Three solo exhibitions at DRAF explore the distinct practices of Charles Avery, Huma Bhabha and Abbas Akhavan. Each artist explores real and mythical territories, drawing on geographies and anthropologies including the Hebrides archipelago, Southern Pakistan and the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates in present-day Iraq. Their works propose a timely reflection on terrain and identity, migration and cultural diffusion.
Charles Avery, Untitled (The Ninth Resort), 2010 (detail). Courtesy the artist and David Roberts Collection, London.
The fifteenth edition of DRAF’s Study series looks in depth at the work of British artist Charles Avery (b. 1973, Oban, UK). The exhibition presents a range of drawings, sculptures and posters looking at the regions, population and customs of ‘The Island’, the epic fiction to which Avery has devoted his practice since 2004. At its centre is a spectacular large-scale pencil and ink drawing made in 2010 which depicts an intricate Island dock scene, Untitled (The Ninth Resort). The final room collates materials selected by the artist to make visible his broad studio practice, including furniture, designed wallpaper, books, maquettes, sketches and texts. Although rooted in Avery’s own upbringing on the Scottish island Mull, the landscape, architecture and anthropology of The Island are evolved through diverse mathematical and philosophical systems. A new text by writer and curator Nicolas Bourriaud is commissioned for the project, looking in depth at Untitled (The Ninth Resort).
Study #16 looks in depth at the sculpture What is Love, 2013, by New York-based Pakistani artist Huma Bhabha (b. 1962, Karachi, Pakistan) from the David Roberts Collection. The work comprises a white polystyrene bust painted with acrylic paint, oil stick and lipstick, atop a tall square cork column. The column’s four faces are carved in shallow relief; front, side and rear views of a grotesque figure with elongated breasts, torso, arms, fingers and legs. Drawing from diverse ancient and contemporary sources – from science-fiction to Picasso to African tribal sculpture – Bhabha’s totemic figure is universal rather than illustrative.
And variations on a garden is a solo exhibition by Iranian-Canadian artist Abbas Akhavan (b. 1977, Tehran, Iran) in DRAF Studio. The sculptural installation Study for a Monument (2013–15) presents a series of bronze plants laid out on white cotton sheets. These are the forms of native species from the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, the area where the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon are presumed to have been built and which was and subsequently ravaged by Saddam Hussein’s 1990s campaign against the Marsh Arabs and the Iraq wars. Texts by Francisco-Fernando Granados and Georgina Jackson accompany the exhibition.
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