Hamra Abbas

b. 1976 in Kuwait City, Kuwait
Working in Boston, MA, United States of America and Lahore, Pakistan
Showing at Asia Society Museum
On view October 27, 2020, through February 7, 2021
Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020

Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020. Ink and gouache on silk. Ten paintings, each: H. 15 x W. 13 1/2 in. (38.1 x 34.3 cm). Private Collection, Dubai, UAE. Photograph by Asif Khan

Location: Asia Society Museum
Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020

Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020. Ink and gouache on silk. Ten paintings, each: H. 15 x W. 13 1/2 in. (38.1 x 34.3 cm). Private Collection, Dubai, UAE. Photograph by Asif Khan

Location: Asia Society Museum
Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020

Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020. Ink and gouache on silk. Ten paintings, each: H. 15 x W. 13 1/2 in. (38.1 x 34.3 cm). Private Collection, Dubai, UAE. Photograph by Asif Khan

Location: Asia Society Museum
Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020

Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020. Ink and gouache on silk. Ten paintings, each: H. 15 x W. 13 1/2 in. (38.1 x 34.3 cm). Private Collection, Dubai, UAE. Photograph by Asif Khan

Location: Asia Society Museum
Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020

Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020. Ink and gouache on silk. Ten paintings, each: H. 15 x W. 13 1/2 in. (38.1 x 34.3 cm). Private Collection, Dubai, UAE. Photograph by Asif Khan

Location: Asia Society Museum
Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020

Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020. Ink and gouache on silk. Ten paintings, each: H. 15 x W. 13 1/2 in. (38.1 x 34.3 cm). Private Collection, Dubai, UAE. Photograph by Asif Khan

Location: Asia Society Museum
Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020

Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020. Ink and gouache on silk. Ten paintings, each: H. 15 x W. 13 1/2 in. (38.1 x 34.3 cm). Private Collection, Dubai, UAE. Photograph by Asif Khan

Location: Asia Society Museum
Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020

Hamra Abbas, Every Color, 2020. Ink and gouache on silk. Ten paintings, each: H. 15 x W. 13 1/2 in. (38.1 x 34.3 cm). Private Collection, Dubai, UAE. Photograph by Asif Khan

Location: Asia Society Museum
Hamra Abbas, Every Color (detail), 2020

Hamra Abbas, Every Color (detail), 2020. Ink and gouache on silk. Ten paintings, each: H. 15 x W. 13 1/2 in. (38.1 x 34.3 cm). Private Collection, Dubai, UAE. Photograph by Asif Khan

Location: Asia Society Museum
Hamra Abbas, Every Color (detail), 2020

Hamra Abbas, Every Color (detail), 2020. Ink and gouache on silk. Ten paintings, each: H. 15 x W. 13 1/2 in. (38.1 x 34.3 cm). Private Collection, Dubai, UAE. Photograph by Asif Khan

Location: Asia Society Museum
Installation view of “Every Color is a Shade of Black” at COMO Museum of Art, Lahore, 2020

Installation view of “Every Color is a Shade of Black” at COMO Museum of Art, Lahore, 2020. Courtesy of  COMO Museum of Art, Lahore I Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai. Photograph by Asif Khan

Installation view of “Every Color is a Shade of Black” at COMO Museum of Art, Lahore, 2020

Installation view of “Every Color is a Shade of Black” at COMO Museum of Art, Lahore, 2020. Courtesy of  COMO Museum of Art, Lahore I Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai. Photograph by Asif Khan

Trained in the South Asian miniature painting tradition, Hamra Abbas’s multidisciplinary practice is inspired by her personal encounters. The artist transforms these experiences, taking an image, icon, or gesture and altering their scale, medium, or form. Her diverse body of work often interrogates notions of cultural history, sexuality, violence, ornamentation, and faith. Abbas completed her MFA and MA in visual arts from the National College of Arts in Lahore, followed by an MFA from the Universitaet der Kuenste, Berlin.


In this suite of ten paintings, entitled Every Color, Abbas has created portraits of her friends and contacts from the Lahore transgender community, which she has been documenting for the past five years. This community has been gradually displaced as their traditional roles as singers and performers at weddings and other lifecycle events are now often seen as out of step with modern culture. Abbas’s precise brushwork also deploys aspect of the Chinese gongbi painting technique, a meticulous brushwork style with precise detailing that reached peak popularity during the Tang and Song dynasties, which the artist learned during a 2015 residency in Singapore. Although diminutive in scale, this series utilizes some of the same brush techniques as the monumental silk painting by the Chinese artist Lao Tongli, whose work is also on view as part of the Triennial. The artist omits head coverings, such as shawls, to focus on the faces of the individuals. These portraits are intimate snapshots that connect the viewer with the faces of a marginalized community facing an uncertain future.


Partial support by Taimur Hassan 


Supported in-kind by Lawrie Shabibi

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