Baring her soul through art
KARACHI: Some art pieces can be disturbing. If you look at them, you can actually visualize the amount of suffering another human being has gone through, as portrayed through their depiction. It is certainly a reflection of the soul, a sensitive soul, which captures a kind of pain one can never really ascertain.
Huma Bhabha’s work reflects the same spirit.
Look at an untitled piece made in 2006, it shows a figure prostrating in a submissive manner, the materials used include clay, wire, plastic and some paint. In yet another, Bumps in the road, she talks of driving over bodies in Iraq.
It takes guts to capture this, and it takes even more to bring it to the floor of an American Museum like MOMA, in NYC. The Big Apple is where she currently resides.
Bhabha showcased her work and gave a talk at the Koel Art Gallery last week, in which she observed that, “Each of my pieces are views on a different note, you need to walk past them to see what this is all about…for these are walking monuments.”
Yet somehow, these same disturbing pieces can be a work of a “romantic at heart, as these can be described as beautiful,” asserted Bhabha.
“Modeling clay has been a richer experience,” Bhabha said, about her love affair with clay which began after she travelled to Mexico a few years ago. She added she has found inspiration in her work by watching movies like the 1979’s Stalker.
An Expressionist to the core, besides sculptures, Bhabha has done some pastels in ink, too. Yet again however, the images were dark and dull, and there was nothing bright about them.
Speaking to The Express Tribune after the talk, when asked when her love for clay began, she said, “When I realised that I was actually good at modeling clay is when I incorporated it into my work as another material. The combination of materials such as wood, clay and Styrofoam was very attractive and something I had not seen before.”
Why do most of her structures portray society in political upheaval and turmoil? Bhabha said, “I am interested and try to be aware of what is happening all over the world…there is little one can do, but I feel as an artist at least, you can bear witness to what is happening in your time. My work has been described as ‘monuments to human life reclaimed from the detritus of a post-apocalyptic landscape.’”
About taking inspiration from Hollywood movies, she said, “I think all art forms are related or can be inspirational and influential and the more informed one is then the more its influence seeps into work. The result is not always obvious or apparent but layered into the work making it more complex.”
About using other mediums she said, “I make drawings with ink and collage on photographs that I take myself, and I make drawings with ink, pastel and collage on paper. I also use photography as another medium in my practice to document my sculpture in different landscapes, giving them a cinematic setting and an implied narrative.”
About drawing comparisons between Karachi, her former abode and NYC, she is of the opinion that, “The art world in Karachi is much smaller than the art world in New York City, which is probably bigger than any other city and has the most enthusiasm for art that I have ever experienced. New York attracts artists from all over the world and students graduating from art schools within the US; it has the largest concentration of galleries and museums showing contemporary art and collectors of contemporary art.”