MoMA PS1 presents the first solo museum exhibition of Huma Bhabha (Pakistani, b. 1962), comprising nearly 30 sculptures and more than a dozen drawings, including many newly created works on view for the first time.
The sculptures and drawings of Huma Bhabha elaborate the ancient traditions of figuration and landscape, considering our place in an unstable world. Bhabha extends the lineage of postwar figural sculpture, which struggled to make sense of modern trauma, but also reaches back in time, typifying a strand of neo-primitivism that has arisen in the past decade. Insistently contemporary, her work nevertheless brings to mind art created across a range of cultures and historical periods.
Formally recalling the arrested poses of Greek kouroi and Egyptian pharonic statues, Bhabha’s sculptures evoke antique hybridized cultures like that of ancient Gandhara, in today’s northern Pakistan, which comingled Greek and Buddhist archetypes. Like such antecedents, her statues may appear bound to a distant past, while also seeming to arrive from the decaying ruins of some future civilization. They often suggest the robots and aliens of science fiction films and the monsters of Gothic literature, at once foreign and familiar.
Assembled but also carved, painted, and drawn upon, Bhabha’s sculptures combine long-standing methods and materials used to represent the human form with those more common in recent art history. She integrates industrial debris like Styrofoam, rubber, and wire mesh with organic materials such as clay, scavenged wood, and bones. Bhabha once worked for a taxidermist, and her masks and effigies are inflected by this experience of turning animal remains into hollow totems that celebrate human dominance over nature. Her spare and resourceful bricolage is inspired by the makeshift dwellings constructed from scavenged materials that the artist encountered around her native Karachi, whose landscape features prominently in her work.
Huma Bhabha (Pakistani, b. Karachi, Pakistan, 1962) lives and works in Poughkeepsie, NY. Having exhibited her work since the early ‘90’s she was recently included in the 2012 Paris Triennial at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France and in the 2010 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City.
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center Website