Radhika Khimji (b.1979 Muscat, Oman) studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and holds a MA in Art History from University College London. Recent solo exhibitions include Shift at Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna, 2019, On the Cusp at Stal Gallery, Muscat, 2018 and Becoming Landscape at Krinzinger Projekte, Vienna, 2017. Selected group exhibitions include Searching for Stars Amongst the Crescents at Experimenter, Kolkata, 2019, The Drawing Biennial at Drawing Room, London, 2019 and the 6th Marrakech Biennale, Not New Now, Marrakech, 2016. The artist lives and works between Muscat and London.
For the second interview as a part of Open Space’s 10 Minute Interviews series Huma Kabakcı invited Radhika Khimji to discuss her work, influences, challenges and more.
It is a pleasure to include you in this new interview series. Over the years, how has your practice evolved based on where you come from and where you are living now?
Moving has given me another viewpoint to question how we stereotype and quickly place cultural labels on people. This speedy categorisation has always made me feel claustrophobic, and led me to make work which isn’t easily defined. I have found a playful process that slips in and out of recognition, turning images and definitions inside out by pulling them apart and stitching them back up again, a method akin to collage. I came to the UK to study art in University, so I was on a learning arc when I arrived. My practice evolved naturally, and was formed negotiating the different exchanges between contexts.
How would you describe your work and your artistic interests?
I would describe my work as process based. I like building up images layer by layer so they become dense. Paintings which feel like objects, drawings rendered to become sculptures. I feel most excited when a work is pushed beyond the limit of its own materiality. I am attracted to the physicality in an artwork, where the presence is made up by an architectural spatial relationship -where the body’s relationship to space is defined and blurred.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Trusting my first impulse. When I’m working on something or installing a project I usually have an immediate intuitive response to the place or paper or panel, a direct response that maps out the drawing or space in my mind. Instead of going ahead with these ideas, I usually end up spending a lot of time second guessing, trying different variations, very often only to come back to the first idea. Perhaps it’s my process but I find it really unnecessary and exhausting.
What influenced your practice?
The body, movement, landscape. I am influenced by construction sites, and spaces that are in the process of being made. They feel like internal landscapes that often relate to my research into child psychology and hypnosis as the space opens up and breaks down how things are built up. These in-between spaces become metaphors for how identity could be a manufactured kaleidoscope of external and internal factors.
What does diversity mean to you?
Choice, the ability to freely choose, and be yourself without being questioned or judged from outside and within. Perhaps that’s a naïve idea…
If you could collaborate with anyone living or deceased, who would it be?
Merce Cunningham, his collaborations with Rauchenberg have always inspired me. I would love to work on a performance with him. That’s a dream. The Trisha Brown Dance Company (TBDC) is another collaboration I would love to have. I saw them perform in Kassel a few years ago,where there was a grid-like clothes line with many different clothes hanging off it in the middle of the room, and dancers crawled along the grid and got into these hanging clothes, making different shapes in the air. They would then get up and move to other clothes. This work really resonated with me.
What do you love to do in your free time?
I love to walk aimlessly for hours when I can. So many ideas fall into place when you walk.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on a series of panels combining references to the body within images taken from sites under construction. They’re kind of surreal psychological landscapes.