Hamra Abbas Pakistani , b. 1976


Hamra Abbas received formal training in sculpture and Indo-Persian style of miniature painting at the National College of Arts in Lahore. Departing from this traditional background, Abbas integrates contemporary mediums like digital art, installation and performance into her art. Throughout her artistic journey, she delves into the physical manifestations of faith, ritual, and tradition.


The artist's pluri-disciplinary practice initially encapsulates the delicate interplay of vulnerability and fragility within her work. Her approach first draws inspiration from the various locations she has resided in, including Berlin and Boston. As an immigrant, she embodies a fleeting state reflected in the ephemeral, weightless quality of her work, reminiscent of paper or live performances. This quality not only renders her creations easily transportable but also underscores their fleeting existence. In 2015, upon returning to Pakistan, her homeland, a profound shift occurred. Her art evolved from this transient phase to embrace a more permanent production, mirroring her journey back to her roots. Her return to Pakistan inspired her to incorporate marble inlay, drawn from the local context of marble factories, adding a new dimension to her artistic expression. This transition signifies a pivotal moment where the impermanence gave way to permanence, invoking a sense of stability and belonging inherent to her home and heritage. 

Today, her artistic practice draws inspiration from the concept of a garden—an emblem of ecology, environment, and a metaphorical allusion to the garden of paradise. This evolution reflects a deeper connection to her surroundings, entwining her art with themes of nature and the environment. Her new body of work blossoms with cascading waterfalls, towering trees, and intricate depiction of flowers, each element a part of her garden, whether standing individually or interwoven in larger, harmonious compositions. These patterns—reminiscent of Mughal gardens and the vibrant colors emblematic of the region's rich culture—adorn the marble inlays, evoking a sense of serenity and wonder. As part of her research and practice, Hamra has been documenting the northern regions of Pakistan, which include a recent journey to the base camp of K2, a nod to South Asia's majestic landscapes. At the heart of it all lies something deeply intimate and autobiographical, where every creation springs forth from a personal narrative, inviting viewers into the artist's inner world.


Hamra Abbas (Pakistani, b. 1976, Kuwait) received her BFA and MA in Visual Arts from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 1999 and 2002 respectively before attending Universitaet der Kuenste in Berlin where she did the Meisterschueler in 2004.  


She has exhibited internationally with recent solo exhibitions including: Frieze Seoul with Lawrie Shabibi, Focus Asia sector, Seoul, South Korea (2023); COLOR | GARDEN, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, 2022; Color Wheel, Canvas gallery, Karachi, 2021; Every Colour is a Shade of Black, COMO Museum of Art, Lahore, 2020; Open Cube, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, 2019; Gardens in Which Rivers Flow: Plastic Flowers and Everyday Miracles, Art Dubai with Canvas Gallery, Dubai, 2019; Color, Canvas gallery, Karachi, 2017; Bodies, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, 2016; But Can You Show this in Pakistan? PILOT, Istanbul, 2015; and, Kaaba Picture as a Misprint, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, 2014. 


Her work has been exhibited as part of numerous group shows including, most recently: Highlights, Ithra Museum, King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Dhahran, KSA, 2023; Beyond the Page: South Asian Miniature Painting and Britain, 1600 to Now, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK, 2023 ; Brand New Ancients, Misk Art Institute, Riyadh, KSA, 2023; STILL, LIFE! MOURNING, MEANING, MENDING, 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas, USA, 2023; Flowers: Gardens of Paradise 2, Art Mill Museum, Al Najada Heritage House #15, Doha, Qatar, 2022; Ornamenting Relation, Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto, Mississauga, Canada, 2022Art Dubai Contemporary, with Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, 2022; Precaution, ARTER, Istanbul, Turkey, 2021; Tonight No Poetry Will Serve, Barefoot Gallery, Colombo, 2021; Under Construction, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, 2021; Art Dubai Contemporary, with Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, 2021; Gateway: Fragments, Yesterday and Today, Abu Dhabi Art Fair, Abu Dhabi, 2019; Second Karachi Biennale, Bagh Ibn e Qasim, Karachi, 2019; She Persists, Palazzo Benzon, Venice (2019); Art Dubai Contemporary, with Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, 2018; Lahore Biennale, Lahore, 2018; Global Control and Censorship, Galeria Arsenal, Bialystok, 2017; Karachi Biennale, Karachi, 2017;  Sanctuary, FOR-SITE Foundation, San Francisco, 2017; Insights, Art Basel Hong Kong, with Lawrie Shabibi, 2017.


Abbas is an Honoree of the Asia Arts Game Changer Awards 2021. She is the recipient of the Jury prize at Sharjah Biennial 9, the Abraaj Capital Art Prize in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Jameel Prize in 2009.


In 2021, Abbas presented Garden (2021) - a large-scale public art intervention commissioned under the Expo 2020 Dubai Public Art Programme, and intended to remain on site as part of the future city of District 2020.


Her work is part of significant collections, including: the British Museum, London, UK; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas, USA; 21c Museum Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky, USA; Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio, USA; Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, USA; USA Art In Embassies Collection, USA; Burger Collection, Hong Kong; Koç Foundation, Istanbul, Turkey; Borusan Foundation, Istanbul, Turkey; Kadist Collection, Paris, France; Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels, Belgium; Devi Art Foundation, Guragon, India; Kiran Nader Museum of Art, New Delhi, India; King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), Saudi Arabia;  Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, UAE; Art Jameel Collection, Dubai, UAE; Zayed National Museum, UAE; Qatar Museums, Doha, Qatar; Dubai Collection, Dubai, UAE; EXPO 2020, Dubai, UAE. 


Abbas currently lives and works between Lahore and Boston.