Zehra Jumabhoy

  • Lahore Biennale 02

    EMPEROR HUMAYUN was a keen astrologer. This most whimsical of the Great Mughals thought of his throne as the sun and of his courtiers as planets, and he chose his clothes according to his horoscope. So enamored with the heavens was he that one fine night in 1556, as he gazed at the stars from his observatory tower, he missed a step and tumbled to his death. Historians argue about the details of Humayun’s demise, but what is indisputable is this: For the Mughals, the planets exerted a powerful pull.

  • David Nash

    “Are you Welsh now?” I teased the British sculptor David Nash at the opening of his retrospective, where artworks made over fifty years (or two hundred seasons, as the catalogue poetically put it) congregated for the biggest exhibition dedicated to the artist in his adopted homeland. “My job is to make everyone else feel more Welsh,” was his enigmatic reply. Nash was born in 1945 in Esher, UK, but he has lived and worked in the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, in North Wales, for more than five decades. A place of special significance to the artist is Capel Rhiw, a Methodist chapel that was built in

  • FAR FROM HOME

    ONE MORNING this past spring, a small volume arrived in my mailbox. At first I was mystified by the unexpected gift. The book isn’t a catalogue. It isn’t a memoir. It isn’t strictly prose. Nor is it wholly poetry. Across its ninety-seven pages, Directions to My House includes diaristic fragments, poems, family photographs, and reproductions of artworks. These scattered components, alternately deadpan and personal, add up to a provisional portrait of their elusive author: the “Indian” artist Zarina (surname: Hashmi—though she prefers to be known by her given name).

    Zarina’s book, written with

  • Zahoor ul Akhlaq

    We see a ghostly gray-white rendition of what looks like a page from a Mughal manuscript. The calligraphic script, a lighter shade of pale, is illegible. The mock-up of the manuscript is contained within a gray-edged white border, which is in turn framed by another gray-edged white margin. A frame within a frame, framed by another frame, the painting draws us in, only to perplex us further. Where does the work begin and its border end? Is this a finished painting or a primed canvas waiting to become one? Untitled, 1989, was one of the enigmatic canvases on view at “Persistence of Vision: Zahoor

  • N. S. Harsha

    In the room-filling Sky Gazers, 2010, a mass of multicolored faces greeted us from the floor: those of a brown-bearded man, a lady in a burka, a redheaded boy, and a blonde woman. These upturned visages, painted onto the floor, were also reflected in a mirror that had been fitted into the ceiling over our heads. So, as I gazed up at them, I saw myself reflected in their midst. Who was the viewer and who the viewed? N. S. Harsha’s looking-glass world contains many such curious conundrums.

    After all, the South Indian artist’s largest show in the UK to date was called “ᖷacing”—the reversed F

  • “All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life”

    “John Minton committed suicide because ‘Matisse and Picasso had done everything there’s to be done in art.’ Unfortunately he had not heard of me,” boasted Indian artist F. N. Souza. At Tate Britain, curators Elena Crippa and Laura Castagnini corroborated Souza’s point—sort of. Spanning more than a hundred years, and featuring slightly fewer than a hundred paintings, their exhibition proclaimed the so-called School of London to be the natural heir to the figurative legacy of the “School of Paris.” Although Souza himself was not presented as London’s answer to Picasso—the show’s title

  • Rasheed Araeen

    “THIS IS A UNIQUE STORY. It is a story that has never been told,” wrote artist and pedagogue Rasheed Araeen in his catalogue essay for the 1989 exhibition “The Other Story: Afro-Asian Artists in Post-War Britain” at London’s Hayward Gallery. The exhibition, encompassing works by the Indian painter Francis Newton Souza, Filipino artist David Medalla, and Chinese photographer Li Yuan-chia, marked a watershed moment for Asian and African artists. Along with the Centre Pompidou’s “Magiciens de la terre” (Magicians of the World) of the same year, it facilitated the entry of non-Western artists into

  • Nalini Malani

    I walked into a womb-like interior—and panicked. Eight clear Mylar cylinders were suspended from the ceiling, each one painted on the inside and lit from within, and they were made to rotate, so that they projected shifting, sliding colored images on the walls as they spun around and around: a little girl on crutches, schools of fish gobbled up by a bigger fish, mutilated limbs and intestines swirling in the red glare, and . . . was that Lewis Carroll’s Alice suspended in a pool of blood? The sword-wielding Mad Meg, an apparition from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s eponymously named 1562

  • “New North and South”

    Small white dots coalesce to depict a ghostly, incomplete circle on a jet-black background. What does the mysterious form represent? A cosmic egg disintegrating into nothingness? Souls floating off into heaven? Is it a symbol of hope or despair? This is My Small Dancing Particles, 2017, a diptych of ink on wasli (handmade) paper by Waqas Khan, a Pakistani artist trained in traditional miniature-painting techniques. Khan’s paper work is part of a solo show at the Manchester Art Gallery that is one of fifteen exhibitions in Manchester’s citywide extravaganza “New North and South.” A multi-artist,

  • Shezad Dawood

    In October I went to Kalimpong, a small town in West Bengal, India. I traversed the snowy peaks of the Himalayas, where I followed the hulking form of an abominable snowman until he dissolved into iridescent mist. I visited the venerable Himalayan Hotel, once owned by the British trade agent David Macdonald, with its multicultural decor, potted plants, and Tibetan scrolls. Here, I picked up an ancient manuscript and, with trepidation, approached a giant bony finger enclosed in a glass cabinet—the relic of a yeti? As I left the warm, protective atmosphere of the hotel, I entered a dark cave.

  • “N. S. Harsha: Charming Journey”

    In the painting Come Give Us a Speech, 2008, rows of pastel-clad figures sit waiting. Some gaze into space, others gossip, adjust their saris, scratch. Are they expecting the arrival of a sage, a superstar—or N. S. Harsha himself? Unlike his impatient painted folk, Harsha’s fans need tarry no more: They can visit the largest assembly of the Indian artist’s work to date. Organized by Mami Kataoka, the Mori Art Museum’s chief curator, the extravaganza boasts more than seventy-five artworks from the past two decades. Visitors will meet old favorites (such as Nations,

  • diary November 10, 2016

    Prize Possessions

    AS THE TRAIN TRUNDLED INTO NEWCASTLE, I had a vision: A vast figure rose out of the gray mist. Its wings outstretched, it threatened to engulf me in a steely embrace. I’d encountered The Angel of the North.

    The rust-red sculpture might look like the stuff of legend, but it’s rooted in gritty reality. In another age, the northeast was Britain’s industrial powerhouse. Built by Antony Gormley in 1998, The Angel reminds visitors that coal miners once sweat where it stands.

    Gormley’s statue warned me, but my guide, Newcastle-based art historian Matthew Hearn, made the message clear: I was entering a