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Exhibition: Study #16. What is Love, Huma Bhabha (20 Jan – 8 Apr 2017)

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Opening Reception: Thurs 19 Jan 2017, 6.30–9pm

Study #16 looks in depth at the sculpture What is Love, 2013, by New York-based Pakistani artist Huma Bhabha (b. 1962, Karachi, Pakistan) from the David Roberts Collection. The work comprises a figure made of cork and green polystyrene and carved in the round. The head and body are painted and drawn over with acrylic paint, oil stick and lipstick. The figure is carved in shallow relief, with elongated breasts, torso, arms, fingers and legs. Drawing from diverse ancient and contemporary sources – from science-fiction to Picasso to African tribal sculpture – Bhabha’s totemic figure is universal rather than illustrative.

Additional selected works by Bhabha are presented alongside What is Love. Untitled, 2013, is a collage made at the same time as the sculpture, during a residency at the American Academy in Berlin. A skeletal head is vigorously painted on top of photograph taken by Bhabha of a local derelict site in the city. Bhabha has used this technique since 2006, absorbing different environments into her works and reworking them with her expressionless abstracted faces. A series of nine C-print photographs Untitled (2009) is similarly composed, this time using images of Bhabha’s native Karachi landscape, again drawn over with a series of anonymous monochrome heads. Finally, a second totemic sculpture from 2016 is loaned for the exhibition. Once is a slim black marble and Styrofoam pilaster body, with a crumpled clay face veiled with wire gauze.

A new text by writer Barbara Casavecchia studying What is Love is commissioned for the project.

Huma Bhabha (b. 1962, Karachi, Pakistan) lives and works in Poughkeepsie, New York. Her sculptures are made from tactile materials such as Styrofoam, air-dried clay, wire, cork and scraps of construction material. They are informed by a vast array of cultural references, from the cinematography of 1979 sci-fi classic “Stalker” to the architecture of Cambodia’s ancient temples at Angkor Wat. Her works address what Bhabha describes as the ‘eternal concerns’ found of war, colonialism, displacement and memories of home. Solo exhibitions include; Unnatural Histories at P.S.1/MoMA Contemporary Art Centre, New York, USA (2012-2013); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado, USA (2011). Recent group exhibitions include; America is Hard to See, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015); 56th International Art Exhibition – All the World’s Futures, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2015); A Different Kind of Order, The ICP Triennial, International Center of Photography, New York, USA (2013); Land Marks, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA (2013); Statuesque, Nasher Sculptural Center, Dallas, Texas, USA (2011); Contemporary Galleries: 1980 – Now, MOMA, New York, USA (2011); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA (2010); 7th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South Korea (2008); and After-Nature, The New Museum, New York, USA (2008).

DRAF Studies are a series of focused case-studies of works from the David Roberts Collection. Each presentation centres on a single work, displayed on its own in a gallery with a printed booklet. The commissioned writer studies the work in depth: from its techniques, origin and history to its position in the artist’s practice and contemporary debates. Previous Studies include works by Victor Man, Carole Bove, Bruce McLean, Martin Boyce, Boyle Family, Michael Simpson, Yto Barrada, Sterling Ruby, Ida Applebroog, Andreas Slominski, Etel Adnan, Phillip Guston, Fiona Banner and Rosemarie Trockel.

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  • Installation view of Study #16. What is Love, Huma Bhabha at DRAF, 2017. Courtesy the artist and DRAF. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    1/10Installation view of Study #16. What is Love, Huma Bhabha at DRAF, 2017. Courtesy the artist and DRAF. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Installation view of Study #16. What is Love, Huma Bhabha at DRAF, 2017. Courtesy the artist and DRAF. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    2/10Installation view of Study #16. What is Love, Huma Bhabha at DRAF, 2017. Courtesy the artist and DRAF. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Huma Bhabha, What is Love, 2013. Courtesy the artist and David Roberts Collection, London. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    3/10Huma Bhabha, What is Love, 2013. Courtesy the artist and David Roberts Collection, London. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Huma Bhabha, What is Love, 2013. Courtesy the artist and David Roberts Collection, London. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    4/10Huma Bhabha, What is Love, 2013. Courtesy the artist and David Roberts Collection, London. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Huma Bhabha, What is Love, 2013. Courtesy the artist and David Roberts Collection, London. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    5/10Huma Bhabha, What is Love, 2013. Courtesy the artist and David Roberts Collection, London. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Huma Bhabha, Untitled, 2009. Courtesy the artist and David Roberts Collection, London. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    6/10Huma Bhabha, Untitled, 2009. Courtesy the artist and David Roberts Collection, London. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Installation view of Study #16. What is Love, Huma Bhabha at DRAF, 2017. Courtesy the artist and DRAF. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    7/10Installation view of Study #16. What is Love, Huma Bhabha at DRAF, 2017. Courtesy the artist and DRAF. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Huma Bhabha, Once, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    8/10Huma Bhabha, Once, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Huma Bhabha, Once, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    9/10Huma Bhabha, Once, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Huma Bhabha, Untitled, 2013. Courtesy the artist and David Roberts Collection, London. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    10/10Huma Bhabha, Untitled, 2013. Courtesy the artist and David Roberts Collection, London. Photo: Tim Bowditch