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Huma Bhabha: Before The End

With the ominous title Before The End, Huma Bhabha (b. Karachi, Pakistan, 1962) sets the stage to evoke mythologies as old as humankind. Conceived for Brooklyn Bridge Park, Bhabha’s four monumental painted and patinated bronzes were cast from carved cork and skull fragments. The mysterious figures recall ancient effigies cut into tombstones, their surfaces evoking centuries of eroded sediment and stone. Yet, unlike a tomb, these four-sided vertical forms stand elevated above the earth, their bones open to the sky.

Before The End” is a title borrowed from the writings of Vincent of Beauvais (c. 1184 – 1264), whose Medieval imagination sparked with supernatural and apocalyptic visions. Today, the related popular genres of horror and science fiction continue to inspire Bhabha, as does art history from antiquity to the present day. Her rough-hewn figures are ambiguous—are they emerging or trapped within, rising from the depths of the earth or returning to the underworld? Set amidst an expansive landscape where the natural and man-made converge, Bhabha’s sculptures captivate through contradiction, seemingly forged in geological time yet animated with a visceral sense of immediacy.

Huma Bhabha: Before The End is curated by Public Art Fund Executive & Artistic Director Nicholas Baume with support from Public Art Fund Assistant Curator Jenée-Daria Strand.

About the Artist

Since the 1990s, Huma Bhabha (b. 1962) has become known for layered and nuanced work that centers on reinvention of the figure and its expressive possibilities. Her formally inventive practice encompasses sculpture, drawings, and photography. Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Bhabha moved to the United States in 1981 to attend Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, from which she received her BFA in 1985. She later studied at the School of the Arts at Columbia University, New York, from which she received her MFA in 1989. The artist presently lives and works in Poughkeepsie, New York. 

Bhabha has been the recipient of notable awards, such as The American Academy in Berlin’s Berlin Prize, the Guna S. Mundheim Fellowship (2013), and the Emerging Artist Award from The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut (2008). In 2022, Bhabha was elected as a National Academician by the The National Academy of Design, New York. In 2023, the artist was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York. 

In 2023, M Leuven, Belgium, presented the solo exhibition Huma Bhabha: LIVIN’ THINGS. The show traveled to MO.CO., Montpellier, France, in November 2023, as Huma Bhabha: A fly appeared, and disappeared. A solo presentation of Bhabha’s work curated by Nicholas Baume, Touching Earth, was on view at Fundación Casa Wabi, Puerto Escondido, Mexico, from 2022 to 2023. In 2020, the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, England, presented Huma Bhabha: Against Time. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, organized Huma Bhabha: They Live, on view in 2019, and published an accompanying catalog. An installation of the artist’s work, Huma Bhabha: We Come in Peace, was commissioned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 2018 for their roof garden. 

Previous solo exhibitions have taken place at prominent institutions such as The Contemporary Austin, Texas (2018); MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York (2012); Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy (2012); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2011); and The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut (2008), among others. Bhabha’s work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions internationally, including the 2019 Yorkshire Sculpture International, Wakefield, United Kingdom; the 56th Venice Biennale, All the World’s Futures (2015); and the 2010 Whitney Biennial.

Installation Photos

Location

Location

Pier 3 Greenway Terrace, Brooklyn Bridge Park

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