February 6, 2012 - Collezione Maramotti - Huma Bhabha’s Players
February 6, 2012

Huma Bhabha’s Players

Huma Bhabha, “Untitled,” 2011.
Ink, pastel and acrylic on paper, 57,2 x 39,4 cm.*

Huma Bhabha

12 February–15 April 2012

Collezione Maramotti
Via Fratelli Cervi 66
42124 Reggio Emilia, Italy

T +39 0522 382484
info [​at​] collezionemaramotti.org


In both the sculptures from the mid-1990s, and the new drawings created for the exhibition Players, Huma Bhabha reinvents the human head, deconstructing and reconstructing an archetype in which she gathers and transforms various art-historical typologies: from the African, Oceanic and carnival masks to those worn by the actors/dancers in the Indian theatre, from the grotesque faces of Expressionist painting to the demonic, hybrid features we may find in the characters of science-fiction movies or the Marvel comic books.

The practice of inscribing a face with multiple meanings is evident in Huma Bhabha’s recent pastels of imaginary portraits, which in their iconography hark back to and build on precisely her masks of the 1990s. These masks were technological portraits of archaic beings, constructed using papier mâché and found materials, including plastic cables and vacuum cleaners hoses, almost as remnants of special effects from science-fiction and horror films.

These sculptures did indeed constitute the first significant emergence of Bhabha’s artistic personality, from which she slowly progressed to the architectural heads and figures that have characterized her more recent work, these too fashioned from found materials but with surfaces in painted clay, and in various states of deformation and fragmentation.

The drawings mark a return to an expressionistic mode of depiction of fantasmal faces; for them Huma Bhabha is again seeking inspiration from two very different sources, tribal art and science-fiction, combining them to arrive at a new kind of figuration. The artist constructs the human face as a site in which all the possibilities of the expressive can be played out: it’s a story that started with German Expressionism, even earlier with Munch and Ensor, and to which Picasso and Bacon later contributed further iconic complexity. Bhabha has created, in her own words, a gallery of “Players … masks for what kind of ritual? gathering? or tournament? Lions, warriors, clowns, monsters … all mashed up into some kind of twenty-first-century synthetic plaster, mutated and reinvented as a new/old race.”

Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue published by Silvana Editoriale. The volume includes an essay by Mario Diacono and a text by the anthropologist Giancarlo Scoditti who explores the notion of the mask as an expressive form which in many tribal cultures can be related to a mental image that reveals itself in a ritual context: a subtle game of cross-references to something other than what is visible.

The exhibition is free and can be visited during the opening hours of the Collezione Maramotti:
Thursday and Friday 2.30pm – 6.30pm
Saturday and Sunday 10.30am – 6.30pm


Huma Bhabha was born in 1962 in Karachi (Pakistan), where she grew. She lives and works in Poughkeepsie (NY, USA).

She never formally studied sculpture, but used to paint and draw as a child, in her house full of artbooks, encouraged by her mother, also an artist.

Bhabha moved to the United States in 1981 to attend the Rhode Island School of Design, graduating in 1985. In 1989 she received her MFA from Columbia University, where she met her husband, the artist Jason Fox. She has been living in New York ever since, although she returns regularly to Pakistan.

Her works are exhibited in the most important museums and galleries of the world. In the last years she had solo exhibitions at: MoMA (2012, 2010); Aspen Art Museum (2011); Salon 94 (2010, 2007); The Aldrich Museum (2008). Moreover she took part in group exhibitions at: Nascher Sculptural Center (2011); SMAK (2010); White Columns (2010, 1996, 1994); Whitney Museum (2010, 2009); Saatchi Gallery (2010); Stedelijk Museum Bureau (2010); MoMA (2010); Paula Cooper Gallery (2009); Gwangju Biennale (2008); The New Museum (2008); State Hermitage Museum (2007); Royal Academy of Arts (2006); P.S.1 (2005, 1992); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (2002); MOCA (1994).

*Image above:
© Huma Bhabha.
Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94 Gallery.

Huma Bhabha's Players at Collezione Maramotti
Collezione Maramotti
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