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Zarina Bhimji

Zarina Bhimji

Zarina Bhimji is an acclaimed Indian Ugandan artist, based in London, working across a range of media, particularly photography, film, and installation. She explores the idea of place through a new lens that is at a distance removed from mere historical documentation. Bhimji poetically reveals layered histories and the hidden human stories held within physical spaces, both landscapes and architecture, by revealing new ways of seeing them, especially the places that are crucial to her own story: India, East Africa, and the UK.

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NEWS

Whitechapel Gallery Appoints Gilane Tawadros As New Director

Whitechapel Gallery Appoints Gilane Tawadros As New Director

Artlyst · 16 May, 2022 @ 21:31

Tawadros is currently Chief Executive of DACS, a not-for-profit visual artists’ rights management organisation, and previously founding Director of the Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva); Tawadros will take up her post in October 2022.

Iwona Blazwick Quits As Director of Whitechapel – London Art Fair Postpones Event Until April – New Director For The ICA Announced

Iwona Blazwick Quits As Director of Whitechapel – London Art Fair Postpones Event Until April – New Director For The ICA Announced

Artlyst · 06 Jan, 2022 @ 08:13

Iwona Blazwick Quits As Director of Whitechapel - London Art Fair Postpones Event Until April - New Director For The ICA Announced

Achim Borchardt-Hume, Tate curator, 1965–2021

Achim Borchardt-Hume, Tate curator, 1965–2021

05 Nov, 2021 @ 02:35

The curator had recently opened Anicka Yi’s commission for the London institution’s Turbine Hall, and The Making of Rodin, which focused on the French sculptor’s plaster works.

 

About the Artist

Zarina Bhimji is an acclaimed Indian Ugandan artist, based in London, working across a range of media, particularly photography, film, and installation. She explores the idea of place through a new lens that is at a distance removed from mere historical documentation. Bhimji poetically reveals layered histories and the hidden human stories held within physical spaces, both landscapes and architecture, by revealing new ways of seeing them, especially the places that are crucial to her own story: India, East Africa, and the UK.

Born in Mbarara, Uganda to Indian parents in 1963, Zarina Bhimji was raised among multiple cultures and worlds. Her family emigrated to Britain in 1974 when she was 11 years, shortly after Uganda’s Asian community was expelled from the country under military dictator Idi Amin. Bhimji went on to attain degrees from both Goldsmiths’ College and the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL in London, holding her first solo show at the Tom Allen Community Art Centre, London in 1989.

Bhimji’s work has always been rooted in intense research, and she often investigates historical texts, from official archival records to legal documents, and conducts interviews to inform her work. However, she sees herself not as a documentarian but as an artist who enables new interpretations of history through an aesthetic lens, putting myths and accepted versions of reality to the test through close looking. She works intuitively to approach each scene uniquely, carefully composing images to draw out the minute details of a place that reveal its past and present.

Walls are a recurring theme in Bhimji’s art, viewing them as absorbing human traces, both physical and ephemeral, over the course of history, like silent observers. In this way, Bhimji is able to evoke a human presence in her works despite a conspicuous lack of human figures from most of her images. In 2007, her exhibition of five photographs and a film, Waiting, was shortlisted for the Turner Prize. The photographs, all taken in Uganda, examined the traces of humans left behind on buildings and the landscape after Idi Amin’s 1972 expulsion of Asians. In their absence, the missing human subjects speak volumes, with each image powerfully conveying raw human emotions of grief, loss, longing, or hope. Bhimji skilfully draws out these kinds of emotions in all of her works, imbuing the historical record with a deep sense of humanity.

In confronting the human reliance on written narrative through her evocative, sensory works, Bhimji often challenges historical assertions and infuses her work with political commentary. Her most recent major commission, Lead White (2018), for the Sharjah Art Foundation, spans ten years of extensive travel and research exploring the colonial enterprise and its vast impact through the mediums of colour and light. For the first time, Bhimji incorporated embroidery into her practice, speaking to her constantly evolving practice and the tactility with which she is able to convey the human record.

Bhimji travels to the very essence of human experience, capturing the ephemeral and emotional through the material and weaving stories that expand beyond the capabilities of the written word. Her work engages the viewer in a deeply sensory way through image, colour, light, and sound, drawing them in with immediacy to reshape the present moment by reframing the past.

Interested in Zarina Bhimji?