Huma Bhabha

A rich theatre of reality, with material as its protagonist.

Huma Bhabha sat next to a small sculpture looking into the distance
Huma Bhabha reaching upward to adjust the head of a sculpture
Huma Bhabha sat in her studio smiling with her two dogs
4 images

Huma Bhabha was born in 1962 in Karachi, Pakistan, and now lives and works in New York, USA.

Career

With an auction record in excess of $200,000 USD, the artist's works are featured in collections including Centre Pompidou, Paris; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and the Hirshhorn in Washington, D.C. — where visitors can find We Come in Peace (2018) on view in the museum’s sculpture garden.

Did you know?

Robert Nava is one of many artists to cite Bhabha as a pivotal influence for their practice - “Huma is one of my favourite artists, her work is very powerful and soulful.”

Love this artist’s work?
Let us know by signing up for updates, and you’ll be the first to hear about future collaborations and releases.

Practice overview

For three decades Bhabha has created monumental figurations questioning the human race of past, present and future. She embodies complex reflections on colonialism, memory and war through her hands-on and intuitive use of materials. While Bhabha considers herself primarily a sculptor, her practice spans many mediums including drawing, printmaking, assemblage, painting, collage and photography. In the early 1980s, Bhabha moved from her birth town Karachi in Pakistan to study in the United States. She has lived between the two countries for much of her life - now residing in upstate New York. Early in her career, Bhabha would document the urban landscape of Karachi by taking photographs and collecting objects to incorporate in her sculptures. The use of found-objects as relics of contemporary history continues in her practice today.

Bhabha’s style is defined by an archaic futurism: ancient sculptural forms doused in epic sci-fi cinematics. This sensibility is rooted in a wealth of influences, from ancient Greek Kouroi and Gandharan Buddhas to modernists like Giacometti and Picasso, along with references to contemporary culture including 80s horror films by David Cronenberg. Quintessential works of Bhabha’s such as Beyond the River (2019) and Museum without Walls (2006) could easily be pharaoh, humanoid, alien or monster. With construction materials like wood, styrofoam and chicken wire clearly visible, Bhabha proudly reveals their making. These juxtapositions of commonplace materials and grand emblems of art history appear throughout her oeuvre - time-warping and indefinable.

Bhabha makes art a theatre of reality. The Company - her 2019 solo show at Gagosian in Rome - was based on The Lottery in Babylon written by Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges in 1941. The short story describes a society governed by a system that disciplines and compensates people at random, controlled by an elusive group called ‘the company.’ In the show, Bhabha visualises this powerful group who, in a contemporary context, are as likely to be algorithms as physical beings. Vivid pastel drawings with splashes of neon were displayed alongside monolithic figures, a pair of giant dismembered hands and a photomontage of an ancient Egyptian dog. Like the sci-fi tale, the fantasy characters subvert real conditions of power in their own commanding performance. With staunch originality, Bhabha steps back from our current moment to reveal a panoramic view of humanity’s histories, fantasies and futures.

“For me, ghastly and horror mean sophisticated and beautiful.” Huma Bhabha