Hamra Abbas, Winning Artist, Abraaj Group Art Prize 2011
Woman in Black, Stained glass window, 3 panels, 264 x 43 cm (each)
Installed within a darkened chamber, Woman in Black depicts the iconic image of a fictional super-heroine. The illustrations are reminiscent of Mogul miniature painting, but their form echoes traditional stained glass technique, prevalent in the Middle Ages. Stained glass originally had a clear didactic function and was used to depict narratives from the Bible to a largely illiterate populace.
Seen from inside a place of worship, such windows were deliberately intended to focus the attention of the congregation on the sacred image during the sermon. The interplay of light and dark serve as metaphors for good and evil and are deliberately employed by Abbas to accentuate the mysterious powers of the female figure enshrined within the glass, placed in the centre of a scene of conflict, suggestive of the worldly realities of contemporary society.
Abbas playfully adapts an illuminated painting into an illuminated window, whose image by design, comes and goes with the fading of the day.
Hamra Abbas lives and works between Islamabad and Boston. Abbas has a versatile practice that straddles a wide range of media. Drawing upon culturally loaded imagery and iconography, in an often playful manner, Abbas appropriates and transforms traditional motifs and styles to examine questions of conflict within society.
She has held several international solo exhibitions that include Cityscape, OUTLET Independent Art Space, Istanbul (2010); Adventures of the Woman in Black, Green Cardamom (2008); God Grows on Trees, Schultz Contemporary, Berlin (2008) and Lessons on Love, Rohtas 2, Lahore (2006).
Her work has also been included in the 9th Sharjah Biennial (2009); the International Incheon Women Artists Biennale (2009): Thessaloniki Biennale (2009); Guangzou Triennial (2008); Istanbul Biennial (2007) and Sydney Biennale (2006). In 2009 Abbas was awarded the Jury Prize at the 9th Sharjah Biennial and was shortlisted for the inaugural Jameel Prize. She is represented by PILOT, Istanbul and Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai.