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b. 1962, Pakistan

Huma Bhabha Biography

New York-based Pakistani artist Huma Bhabha combines figuration with abstract elements in sculpture, works on paper, and collages. With a distinct post-apocalyptic aesthetic and dark theatricality reflecting sci-fi films, her artworks explore colonialism, war, trauma, and displacement. The artist lives and works out of Poughkeepsie, New York.

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Bhabha's sculptures—the core of her practice—are jarring assemblages comprised of carved Styrofoam, cork, air-dried clay, wire, found wood, metal scrap, and other discarded materials. She combines these to create monstrous abstracted figures, referencing imagery that ranges from ancient architecture and cultural traditions to popular science fiction. Figures such as Centaur (2000), which merges ancient mythological imagery with modern hooded youth, seem to appear from a distant place where past and present collide. Painted monolithic, multi-headed creatures—like Four Nights of a Dreamer (2018)—make less obvious reference to the materials they are made from than her earlier works. Through her dark, grotesque, and abstract alien-like figures, the artist challenges the viewer's perception of objects and people beyond our immediate realm of understanding—whether in a colonial past or today.

Some, but not all, of Bhabha's sculptures remain in a fragile form, consisting of degradable materials. The two large works in We Come in Peace—the Roof Garden Commission for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 2018—are bronzes painted to appear as if they were made from the original pre-casting materials. The prostrate figure, Benaam (2018), appears to be made of clay and plastic, implying a fragility while also withstanding the ages.

While Bhabha paints her sculptures—often in colours one might expect from graffiti—she also produces similarly hued works on paper. The artist also makes collages by working on photographs taken by herself. She draws and paints expressively over the image, creating unusual abstract yet figurative compositions, like the alien face in Untitled (2019). This aspect of her practice has developed since the mid-2000s, with the added layers becoming thicker and more elaborate.

Born in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1962 Bhabha came to the United States in 1981 to study art, graduating with a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, in 1985, and followed by an MFA at Columbia University, New York, in 1989. Her artwork has appeared in solo and group exhibitions across the United States and Europe. She has been included in biennials such as the Biennale Internazionale di Scultura di Carrara (2010), the Whitney Biennial in New York (2010), and the Venice Biennale (2015). Since 2013, her works have been shown at Art Basel on multiple occasions. Her art also features in prominent public collections such as those of the Centre Pompidou, Tate, and New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Ocula | 2019

Huma Bhabha Featured Artworks

Third Voice by Huma Bhabha contemporary artwork
Huma BhabhaThird Voice, 2019Cork, Styrofoam, acrylic, oil stick, wood, and Masonite
244.5 x 61 x 91.4 cm
David Kordansky Gallery Enquire about this work
Untitled by Huma Bhabha contemporary artwork
Huma BhabhaUntitled, 2019Ink, acrylic paint, and oil stick on colour photo
203.2 x 127 cm
David Kordansky Gallery Enquire about this work
Untitled by Huma Bhabha contemporary artwork
Huma BhabhaUntitled, 2019Ink, pastel, acrylic, and collage on paper
77.5 x 55.9 cm
David Kordansky Gallery Enquire about this work
Untitled by Huma Bhabha contemporary artwork
Huma BhabhaUntitled, 2019Ink, acrylic paint, and oil stick on colour photo
203.2 x 127 cm
David Kordansky Gallery Enquire about this work
Friend by Huma Bhabha contemporary artwork
Huma BhabhaFriend, 2015Painted bronze
212.7 x 94.6 x 14.6 cm
David Kordansky Gallery Enquire about this work
Four Nights of a Dreamer by Huma Bhabha contemporary artwork
Huma BhabhaFour Nights of a Dreamer, 2018Cork, Styrofoam, acrylic, oil stick, with lacquered wood pedestal
189.2 x 91.4 x 91.4 cm
David Kordansky Gallery Enquire about this work

Huma Bhabha Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Huma Bhabha, Huma Bhabha at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles
Closed
25 January–14 March 2020 Huma Bhabha David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles
Contemporary art exhibition, Huma Bhabha, The Company at Gagosian, Rome
Closed
19 September 2019–4 January 2020 Huma Bhabha The Company Gagosian, Rome
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Taurus and the Awakener at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles
Closed
21 July–25 August 2018 Group Exhibition Taurus and the Awakener David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles

Huma Bhabha Represented By

Huma Bhabha In Ocula Magazine

Frieze Los Angeles: Shows to See Ocula Report Frieze Los Angeles: Shows to See By Tessa Moldan, Los Angeles

Los Angeles' art scene has a lot to offer during Frieze Los Angeles, with galleries, non-profits, and museums gearing up for the fair's second edition between 14 and 17 February 2020. In this Ocula Lowdown, Tessa Moldan lists a selection of the city's must-see shows.

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Asia Contemporary Art Week: Diary #2: 14–23 September 2018 Ocula Insight
In collaboration with Asia Contemporary Art Week
Asia Contemporary Art Week: Diary #2: 14–23 September 2018 By Sophia McKinnon

Closing out the first week and ushering in the second of Asia Contemporary Art Week 's season-long programme of Asia-focused activities throughout New York City were 'Writing the Indian Modern', and 'Collecting the Indian Modern' at Asia Society. The panels were hosted in conjunction with their new exhibition The Progressive Revolution: Modern...

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New York Autumn Exhibitions: The Lowdown Ocula Report New York Autumn Exhibitions: The Lowdown By Jareh Das, New York

The autumn exhibition season has officially kicked off in New York, with countless solo and group exhibitions featuring emerging, mid-career, and established artists, with some exhibiting works in the US for the first time. With a host of exhibitions to choose from, including a series of stellar museum exhibitions whose runs are nearing...

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Huma Bhabha In Related Press

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Work in Progress: Huma Bhaba Related Press Work in Progress: Huma Bhaba 27 November 2019, Gagosian Quarterly

Benaam, 'without name,' was always for me a monument to the unnamed victims of ongoing conflict. The black covering is literally a plastic bag covering a body that has expired. The hands stretching out from under the plastic signal a last movement, as does the refuse or tail of rubble—a final expulsion. We Come in Peace, which is also the title...

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Invasion of the Styrofoam monster: the sculpture startling shoppers in Wakefield Related Press Invasion of the Styrofoam monster: the sculpture startling shoppers in Wakefield 19 July 2019, The Guardian

She has commanded the rooftop of New York's Metropolitan Museum, and has exported her distressed sculptures around the world, but only now is the UK waking up to the work of Huma Bhabha. It's not the first time she has been late to the party. 'It took me a long time to get any recognition at all,' says the artist, who was into her 40s before she...

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Preview Art Basel 2019 Related Press Preview Art Basel 2019 7 June 2019, ARTnews

Art Basel 2019 opens to the public on Thursday, June 13, with two preview days, on June 11 and 12. Some 290 galleries from 34 countries will show work at the Swiss fair, which runs through June 16.

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Huma Bhabha at Institute of Contemporary Art Related Press Huma Bhabha at Institute of Contemporary Art 1 June 2019, Art in America

A cast bronze sculpture of a commanding figure enthroned like an Egyptian pharaoh greeted visitors to Huma Bhabha's midcareer survey, They Live. The figure's body—originally modeled in chicken wire, polystyrene foam packing blocks, and wood—had a damaged, incomplete look to it, while the bronze gave it an aura of enduring power.

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Huma Bhabha In Video & Audio

Huma Bhabha's Monumental Bronze | The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston Related Video & Audio Huma Bhabha's Monumental Bronze | The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston 8 April 2019, ICA Boston

See how artist Huma Bhabha created the monumental and surprising bronze sculpture Benaam, on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston March 23 – May 27, 2019, and featured on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2018. Benaam is part of the exhibition Huma Bhabha: They Live, the largest survey of the artist's work to date.

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Huma Bhabha’s "We Come in Peace," Contemporary Art | Met Exhibitions Related Video & Audio Huma Bhabha’s "We Come in Peace," Contemporary Art | Met Exhibitions 17 April 2018, The Met

In this video, artist Huma Bhabha and curator Shanay Jhaveri discuss her sculpture We Come in Peace, the 2018 site-specific installation for The Met's Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, the sixth in a series of commissions for the outdoor space. Bhabha's work addresses themes of colonialism, war, displacement, and memories of place. Using...

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