Review: Artist Toba Khedoori’s new work whispers for a closer look

Toba Khedoori, "Untitled (grid)," 2015, oil on canvas, 37-by-37 inches.

Toba Khedoori, “Untitled (grid),” 2015, oil on canvas, 37-by-37 inches.

(Fredrik Nilsen / Regen Projects)

Toba Khedoori burst onto the scene 20 years ago with small drawings on gigantic sheets of paper. Her realistic depictions of interiors and exteriors seemed to say: “Come in for a close look, and don’t forget to block out all of the distractions that might prevent you from focusing.”

At Regen Projects, the L.A. artist’s fourth solo hometown show features much smaller works: domestically scaled graphite drawings and oils on canvas and linen. What Khedoori’s works give up in size they get back in intensity, not to mention self-assuredness, maturity, pragmatism and generosity.

Some turn the structure of her early works inside out. Rather than presenting viewers with an image surrounded by a vast expanse of wax-coated emptiness, Khedoori puts emptiness front and center.

Two pieces depict walls into which holes appear to have been punched. The compositions of two others are interrupted by what appears to be the glare from a camera’s flash. Bright light forms a blind spot in all four, creating a glitch in vision that makes you look more attentively.


The remaining works divide evenly between abstraction and representation: grids and pictures. A human hand shows up in three nearly square paintings, its delicacy eliciting both desire and devotion. Gorgeously illuminated leaves fill the foreground of Khedoori’s most complex composition. Its icy white background amps up the otherworldly lusciousness of the leaves.

Similarly, the abstract compositions slow time to a crawl. Space comes out of nowhere to make room for all sorts of experiences. Attentiveness — and how we value it — is Khedoori’s great subject. Like Vija Celmins, she makes the mundane magnificent.

Regen Projects, 6750 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 276-5424, through Feb. 13. Closed Sundays and Mondays.