Hamra Abbas

Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai

September 19, 2016

Hamra Abbas

Until 10 November, 2016

Preview: September 18, 6–9pm

Lawrie Shabibi
Unit 21, Alserkal Avenue
Al Quoz

T +9714 (0) 346 9906
info [​at​] lawrieshabibi.com


Lawrie Shabibi is pleased to present Bodies by Hamra Abbas, the artist’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. Moving effortlessly between a variety of materials, Bodies is influenced by Abbas’s recent move back to her hometown Lahore, relating her distinct experiences and observations of middle-class religious practices in homes and in the city’s public spaces.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is the second part of her ”Barakah Gifts” series, which are large-scale reproductions of commercial souvenirs sold as mementos for pilgrims at the markets adjacent to the two holy mosques. Taking representative images of the holy sites and transforming them into everyday items, these trinkets find their way back to the pilgrims’ homes or are gifted to family and friends. Comprising a colourful and ostentatious composition of shiny minarets, shimmering balls and the Kaaba, Barakah Gift II, is a penholder taken from a souvenir Abbas collected whilst on Umrah. Transformed into an absurdly large installation, it reveals the seductive interplay between commerce and devotion.

On a more intimate scale are three hyper-realistic carvings in sheesham wood that testify to the artist’s observance of everyday life in the homes and on the streets of Lahore, creating icons out of the ordinary.

The photograph Sweet and Savory, shows two small piles of rice left on a security barrier at the entrance to Data Darbar, one of the most revered shrines in Lahore. Food is distributed here every day for the visitors who come from afar on a daily basis, but the rice on the edge of a security barrier is seemingly left for the birds. Social and religious practices at public sites in Pakistan have come under threat in recent years, for example, in 2010, a terrorist attack at Data Darbar killed scores of people, and the site is now subject to heightened security. The sweet and savoury rice placed humbly on the security barrier highlights the current state of unease in Pakistan’s devotional sites: of the coexistence of both hospitality and hostility.

One Rug, Any Color is a selection of coloured nylon prayer rugs bought by Abbas on Amazon. Prayer rugs depicting the Kaaba have recently fallen out of favour, unlike in the past, when such images on prayers rugs were quite common, hence can be quite impossible to source in the markets of Lahore today. The piece recalls an incident in Umrah, when a woman handed the artist one in a small bag as she was leaving the Prophets’ Mosque in Medina.
Artist biography
Hamra Abbas (b. Kuwait, 1976) received her BFA and MA in Visual Arts from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 1999 and 2002 respectively before going on to the Universitaet der Kuenste in Berlin where she did the Meisterschueler in 2004. Her works originate from encounters and experiences—an image, icon or gesture—that are manipulated by the artist transforming its scale, function or medium. Unrestrained by subject matter or media, she takes an investigative approach to produce a diverse and holistic body of work addressing notions of cultural history, sexuality, violence, ornamentation and faith. Notable international public collections include the Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels, Belgium; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas, USA; Kadist Collection, Paris, France; British Museum, London, United Kingdom; Devi Art Foundation, Gurgaon, India; Kiran Nader Museum of Art, New Delhi, India; Art In Embassies Collection, USA; Koç Foundation, Istanbul, Turkey; and Borusan Contemporary Art Collection, Istanbul, Turkey. She is the recipient of the Jury prize at Sharjah Biennial 9, the Abraaj Capital Art Prize in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Jameel Prize in 2009. She lives and works between Lahore and Boston.

About Lawrie Shabibi
Lawrie Shabibi is a contemporary art gallery housed in Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue. The gallery supports the long-term development of the careers of young international contemporary artists with a focus on those from the Middle East and North Africa. The gallery also organizes art historical exhibitions working with an older generation of artists from the region.

Media contact
For more information, images or media enquiries contact Margaret Antelme:
margaret [​at​] lawrieshabibi.com, T +971 4 346 9906