Huma Bhabha’s new body of work is currently on view at both Lower East Side locations of Salon 94, showing the Pakistani-born and New York-based artist resuming her sculpture focused multi-media practice, pulling from vast inspirational sources, with her third exhibition at the gallery. Spanning over centuries, religions, cultures and disciplines; Bhabha’s influences generate works of art that are hybrids of various methodologies. Not dictated by historical or cultural hierarchy, threads Bhabha weaves into her practice articulate on set modes of history writing, problematizing its embedded dynamics. Dystopian or utopian depending on viewers’ perception, Bhabha’s assemblies – most notably her robust sculptures – revoke remnants of a somber future that draws nourishment from its past.
Descending the gallery stairs at the Bowery location, one is drawn into an apocalyptic environment dominated by two sculptures that hold traces of Bhabha’s signature tone. These bronze works pose in an effort to distance themselves from each other, yet still fall into a peculiar harmony through their contrasting presences. Painted in gleaming black, Constantium, a life size totemic figure, stands between figuration and abstraction with its piercing eyes and limbs, yet its geometric and hefty form complicates any deliberate resemblance to am easily perceived human visage.
Opposing its counterpart with its beaming white hue is Friend, a rectangularly-shaped, enduring formation adorned with graffiti that has a faint resemblance to a human face or a skull. Furthering the dominant, bleakly post-industrial atmosphere is The Escapist, a patinated bronze piece, dormant on the floor, twirled akin to a serpent or to a manufactural waste. Dreadful yet serene, this amorphous series of recreated tire-treads presents a creeping, reptilian nature as much as that of an archaeological relic, waiting for discovery.
The selection at Salon 94 Freemans emphasizes Bhabha’s collagist side, presenting nine large-scale, mixed-media collages. Psychedelic, kaleidoscopic and undeniably subliminal, the compositions of ink, pastel and found paper consolidate strongly idiosyncratic juxtapositions that mostly point themselves back to traditional portraiture. Head forms, either of humans or animals, repeat in a variety of shapes and colors, enhanced by Bhabha’s ink and pastel touches, while hinting at repetitious hand gestures by the artist.
Huma Bhabha is on view at Salon 94 Bowery and Salon 94 Freemans through June 28, 2015.
*All images are by Osman Can Yerebakan for Art Observed.
— O.C. Yerebakan
Salon 94 [Exhibition Page]