Hamra Abbas: Artist Talk
Pakistani artist Hamra Abbas, who frequently intertwines the contemporary with the classic to create a dual critique of modern Western and Islamic cultures, will speak on June 29 at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Asia Society Texas Center is hosting the free event, which begins at 7:00 pm.
Recently featured in Asia Society New York's acclaimed exhibition Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art From Pakistan, Abbas will discuss her work and Pakistan's contemporary art scene. Following her talk, she will be joined for a discussion by Toby Kamps, senior curator at the CAMH.
Abbas's main medium is sculpture. However, her work explores a diverse range of materials and scales as well as concepts.
Her 2006 animated piece Battle Scenes juxtaposes war motifs in Indian miniature painting from the imperial court of Akbar, a 16th-century Mughal ruler, with present-day Western imaginings of the East. Ride 2 (pictured above), a fiberglass and wood sculpture included in the Asia Society New York exhibition, references the Buraq, a mythical creature known in the Islamic world as Muhammad's steed. Abbas's refiguring of the creature, with her own face transposed to the Buraq's, playfully reinterprets a ubiquitous image from the Islamic world by refashioning it on a magnified scale.
For Read, a large-scale wood and sound installation piece exhibited at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Abbas creates a labyrinthine wooden structure suspended in air with sound recordings of children reciting passages from the Quran. Read is Abbas's exploration of the conservative Islamic religious culture of the madrassas. However, in focusing on the universality of childhood, she offers a de-politicized and un-exoticized reading of this institution.
Abbas will discuss these pieces and others during her talk.
Abbas has bachelor's and master's degrees in fine art from the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan. She also received the Meisterschueler at the Universitaet der Kuenste in Berlin. She is currently based in Boston and Islamabad.
We are grateful to our co-sponsor, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.