty paper, fleshed with wax and battered slightly by the spaces she crafts them in, make all that white less oppressive than the walls around them. Their off-white shimmer fills the emptiness. (The occasional full-bleed blacks, on the other hand, feel as heavy as black holes). Here is a soft, infinite space one can feel but never fully comprehend, except perhaps one tiny pencil stroke at a time.