Carole Benzaken - Huma Bhabha

22 January - 17 April 2010 Charles Decoster - Brussels

Huma Bhabha

"Works on paper"
A complete artist, her work brings together sculptures, photographic works reworked with ink and works on paper, and evokes primitive art, rituals from other cultures or characters from post-apocalyptic tremors. His paintings retain a very mysterious aspect that one does not know if it is in the primitive era or on the contrary on the outskirts of a new world after a planetary destruction. They also exude a great spirituality.
In the hands of dʼHuma Bhabha, the original forms, a face, a body, are twisted, transformed into hybrid forms. The great originality of Bhabha's work lies in an almost religious sense given to her works, close to the Shamanism of Beuys, who also worked with very simple and meaningful materials. She also refers to Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem, Ozymandias, of which one interpretation of the sonnet is that time always wins, nature always prevails in the end. At the Nathalie Obadia Gallery in Brussels, painted photographs and works on paper will be exhibited, where we can feel Huma Bhabha's roots, Pakistan, whose ruins and desert she photographs and whose deep roots she claims. It is still an apocalyptic landscape on which she draws large colossal feet. Is it to show the rooting and the fossilization of cultures or is it the flight in front of the desolate landscapes? In her works, with intense and deep colors, Huma Bhabha, gives a great depth to the looks and to the half-human, half-simian faces.

Carole Benzaken

"Recent works"
Carole Benzaken's work is based on both a bank of images taken from the press and the media and on a base of personal films and photographs. Working at the same time in the depth of the painted picture, on the surface of the digital medium, the artist manages to stage a multiple theater, which works simultaneously the inside and the outside, the intimate and the surface, the collective code and the individual memory.
Abandoning the anthropomorphic markers of an overly static vision, she proposes an unprecedented visual logic, multiaxial, without hierarchy, open to the infinite while taking its source in the most intimate of the imagination.
A gaze of the lʼenvol, capable of mixing zooms and panoramic shots, realism and dream.
Where the cinematic model remained consistent with the rational structure of Western culture, which is constructed according to a narrative logic of cause and effect, from a beginning to an end, the rhizomatic matrix of digital flow exposes the navigator to unexpected intellectual logics. But Carole Benzaken does not ask the viewer to choose. On the contrary, she rather has the lʼair of taking note of an exciting period of mutation, which allows all hybridizations. If the work is careful to always surprise by never being quite where one
expected, it is built on the border between a cinematographic device inscribed in the unfolding and duration, and a screen device, which stratifies the visible, playing more with the optical thickness than with the depth
narrative. So much so that, on all sides, we find an oscillation between the image-movement, which threads from left to right and blurs the figure, and the image-screen, which weaves, braids, and opacifies itself by dint of adding layers in the imageʼs thickness.
So it is with the synthetic proposition of The Manna. Three screens arranged in a triptych broadcast the infinite sequence of a walk. A man progresses across the horizon of a landscape that hesitates between paradise and "no manʼs land," a border zone between sand and ocean. While the character's progression reconnects with the linearity of The Paint Roller, the fragmentation into three screens of this wandering recalls the modernist grid layout of Tulips or the By Night series, seeking to contain the fluidity of the digital present. But here, Carole Benzaken superimposes on the surface of her infinite unfolding a second grid, pictorial and random this one, which simultaneously perforates and covers the entire cinematic flow. Itʼs a whole aesthetic of the thickness of the digital image that is then revealed, to expose the narrative and rational illusions of an image built on a mimetic lie.
This back and forth between image-movement and image-screen becomes particularly operative in the confrontation between (Lost) Paradise and Zem. In one case, the viewer plunges deeper and deeper behind the wefts of paint that irrigate in random grids the surface of codified imagery, evoking both paradisiacal vacations and the colonial memory of the beaches of slavery. Painting becomes the surface and texture of memory, offering material to the translucent membrane of the historical repressed. In the other case, the viewer grapples with an elusive transience, which imposes a vertigo of the gaze and attacks the stability of the visible.
Something passes through the painting, which is no longer anything more than a “means of transportation.â The narrative drowns to such an extent in the vividness of the present, that it is no longer possible to understand where the instant comes from, or where it goes. All that remains in the eye is a retinal afterglow, entirely anchored in reference to a cinematic logic, which confesses its ineptitude in accounting for the present. Only a trace of paint remains, like an unforgettable yellow stain.

 Stéphanie Katz, 2009