The Showroom

Communal Knowledge: Navine G. Khan-Dossos



During 2018 Athens based artist Navine G. Khan-Dossos will work with the Communal Knowledge programme at The Showroom and Imperial Health Charity on a new collaborative commission with St Mary’s Hospital Paediatric Services, Paddington.

Navine G. Khan-Dossos (b. 1982, London) is a visual artist working between London and Athens. Her interests include Orientalism in the digital realm, geometry as information and decoration, image calibration, and Aniconism in contemporary culture.

She has developed a form of geometric abstraction that merges the traditional Aniconism of Islamic art with the algorithmic nature of the interconnected world we live in. This is not the formal abstraction we understand from the western history of art, but something essentially informational, and committed to investigation and communication. Khan-Dossos is a painter, and uses this medium and its history to ask fundamental questions about the ways in which we see, understand, and, crucially, represent the world around us. Her work suggests that contrary to the mediatic impulses of the present, we must not rely upon, nor constantly reproduce, the figurative language of television, online media, videos, and the endlessly circulating images which shape our shared imagination of reality. Rather, she is invested in the discovery of a new language which better reflects the patterns and connections that underlie these images and their related experiences.

Her work often responds to a sense of place, and increasingly takes the form of murals and site-specific installations. In Athens, this has manifested as room-size installations at the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art animating the city’s complex history and identity between East and West (‘Imagine a Palm Tree’, 2016), and at the Victoria Square Project social space, where ‘Freedom and Equality, or Death’ (2017) proposes a new national flag. Also in 2017, the vast outdoor mural ‘Echo Chamber’ in Eindhoven reflected on the depiction of European converts to radical Islam, while ‘A Year Without Movement’, a series of paintings on the walls of London’s historical House of Saint Barnabas exposed the connections between representation, standardization, and control.

Duration, interaction and communication form key contours of her work, whether painting in public and in dialogue with audiences in institutions over many weeks (‘My TV Ain’t HD, That’s Too Real’, Witte de With, 2015), undertaking multi-day performances of continual painting (‘Capacity’, Athens Art Fair, 2017), or producing extensive series of work influenced by news stories and current events over months (‘Converts’, Van Eyck Academie, 2015). Her work frequently emphasizes the contrast between the timeless and the ephemeral, whether in the painting over of temporary murals, her own effacement of underlying works in ongoing series where each iteration is applied over the last, or her choices of material, from traditional icon boards to cardboard and found wood, and the balancing of classical training and technique with a constant reappraisal and critique of the contemporary.

Khan-Dossos studied History of Art at Cambridge University, Arabic at Kuwait University, Islamic Art at the Prince’s School of Traditional Art in London, and holds an MA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art & Design, London. In 2014/2015, she was a participant at the Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht (NL). She has exhibited and worked with various institutions, including The Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven) The Museum of Islamic Art (Doha), Witte de With (Rotterdam), The Delfina Foundation (London), The Library of Amiens (Amiens), Leighton House Museum (London), The Benaki Museum of Islamic Art (Athens) and the A.M. Qattan Foundation (Ramallah). She has published work in The White Review and The Happy Hypocrite.

She is currently a tutor on the MA program at the Dutch Art Institute (Arnhem).

Communal Knowledge is generously supported by John Lyon’s Charity

Imperial Health Charity is the main charity supporting the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, helping the Trust do more through grants, arts, volunteering and fundraising. The charity manages a museum accredited collection with three temporary exhibition spaces. The charity also runs a growing participatory arts programme offering patients the opportunity to engage with art during their treatment. The programme focuses on using art as a medium to aid the healing process, improving patient care and offering distraction in an often distressing environment.