On view February 25, 2023 through February 11, 2024
As part of its ongoing exhibition series exploring the intersection of art and fashion, the Tampa Museum of Art presents a series of paintings by globally renowned fashion designer Naeem Khan. Khan works independently, as well collaboratively with artist Stanley Casselman as the collective KACE, to create large-scale works inspired by his ongoing exploration of flora, light, and color. Five monumental works, comprised of paint and sequins represent Khan’s inaugural museum exhibition.
The Khan Family, steeped in the tradition of fashion and textiles for over 100 years, is renowned for their atelier in Mumbai and their luxurious couture worn by luminaries and India’s royalty. Khan arrived in New York at the age of 17, travelling to the United States with his father. A business appointment with Halston changed the course of his life as the famed designer decided on the spot that Khan would be his protégé. With Halston as his mentor, Khan became immersed in Manhattan’s art and social circles. From the atelier to Studio 54 and Andy Warhol’s Factory, Khan emerged as a designer at a pivotal moment in the 1970s where the lines between art, fashion, music, film, and celebrity were often blurred, further signifying New York City as the epicenter of creativity.
While working with Halston, Khan met Andy Warhol who frequently collaborated with Halston on his projects. Khan participated in their collaborations by drawing the flowers for their designs, specifically poppies. Warhol, like Halston, took Khan under his wing and once told the young designer, “You shouldn’t hold your pencil that way. Let me show you how to draw.” Flowers, inspired by his work and friendship with Warhol as well as the flora in his home country of India, anchor Khan’s visual language.
In 2020, painter Stanley Casselman introduced himself to Khan at one of his fashion shows and was immediately struck by the beauty and power of the designer’s work. Casselman observed that Khan’s designs could be translated into painting. Conversations lead to collaboration and today the two artists work both individually and together under the name KACE. Works, such as Jardin Chrome and Jardin d’Or, feature Khan’s elaborate sequined blooms in concert with Casselman’s gestural paint strokes. The compositions reveal the signature elements of each artists’ practice. Here, Khan’s ornate craftsmanship and Casselman’s abstract mark making unite in dazzling effect.
Khan’s solo works, Floating Flowers Pink and Silver and Floating Flowers Fuchsia and Gold, nod to his familial history with fabric, color, composition, and texture while pushing the boundaries of contemporary painting. Each flower is comprised of hundreds of sequins and beads. Delicately sewn onto silkscreen material, Khan suspends the panels one over the other, creating a sculptural quality to the paintings. Fabricated in a range of petal formations and size, Khan’s blossoms both capture and reflect light. As if suspended in space, the flowers come to life, symbolizing Khan’s creative past and his burgeoning artistic future.
Fleurish: The Art of Naeem Khan is presented in conjunction with the Tampa Museum of Art’s annual fundraiser CITY: Fashion + Art + Culture.