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P·P·O·W is pleased to present We Wait Until Dark, Sanam Khatibi’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. Featuring a new series of monumental figurative works, large scale still lives, and intimate memento mori paintings, this exhibition epitomizes and expands upon the unique atemporal and allegorical vocabulary Khatibi has developed over the last decade.

Sanam Khatibi - We Wait Until Dark - Exhibitions - PPOW

Sanam Khatibi
At Low Tide, 2023
oil and pencil on canvas
94 1/2 x 74 3/4 ins.
240 x 190 cm

People who devote their lives to art can often cite an event that placed them on their destined path. Among the earliest memories Belgian artist Sanam Khatibi recalls is the day she discovered a book on Hieronymous Bosch left out on the table by her mother. She was five. That one might advance from consuming the rapturous reproductions of The Garden of Earthly Delights at such a young age to painting expansive, primal scenes of a troubled Paradise is one excellent example of artistic "fate."

Sanam Khatibi - We Wait Until Dark - Exhibitions - PPOW

Sanam Khatibi
Then I became so human that I grew delicate, 2023
oil on panel
5 7/8 x 7 7/8 ins.
15 x 20 cm

In Khatibi's paintings and sculptures, the veil between desire and restraint, life and death, and the natural and spirit worlds proves thin. Again and again, the artist returns to t­he figure of a nude goddess navigating a verdant, savage land beyond the protective scrim of "civilization." In the absence of technology, politics, bills, e-mail, and even clothing, she exhibits her most feral qualities for survival: devouring, eating, attacking, killing, and hunting. Khatibi's subjects are perennial (desire, seduction, domination, submission), and her references to allegorical forms are extensive (17th-century Dutch still life vanitas, the motif of Death and the Maiden, antiquarian amulets, and anthropological relics), all channeled into displays of human folly and erotic obsession.

Sanam Khatibi - We Wait Until Dark - Exhibitions - PPOW

Sanam Khatibi
Where our love once lay, a dark and tortured jungle grew, 2023
oil and pencil on canvas
82 5/8 x 98 3/8 ins.
210 x 250 cm

Paintings by Khatibi are full of expressions of voracity: for sex, earthly delights, experience, and transcendence, and what happens when you tempt the devil. In Where our love once lay, a dark and tortured jungle grew (2023), a fey skeleton seizes a beautiful maiden by the hair under a lightening blue sky –– a grotesque quid pro quo that recalls Lucas Cranach the Elders' The Ill-Matched Couple (1553); or even Kawanabe Kyōsai's Hell Courtesan (1831–1889). Decrepit and aging, his skull sprouts strawlike strands of hair, the last indication of vitality. In Open Season (2024), an Amazonian goddess places an intimate offering of amulets and animal sacrifices before a pool of water. There is a sense of reckless abandon: a human skull, a pomegranate cracked open, blood spilling over the cerulean earth––a feast for ravenous souls.

Sanam Khatibi - We Wait Until Dark - Exhibitions - PPOW

Sanam Khatibi
A beautiful figure without a tongue, 2024
oil and pencil on canvas
90 1/2 x 70 7/8 ins.
230 x 180 cm

Khatibi's Eden is repeatedly transformed into a Bosch-like tale of passionate, potentially fatal encounters (a locus amoenus turned upside down into a "locus terribilis"). In A beautiful figure without a tongue (2024), the skeletal personification of Death reappears. A maniacal grin spreads across his decaying face as he slinks away, clutching an ornate vase to his chest. Are these the spoils of Death to be hoarded in a cavernous underworld?

Sanam Khatibi - We Wait Until Dark - Exhibitions - PPOW

Sanam Khatibi
Overnight Black Aphids Appeared, growing on the tips of the Sophora Sun King, 2023
oil on canvas
55 1/8 x 70 7/8 ins.
140 x 180 cm

Throughout the exhibition, Khatibi faithfully intertwines two genres of painting (figurative landscape and still life), leaving seemingly ancillary details from one scene to reveal as sharp memento mori in another––as in Overnight Black Aphids Appeared, growing on the tips of the Sophora Sun King (2023). Here, the reappearance of skulls, amulets, and small creatures sans personnages gives the impression of a romantic sojourn set apart from the larger narrative. Each of Khatibi's objects pulses into realism with near-scientific observation, appearing magnificent and fragile, possibly even forbidden. Placed against a velvety black ground, they fall into shadow as if pulled amorously into the afterlife.

––Lola Kramer

Sanam Khatibi lives and works in Paris, France. She has presented solo exhibitions at Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, Brazil; the Groeningemuseum, Bruges, Belgium; rodolphe janssen, Brussels, Belgium; Kunsthal Gent, Gent, Belgium; and P·P·O·W, New York, NY, among others. She has also been included in Paradise, the Kortrijk Triennial, in 2021 and The Seventh Continent, the 16th Istanbul Biennial, curated by Nicholas Bourriaud in 2019. Her work has been featured in group exhibitions at  Centraal Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands; the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece; S.M.A.K, Gent, Brussels; UTA Artist Space, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium; Centre Régional d’Art Contemporain Occitane, Sète, France; Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY; Musée d’Art Contemporain, Marseille, France; and Museum of Deinze, Deinze, Belgium, among others. 

Exhibited Works

Exhibited Works Thumbnails
Sanam Khatibi
At Low Tide, 2023
oil and pencil on canvas
90 1/2 x 70 7/8 ins.
230 x 180 cm

Sanam Khatibi
At Low Tide, 2023
oil and pencil on canvas
90 1/2 x 70 7/8 ins.
230 x 180 cm

Sanam Khatibi
Where our love once lay, a dark and tortured jungle grew, 2023
oil and pencil on canvas
82 5/8 x 98 3/8 ins.
210 x 250 cm

Sanam Khatibi
Where our love once lay, a dark and tortured jungle grew, 2023
oil and pencil on canvas
82 5/8 x 98 3/8 ins.
210 x 250 cm

Sanam Khatibi
A beautiful figure without a tongue, 2024
oil and pencil on canvas
90 1/2 x 70 7/8 ins.
230 x 180 cm

Sanam Khatibi
A beautiful figure without a tongue, 2024
oil and pencil on canvas
90 1/2 x 70 7/8 ins.
230 x 180 cm

Sanam Khatibi
You Always Promise the World, 2024
oil on panel
24 x 20 1/8 ins.
61 x 51 cm

Sanam Khatibi
You Always Promise the World, 2024
oil on panel
24 x 20 1/8 ins.
61 x 51 cm

Sanam Khatibi
Then I became so human that I grew delicate, 2023
oil on panel
5 7/8 x 7 7/8 ins.
15 x 20 cm

Sanam Khatibi
Then I became so human that I grew delicate, 2023
oil on panel
5 7/8 x 7 7/8 ins.
15 x 20 cm

Sanam Khatibi
We long for Spring here, 2024
oil on panel
7 7/8 x 5 7/8 ins.
20 x 15 cm

Sanam Khatibi
We long for Spring here, 2024
oil on panel
7 7/8 x 5 7/8 ins.
20 x 15 cm

Sanam Khatibi
At Low Tide, 2023
oil and pencil on canvas
90 1/2 x 70 7/8 ins.
230 x 180 cm

Sanam Khatibi
At Low Tide, 2023
oil and pencil on canvas
90 1/2 x 70 7/8 ins.
230 x 180 cm

Sanam Khatibi
Where our love once lay, a dark and tortured jungle grew, 2023
oil and pencil on canvas
82 5/8 x 98 3/8 ins.
210 x 250 cm

Sanam Khatibi
Where our love once lay, a dark and tortured jungle grew, 2023
oil and pencil on canvas
82 5/8 x 98 3/8 ins.
210 x 250 cm

Sanam Khatibi
A beautiful figure without a tongue, 2024
oil and pencil on canvas
90 1/2 x 70 7/8 ins.
230 x 180 cm

Sanam Khatibi
A beautiful figure without a tongue, 2024
oil and pencil on canvas
90 1/2 x 70 7/8 ins.
230 x 180 cm

Sanam Khatibi
You Always Promise the World, 2024
oil on panel
24 x 20 1/8 ins.
61 x 51 cm

Sanam Khatibi
You Always Promise the World, 2024
oil on panel
24 x 20 1/8 ins.
61 x 51 cm

Sanam Khatibi
Then I became so human that I grew delicate, 2023
oil on panel
5 7/8 x 7 7/8 ins.
15 x 20 cm

Sanam Khatibi
Then I became so human that I grew delicate, 2023
oil on panel
5 7/8 x 7 7/8 ins.
15 x 20 cm

Sanam Khatibi
We long for Spring here, 2024
oil on panel
7 7/8 x 5 7/8 ins.
20 x 15 cm

Sanam Khatibi
We long for Spring here, 2024
oil on panel
7 7/8 x 5 7/8 ins.
20 x 15 cm

Installation Views

Installation Views Thumbnails
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