Art@Site Huma Bhabha God of Some Things Austin

Huma Bhabha


God of Some Things

God of Some Things
Elevated on a high, stepped stone platform, as if a part of forgotten architecture, the hybrid figure in God of Some Things evokes a deity across the ages, perhaps both female and male, without context, religion, or home. The figure was carved from cork then cast in bronze.
While Huma Bhabha (American, born 1962 in Karachi, Pakistan) considers her work to be responsive to our present-day—particularly the wide-reaching influences of colonialism, politics, and war—the artist’s references to the past are encyclopedic, spanning civilizations, including ancient Greek and Indian cultures, contemporary art, and science fiction.
Bhabha’s sculptures have been described as artifacts from the future, as they could be the ruins of an ancient civilization or the creative outgrowth of an epoch yet to come. Drawn to the ways in which our 21st-century mega-cities can at times resemble archaeological digs, and to the breadth of resources that s in a sweeping view of historical and geographical art references, Bhabha’s unconventional materials and gestural approach rebuke the traditional role of monumental sculpture, which is typically solemn and heroic. God Of Some Things is not only indicative of Bhabha’s distinctive style and approach, but ample evidence of her broadly encompassing diasporic perspective.
Bhabha’s The Orientalist conveys ideas of exoticism, difference, and otherness. Equally primitive and futuristic, Bhabha’s figure theatrically poses as an ominous king or deity. Cast in bronze, it sits as an imposing relic from a fictional history, a regal air emanating from its polished geometric armour, molten death mask, and ethereal chicken wire veil. Humanised through exaggerated hands and feet and sympathetic cartoon styling, its powers waver between the comically surreal and portentously intimidating, drawing narrative suggestion from the loaded clichés of late night science fiction and horror movies.
Typically Bhabha works with humble, castoff materials such as recycled packing materials, tires, cork, and other industrial and consumer refuse, although in the last 10 years she has occasionally worked in bronze. God Of Some Things (2011) was one of two large-scale bronze sculptures that flanked the entrance to Bhabha’s first solo museum exhibition at MoMA PS1 in 2012. The sculpture highlights her interests in figurative sculpture and direct carving; the patinated bronze is cast from molds made from an original hand-chiseled piece of cork. Texturally, the sculpture gives the appearance of lightweight cork, and plays against the viewer’s expectation of the heft and permanence of bronze.
The columnar figure is ambiguous in many respects: female or male, god or human, ancient or modern—all classifications could be valid. As is typical of Bhabha’s approach, God Of Some Things draws from a vast repertoire of examples from art history and archaeology. The singed cor original carving has the quality of volcanic rock, and suggests that the sculpture may have emerged directly from the earth. Morphologically, Bhabha also finds inspiration in Alberto Giacometti’s lissome bronze figures, representations of the Egyptian deity Thoth as a baboon, the symmetry of 19th-century Fang reliquary sculptures, the jagged surfaces of George Baselitz’s wood forms, and designs of Hollywood science fiction monsters.
Working almost entirely in figurative sculpture, Huma Bhabha’s approach is unconventional and cross-cultural, making connections between histories, languages and civilisations.
Huma Bhabha made her first public realm commission in the UK for Yorkshire Sculpture International 2019, which was on display in Wakefield city centre for the duration of the festival. Now the festival has closed, Receiver is on display at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Assembled and carved from everyday materials like Styrofoam packaging, cork, clay and p, Bhabha’s work has a timeless quality and her practice is a meditation on new ways of approaching the tactile challenges of sculpture-making. Her work draws on wide-ranging influences that include ancient vocabularies, to Picasso, Giacometti, Daumier and German Neo-Expressionists; and the sci-fi dystopias of Philip K. Dick.
Bhabha has exhibited widely, including the acclaimed “We Come in Peace”, for the Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York (2018), “Greater New York” at MoMA PS1 New York (2015-16), the 2015 Venice Biennale, the 2012 Paris Triennial; and the 2010 Whitney Biennial.
Huma Bhabha (born 1962) is a Pakistani-American sculptor based in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Known for her uniquely grotesque, figurative forms that often appear dissected or dismembered, Bhabha often uses found materials in her sculptures, including styrofoam, cork, rubber, paper, wire, and clay. She occasionally incorporates objects given to her by other peher artwork. Many of these sculptures are also cast in bronze. She is equally prolific in her works on paper, creating vivid pastel drawings, eerie photographic collages, and haunting print editions.