Huma Bhabha
              Patrick Langley
              Huma Bhabha’s humanoid sculpture In the Shadow of the Sun (2016), displayed on a low white plinth in a brightly lit room in London’s Stephen Friedman Gallery, stares at the viewer with inscrutable, smudged black eyes. The figure is female. She wears a hood. Her torso, cut from Styrofoam embellished with spray paint and oil stick, is colored a metallic blue-grey. The jagged breasts and pincer-like labia suggest this might be a fearsome goddess, worshiped millennia ago by an ancient civilization. Seen another way, this otherworldly presence could be an alien representative of a troubling future—a civilization yet to come. That such sharply opposed interpretations are possible demonstrates the breadth and ambition of Bhabha’s work. In her sculptures, drawings, and collages, she incorporates elements of Greek kouroi, African tribal masks, and the sculptures of the Gandhara culture of northern Pakistan, which she mashes together with references to modernist sculpture. The artist cites Robert Rauschenberg’s “combines” as a key influence, alongside the brittle figuration of Alberto Giacometti and Pablo Picasso’s assemblages, while more contemporary comparisons might be drawn to the rough-hewn figures of Georg Baselitz or Thomas Houseago’s iron rebar titans. That all these artists are male suggests that Bhabha is working …

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