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Once religious identity has begun to matter, the point is to make it matter in a conscious and dialectical way, as a play of contradictions where the carefully honed and regardful actors transcend the play with the aid of history itself.  Rummana is one such actor. And hereby she not only pitches her identity for display, she constructs a public space for debate. 

Geeta Kapur

Rummana Hussain - Artists - Talwar Gallery

Home/Nation, 1996 (detail)

Rummana Hussain's oeuvre exists in two parts—one, her early figural works on canvas and paper from the 1980s, and the other her pioneering installations, sculptures and performance works that were among the first in India. During the early 1990s Hussain increasingly turned away from the materials of traditional "high" art, appropriating the material of domestic work—gheru, indigo, terracotta—as creative tools. Digging past the archaic symbolisms that at the time surrounded the female body - woman as a pure virgin, as the body of a new Indian nation state, as mother-guider—Rummana presented a view of the individual woman, in all her complexities. The arc that began with these works accelerated with the social and communal unrests of the time. Hussain’s growing comfort with plurality allowed her to further embark on multi-layered explorations of the marginalized while employing a diversity of mediums including her own body. These seminal works of Hussain - bold, poignant, and provoking, are as relevant and essential today as they were when created almost a quarter-century ago.

“Rummana’s work investigates more than just one level of experience. At it's core is her protest at the intentional subversion of a particular culture, community and gender to a patriarchally and politically hegemonic agenda.”

“Rummana places herself in the space of a possible loss of that future which the earlier form of secularism celebrates. One might even say that with help of her own body she proposes to suture the social wound.”

Geeta Kapur

Rummana Hussain - Artists - Talwar Gallery

Rummana Hussain was born in Bangalore, India in 1952 and passed away in 1999 in Mumbai, India.

Hussain's works have been on view at various institutions around the world including Tate Modern, London, UK; 3rd Asia Pacific Triennale, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia; Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), New Delhi, India; Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, CA, US; Museum Abteiberg, Germany; Smart Museum, Chicago, IL, US; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; Asia Society, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Monterrey, Mexico; Rose Art Museum, Brandeis, MA. In 1998 Rummana was Artist in Residence at Art in General, New York.

Rummana’s works were featured in the India Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019.

Selected Works

Selected Works Thumbnails
Textured Terrain, 1997
Performance
Textured Terrain, 1997
Textured Terrain, 1997
Textured Terrain, 1997
Textured Terrain, 1997
Performance

Textured Terrain, 1997
Performance

The Tomb of Begum Hazrat Mahal, 1997
Iron, metal, plaster of paris, rice, white clay, photographs, incense sticks, strings, roses, leaves, cloth
The Tomb of Begum Hazrat Mahal (Detail)
The Tomb of Begum Hazrat Mahal (Detail)
The Tomb of Begum Hazrat Mahal (Detail)
The Tomb of Begum Hazrat Mahal, 1997
Iron, metal, plaster of paris, rice, white clay, photographs, incense sticks, strings, roses, leaves, cloth

The Tomb of Begum Hazrat Mahal, 1997
Iron, metal, plaster of paris, rice, white clay, photographs, incense sticks, strings, roses, leaves, cloth

Home/Nation, 1996
Home/Nation, 1996 (detail)
Home/Nation (Detail)
Home/Nation (Detail)
Home/Nation (Detail)
Home/Nation, 1996

Home/Nation, 1996

Fragment from Splitting, 1993

Mirror, Terracotta, Gheru, and Brick

32" x 41" x 10"

Fragment from Splitting, 1993

Mirror, Terracotta, Gheru, and Brick

32" x 41" x 10"

Conflux, 1993

Wood, Paint on Acrylic, Gheru and Terracotta

24" x 30"

Conflux, 1993

Wood, Paint on Acrylic, Gheru and Terracotta

24" x 30"

Dissected Projection, 1993

Wood, Mirror, Terracotta, Acrylic

Dissected Projection, 1993

Wood, Mirror, Terracotta, Acrylic

Is it what you think? 1998
Is it what you think?
Is it what you think? 1998

Is it what you think? 1998

Living on the Margins, 1995
Still from Performance at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai

Living on the Margins, 1995
Still from Performance at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai

Electric Womb, 1994
Wood, Acrylic Sheet, Light and PVC Tubes
28” x 28”x 6.5”

Electric Womb, 1994
Wood, Acrylic Sheet, Light and PVC Tubes
28” x 28”x 6.5”

Hyperbolic Device, 1993
Wood, PVC Tubes, Lights, Kidney Tray and Mirror
72” x 36” x 30”
 
Hyperbolic Device 
 
Hyperbolic Device 
Hyperbolic Device, 1993
Wood, PVC Tubes, Lights, Kidney Tray and Mirror
72” x 36” x 30”
 

Hyperbolic Device, 1993
Wood, PVC Tubes, Lights, Kidney Tray and Mirror
72” x 36” x 30”
 

Earth Picture, 1993
Ink on cut acrylic, terracotta, earth pigment and iron nails on board
48 1/2 x 36 1/2"
Earth Picture, 1993
Earth Picture, 1993
Ink on cut acrylic, terracotta, earth pigment and iron nails on board
48 1/2 x 36 1/2"

Earth Picture, 1993
Ink on cut acrylic, terracotta, earth pigment and iron nails on board
48 1/2 x 36 1/2"

Movement, 1993

Charcoal and earth pigment on paper

15” x 16.5", 14” x 18”, 18" x 14”/ In 3 parts
Movement, 1993 (detail)
Movement, 1993 (detail)
Movement, 1993 (detail)
Movement, 1993

Charcoal and earth pigment on paper

15” x 16.5", 14” x 18”, 18" x 14”/ In 3 parts

Movement, 1993

Charcoal and earth pigment on paper

15” x 16.5", 14” x 18”, 18" x 14”/ In 3 parts

Bodyscape, 1993
Charcoal and earth pigment on paper
23.75" x 28.25" 
Bodyscape (Detail)
Bodyscape, 1993
Charcoal and earth pigment on paper
23.75" x 28.25" 

Bodyscape, 1993
Charcoal and earth pigment on paper
23.75" x 28.25" 

Strung, 1993

Earth pigment and charcoal on crushed paper

23 1/2” x 28”  

Strung, 1993

Earth pigment and charcoal on crushed paper

23 1/2” x 28”  

Dissemination, 1993

Indigo and earth pigment, ink, charcoal and print on paper

26 3/4" x 31 1/2”
Dissemination, 1993 (detail)
Dissemination, 1993 (detail)
Dissemination, 1993

Indigo and earth pigment, ink, charcoal and print on paper

26 3/4" x 31 1/2”

Dissemination, 1993

Indigo and earth pigment, ink, charcoal and print on paper

26 3/4" x 31 1/2”

Tower of Babel, 1993

Terracotta and print on plexi, acrylic, indigo, earth pigment, pastel and print on plastic, pasted on board

26 3/4" x 21 3/4"
Tower of Babel (Detail)
Tower of Babel, 1993

Terracotta and print on plexi, acrylic, indigo, earth pigment, pastel and print on plastic, pasted on board

26 3/4" x 21 3/4"

Tower of Babel, 1993

Terracotta and print on plexi, acrylic, indigo, earth pigment, pastel and print on plastic, pasted on board

26 3/4" x 21 3/4"

Love over reason, 1993
Love over reason, 1993

Charcoal and earth pigment on folded paper

16 1/4" x 23 1/4"   
Love over reason, 1993

Indigo pigment and charcoal on folded paper

16 1/4” x 23 1/4”
Love over reason, 1993

Indigo and earth pigment, charcoal on folded paper

19 1/2" x 24 3/4"
Love over reason, 1993

Love over reason, 1993

Behind a thin film, 1993
Mixed media
Behind a thin film (Detail)
Behind a thin film (Detail)
Behind a thin film, 1993
Mixed media

Behind a thin film, 1993
Mixed media

Tunnel Echoes, 1994

Mixed media

Tunnel Echoes, 1994

Mixed media

Tunnel Echoes, 1994

Tunnel Echoes, 1994

Textured Terrain, 1997
Performance

Textured Terrain, 1997
Performance

The Tomb of Begum Hazrat Mahal, 1997
Iron, metal, plaster of paris, rice, white clay, photographs, incense sticks, strings, roses, leaves, cloth

The Tomb of Begum Hazrat Mahal, 1997
Iron, metal, plaster of paris, rice, white clay, photographs, incense sticks, strings, roses, leaves, cloth

Home/Nation, 1996

Home/Nation, 1996

Fragment from Splitting, 1993

Mirror, Terracotta, Gheru, and Brick

32" x 41" x 10"

Fragment from Splitting, 1993

Mirror, Terracotta, Gheru, and Brick

32" x 41" x 10"

Conflux, 1993

Wood, Paint on Acrylic, Gheru and Terracotta

24" x 30"

Conflux, 1993

Wood, Paint on Acrylic, Gheru and Terracotta

24" x 30"

Dissected Projection, 1993

Wood, Mirror, Terracotta, Acrylic

Dissected Projection, 1993

Wood, Mirror, Terracotta, Acrylic

Is it what you think? 1998

Is it what you think? 1998

Living on the Margins, 1995
Still from Performance at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai

Living on the Margins, 1995
Still from Performance at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai

Electric Womb, 1994
Wood, Acrylic Sheet, Light and PVC Tubes
28” x 28”x 6.5”

Electric Womb, 1994
Wood, Acrylic Sheet, Light and PVC Tubes
28” x 28”x 6.5”

Hyperbolic Device, 1993
Wood, PVC Tubes, Lights, Kidney Tray and Mirror
72” x 36” x 30”
 

Hyperbolic Device, 1993
Wood, PVC Tubes, Lights, Kidney Tray and Mirror
72” x 36” x 30”
 

Earth Picture, 1993
Ink on cut acrylic, terracotta, earth pigment and iron nails on board
48 1/2 x 36 1/2"

Earth Picture, 1993
Ink on cut acrylic, terracotta, earth pigment and iron nails on board
48 1/2 x 36 1/2"

Movement, 1993

Charcoal and earth pigment on paper

15” x 16.5", 14” x 18”, 18" x 14”/ In 3 parts

Movement, 1993

Charcoal and earth pigment on paper

15” x 16.5", 14” x 18”, 18" x 14”/ In 3 parts

Bodyscape, 1993
Charcoal and earth pigment on paper
23.75" x 28.25" 

Bodyscape, 1993
Charcoal and earth pigment on paper
23.75" x 28.25" 

Strung, 1993

Earth pigment and charcoal on crushed paper

23 1/2” x 28”  

Strung, 1993

Earth pigment and charcoal on crushed paper

23 1/2” x 28”  

Dissemination, 1993

Indigo and earth pigment, ink, charcoal and print on paper

26 3/4" x 31 1/2”

Dissemination, 1993

Indigo and earth pigment, ink, charcoal and print on paper

26 3/4" x 31 1/2”

Tower of Babel, 1993

Terracotta and print on plexi, acrylic, indigo, earth pigment, pastel and print on plastic, pasted on board

26 3/4" x 21 3/4"

Tower of Babel, 1993

Terracotta and print on plexi, acrylic, indigo, earth pigment, pastel and print on plastic, pasted on board

26 3/4" x 21 3/4"

Love over reason, 1993

Love over reason, 1993

Behind a thin film, 1993
Mixed media

Behind a thin film, 1993
Mixed media

Tunnel Echoes, 1994

Mixed media

Tunnel Echoes, 1994

Mixed media

Tunnel Echoes, 1994

Tunnel Echoes, 1994

Rummana Hussain
Rummana Hussain
The Tomb of Begum Hazrat Mahal Institute of Arab and Islamic Art, New York November 3, 2022 - April 30, 2023
RUMMANA HUSSAIN
RUMMANA HUSSAIN
Our time for a future sharing 58th Venice Biennale, India Pavilion, Italy May 11 – November 24, 2019
RUMMANA HUSSAIN
RUMMANA HUSSAIN
Breaking Skin Talwar Gallery, New York January 9 – February 20, 2016
RUMMANA HUSSAIN
RUMMANA HUSSAIN
Breaking Skin Talwar Gallery, New Delhi September 30 - December 19, 2015
RUMMANA HUSSAIN
RUMMANA HUSSAIN
Talwar Gallery, New York January 13 - February 25, 2012
RUMMANA HUSSAIN
RUMMANA HUSSAIN
Fortitude from Fragments Talwar Gallery, New Delhi September 25 - December 4, 2010
The New York Times
The New York Times
Rummana Hussain | The Tomb of Begum Hazrat Mahal @ IAIA Through April 30, 2023
The AMP - Asian American Arts Alliance
The AMP - Asian American Arts Alliance
Rummana Hussain's Ode to Revolutionary Muslim Women January 17, 2023
Art India
Art India
Rummana Hussain: Look Back in Anger August 2019
Artforum
Artforum
Rummana Hussain January 2016
Artforum
Artforum
Critic's Pick: Rummana Hussain November 2015
Mint
Mint
Open Wounds October 2015
Art Asia Pacific
Art Asia Pacific
Rummana Hussain September/October 2014
Art Asia Pacific
Art Asia Pacific
The Sketch: Rummana Hussain August 2014
Art Fair
Art Fair
a dialogue through diffracted traces... January 2012
Time Out New Delhi
Time Out New Delhi
The broken vessel November 2010
The Asian Age
The Asian Age
Looking for meaning in myriad December 2009
The New York Times
The New York Times
Rummana Hussain, 47, Indian Conceptual Artist July 18, 1999
Art India
Art India
The Courage of Being Rummana July 1999
The New York Times
The New York Times
Art in Review: Rummana Hussain October 16, 1998
Third Text
Third Text
Telling Tales 1998
Art Asia Pacific
Art Asia Pacific
Home Nation January 1997
The Asian Age
The Asian Age
Home Nation-An Installation by Rummana Hussain April 19, 1996
Roshan Shahani
Roshan Shahani
Ways of Seeing in '94 December 1994
The Indian Express
The Indian Express
Domesticity Soaked in the Mood Indigo September 1, 1994
Times of India
Times of India
The Metaphor Survives April 17, 1994
The Independent
The Independent
What's a Bicycle doing in the Art Gallery? March 30, 1994
The Pioneer
The Pioneer
Forms in Gay Abandon 1994