Hamra Abbas’ presentation of a new body of works with ‘COLOR/GARDEN’ at Lawrie Shabibi ties together her own artistic practice and the cultural aims of Dubai. This solo overlaps with the 14th edition of Art Dubai as well her monumental EXPO 2020 Dubai public art commission ‘Garden’, encouraging audiences visits across several sites in the city to further engage with Hamra’s stunning work. The simultaneity of these presentations bind not only the multiple layers that form Hamra as an artist but reasons why Dubai is being recognised as a force in the global art world.
For some years now Hamra has dug deep into the materiality of colour as a perceptual medium. She asked herself how pigment can act as an object in itself, and what materials would allow light (a relatively ephemeral idea in itself) to take on the heft of a sculptural form? Answers have come to her in a range of media, from print and plexiglass to light boxes, and the marble inlay techniques grounded in classical Mughal architecture. In ‘COLOR/GARDEN’ we see an increased refinement of technical and conceptual ability as she uses stone and heritage craft to introduce contemporary aesthetics and ways of thinking. Updating the past to such currency reflects Hamra’s own reactions to the world, and hints at the inseperability between her lived experiences and creative acts.
In terms of making heritage relevant to The Now, ‘Mountain I’, a lapis lazuli mountainscape, feels particularly successful to my eye. At first glance the large blue ‘scape comes across as almost abstract, but once the eye adjusts we realise it is in fact a focused composition of mountainous peaks and ridges. Through medium and subject matter Hamra has traced through Pakistani history, reminding us histories can be told through art, culture and physical surroundings themselves, while offering a stance on life as she experiences it today in the twenty-first century.
Another favourite? ‘Every Color 2’, an archival print whose super-contemporary appearance sits on the foundation of understanding centuries-worth of transnational colour theory.
Text by Zena Khan.
Artworks by Hamra Abbas courtesy of Lawrie Shabibi.
Every Colour 2, 2022
Archival pigment print
Set of 6
43 1/4 x 54 in each
Edition of 5 plus 2 AP
Waterfall 2, 2022
Marble, lapis lazuli, onyx, jasper, serpentine, calcite
16 1/2 x 16 1/2 in
Mountain 1, 2022
Lapis lazuli, granite
72 x 96 in
Tree 1, 2022
Marble, lapis lazuli, serpentine, jasper, calcite
84 x 30 in