Shehr O Funn

Hamra Abbas

The Black Square, After Malevich, 2018
Metal plexiglass, light, 3 x 3 ft

Kaaba Picture as a Misprint 1-6, 2014
Archival Pigment Print, 137 x 110 cm each

Hamra Abbas (b. 1976, Kuwait City, Kuwait) lives and works in Lahore.
Abbas’ work originates from encounters and experiences. An object, image or icon is manipulated by the artist, transforming its scale, function or medium. Unrestrained by subject matter or media, she takes an investigative approach to produce a diverse and holistic body of work addressing notions of cultural history, sexuality, violence, ornamentation, devotion, and faith.
Black Square explores the motifs of interpretation and intervention through the phenomenology of colour. As such, colour is often enough deployed as a symbol (as in a flag or an object of devotion) or a metaphor (signifying moods and temperaments) to represent shared ideals, and to mark the difference in respect to the “other.” This differential politics of colour is especially important to understand in the context of a society, like Pakistan that has sought to regulate or eradicate, through a systematic rationalization of religion in service of state (nationalist) ideology. Kaaba Picture as a Misprint (2011) deconstructs the colour black of the Kaaba through the image of a misprint to reveal hidden multiplicity – cyan, magenta, yellow – the constituents that go into the making of this “holy colour.” The artist questions the truth-value of such representations by drawing attention to the compositional presence, or polysemy, of other “colours,” that although invisible are in fact central to the ontological uniformity of such colours of ideology.
Abbas studied at the National College of Arts, Lahore, and at the Universitaet der Kuenste, Berlin. Recent solo exhibitions include those at Lahore Art Gallery, Pakistan, 2018; Colour, Canvas gallery, Karachi, Pakistan, 2017; Bodies, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, UAE, 2016. Recent Group exhibitions include those at Art Dubai Contemporary, with Lawrie Shabibi, UAE, 2018; Lahore Biennale, Pakistan, 2018; Global Control and Censorship, Galeria Arsenal, Bialystok, Poland, 2017; Karachi Biennale, Karachi, Pakistan, 2017;  Sanctuary, FOR- SITE Foundation, San Francisco, USA, 2017-2018; Insights, Art Basel Hong Kong, with Lawrie Shabibi, 2017; The Making of an Institution, NTU CCA, Singapore, 2017.

Text and image source: Lahore Biennale Foundation; Lawrie Shabibi