Huma Bhabha’s Heroic Hybridities at Stephen Friedman Gallery

Huma Bhabha at Stephen Friedman Gallery
(Courtesy Stephen Friedman Gallery)

London’s Stephen Friedman Gallery is presenting its second solo exhibition by Huma Bhabha until January 28, 2017. The Pakistan born, US-based artist is showing a new body of work comprising three new carved cork sculptures, a new clay mixed and mixed media sculpture, as well as large-scale drawings with collage on photographs.

Bhabha is perhaps best known for her composite figurative sculptures made using a variety of industrial and organic materials such as wood, clay, cork, and styrofoam, but she also works in drawing and collage. Her exhibition expands on her continuing exploration of figuration and develops her ongoing engagement with the theme of the passing of time.

Drawing inspiration from a diversity of social, cultural, and art historical sources — including the scenery of her birthplace of Karachi and her hometown of New York, cinematography, antiquity, and contemporary and historical sculptural traditions — Bhabha explores a range of themes. These include ruin, displacement, war, memories of home, and the human condition.

Within a practice that bridges the figurative and the abstract, the high and the low, the ancient and the modern, and Eastern and Western, Bhabha creates wonderfully expressive and raw articulations of both self and the other – what she calls “landscapes of human debris.” To find out more about her exhibition and practice, BLOUIN ARTINFO got in touch with the artist and asked her a few questions.

What was the inspiration behind the new body of work in your exhibition at Stephen Friedman Gallery?

I am continuing to pursue my long standing interest in exploring figurative/expressive sculpture in multiple materials, and the scale and choice of work was influenced by the space they are being shown in.

What are the processes and actions that you used when creating the works in the exhibition and what is the significance and meaning of these processes?

I start out with specific materials and then they evolve as I work on them, in hopefully unexpected ways.

How do the works in the exhibition reflect and express the main themes, preoccupations, and sources of inspiration that form the basis of your practice?

The works all reflect the inspiration I draw from art history, cinema, and the current state of endless war in many parts of the world.

What do you want to express and convey with the works in the exhibition?

That beauty can take many unexpected forms.

In what ways does your cultural background and heritage inform and impact your practice?

Obviously where I come from will always be part of what I do as an artist, but that is not something I am interested in highlighting or exploiting. To paraphrase Virginia Woolf, I am an artist first, before I am anything else.