Artist Keith Khan collaborates with Burberry to give the city of Leeds a unique Gift.
“It has been such a privilege to support LEEDS 2023 and to come together with Keith Khan to celebrate the city with a project that honours the region’s unique textile heritage. We were thrilled to create something so special and lasting for the local community, and we hope that the textile artworks will instil a sense of pride and joy for the wards, both now and for generations to come.”
Rob Blomfield, Vice President of Burberry’s Business Services office in Leeds
Selection of works by Keith Khan
“The work I produce is inspired by the palimpsest of Caribbean culture. Ignoring the Caribs and Arawaks, the colonisers, Spanish, Dutch and English, traded people from India and Africa. My family was part of this. Sometimes the work I make is artistic, from Caribbean and colonial themes, other with very clear stories to create access. I use syncreticism, hiding images and forms with one another, like nesting Russian dolls. A simple example: the triangle is a resonant symbol with slavery and the LBGTQ+ people.”
“Sugar Cane Cutter Legs”
An exhibition of drawings, prints and films by Keith Khan.
When slavery was finally abolished in the Caribbean Islands in 1834, the slave owners were compensated and a replacement work force was sought in India. ‘Sugar cane cutter legs’ were the characteristics which the press gangs in Kolkata and Chennai were looking for in the indentured workers sent to labour in the fields of Trinidad. Other workers, the so called ‘Boat Brahmin’ came willingly, looking for a new life amongst the cane fields.
Pictorially, Khan’s work takes us through 5,000 years of art; referencing the ancient traditions of Indian Chittara, Madhubani and Saura painting, through to the futurism of Op Art and the generative art of fractals. With their boldly choreographed layers of rhythmic black lines and blocks of intense colour, Khan’s digital drawings rendered on fabric make us physically aware of the entwined folklore and histories of the island – an irresistible reminder that the carnival of history is really just a brief fold in time. Stories have power and Khan’s drawings are not stilled or confined by their surface but pulsate and radiate, a joyful blend of syncretic symbolism, pulling the viewer into a vortex of fable and form.
Written by Celia Bailey
Teratological Drawing 2021
Drawing on paper
For Traces – Bagri Art Trail, Yarli Allison, Zarah Hussain, and Keith Khan created original micro-commissions that were shown alongside the fantastic collections of Marchant, Shahnaz and Peter Finer galleries respectively. These encounters sparked conversations between traditional and contemporary art with the creation of three original works that were on show for the duration of Asian Art in London, from 21 October to 6 November 2021.
For this commission Khan built the figure of a gigantic god-like form of no specific denomination with its multiple faces and expressions, composed of interlaced historical and personal experiences that open a door to an earthly otherworldliness.
Hombre Hueso (Bone Man), 2020
This short film animates 2 of Khan’s carnivalesque characters in an experiment of form within form, empty space and 3-D camera movement.
Digital Animation Made for web platforms and mobile devices
Telemann is a short abstract digital animation, featuring a sequence of images inspired by folk art. Set to the score, lines and shapes create a series of paintings that make up the narrative of this film.
14 min film
Premiere 8th June LADA screens
Z (Zeta) is inspired by movements of penitence, derived from processional, and tortuous Catholic rituals. Inspired by the painter Zurbarán, his sparsely laid out ceramic objects and monks are transformed into brutal terracotta buildings, and urban deserts, with saint like figures. Filmed in Alicante, containing samples from the Easter procession of Los Manais de Girona, and an Orthodox mass in Romania.
China / India are research films, created from interviews and locations in Shanghai, Beijing, Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, and Ahmedabad. These are towards a project about the culture and data of both places. These will be used towards the development of a show.
Made for Alter Image, C4
Alter Image was an arts magazine series commissioned by Channel 4 in the 80's. This program is dedicated to
His early work was created for clubs, for example the Zap club in Brighton, Pyramid club, New York (“Images from Purdah” with Diane Esguerra). He created large ink drawings on muslin, that were used as installations in his performances, along with extravagant costuming. His first performances, such as “Soucouyan” (Bluecoat, Liverpool) and “Flying Costumes, Floating Tombs” (Arnolfini / LIFT) featured diverse casts of drummers and dancers from African, Asian and Caribbean backgrounds, framed by community groups from deaf choirs, club DJ´s and canoeists, in these very designed environments. Thematically, these performances were based on the images from Caribbean folklore.