New York-based artist Huma Bhabha creates work that addresses universal themes of colonialism, war, displacement, and memories of place. Using found materials and the detritus of everyday life, Bhabha creates haunting figures that hover between figuration and abstraction, the monumental and the abject. Bhabha is known for her engagement with the human form and for her use of found objects. Her materials include Styrofoam, scavenged wood, found metal parts, chicken wire, cork, and air-dried clay, which she forms into complex assemblages, sometimes transforming them into bronze.
While her language is distinctly her own, Bhabha recalls classical figurative traditions across a range of cultures and historical periods, including references to Greek kouroi, Ghandharan Buddhas, and Egyptian pharaohs, typifying a strand of neoprimitivism that has arisen in the past decade. At the same time, her work remains insistently contemporary, looking to Alberto Giacometti, Robert Rauschenberg, and Anselm Kiefer as influences as well as television, sci-fi films, and popular novels. Often tending toward the grotesque, Bhabha’s sculptural works and photo-based drawings feature bodies that appear dissected and dismembered; but one can likewise view them as monuments to human life reclaimed from the detritus of a postapocalyptic landscape.
Bhabha’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, including MoMA PS1, New York; Aspen Art Museum; 56th Venice Biennale; International Center of Photography Triennial, New York; La Triennale, Palais de Tokyo, Paris; 2010 Whitney Biennial, New York; 7th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea; and the Royal Academy of Arts, London. She was the 2013 recipient of the Berlin Prize, Guna S. Mundheim Fellowship in the Visual Arts, American Academy in Berlin, and received the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum Emerging Artist Award in 2008. Bhabha is represented in many major museum collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia, among others.
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency