Hamra Abbas was born in Kuwait in 1976. She received her BFA and MA in Visual Arts from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 1999 and 2002 respectively before going on to the Universitaet der Kuenste in Berlin where she did the Meisterschueler in 2004.
Abbas' artistic practice draws from a myriad of sources and takes a diversity of forms. Her works originate from encounters and experiences - an image, icon or gesture - that are manipulated by the artist transforming its scale, function or medium. Her intention is to deconstruct the act of seeing by recreating images that form part of a collective memory. Unrestrained by subject matter or media, she takes an investigative approach to produce a diverse and holistic body of work addressing notions of cultural history, sexuality, violence, ornamentation, devotion and faith.
Recent solo exhibitions include: Open Cube, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, UAE, 2019; Gardens in Which Rivers Flow: Plastic Flowers and Everyday Miracles, Art Dubai with Canvas Gallery, Dubai, UAE, 2019; Colour, Canvas gallery, Karachi, Pakistan, 2017; Bodies, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, UAE, 2016; But Can You Show this in Pakistan? PILOT, Istanbul, Turkey, 2015; and, Kaaba Picture as a Misprint, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, UAE, 2014.
Her work has been exhibited as part of major group shows including: Gateway: Fragments, Yesterday and Today, Abu Dhabi Art Fair, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 2019; Second Karachi Biennale, Bagh Ibn e Qasim, Karachi, Pakistan, 2019; She Persists, Palazzo Benzon, Venice, Itally, 2019; Art Dubai Contemporary, with Lawrie Shabibi, UAE, 2018; Lahore Biennale, Pakistan, 2018; Global Control and Censorship, Galeria Arsenal, Bialystok, Poland, 2017; Karachi Biennale, Karachi, Pakistan, 2017; Sanctuary, FOR- SITE Foundation, San Francisco, USA, 2017-2018; Insights, Art Basel Hong Kong, with Lawrie Shabibi, 2017; The Making of an Institution, NTU CCA, Singapore, 2017; Text Edit, Mannhattan Bridge Anchorage, Brooklyn, New York, USA, 2016 ; Accademia di Brera, Milan, Italy, 2016; And Nothing but the Truth: Parrhesia II, KOEL Gallery, Karachi, Pakistan, 2015; and, Art Dubai Contemporary, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, UAE, 2015, amongst others.
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.
Her work is part of significant collections, including: the British Museum, London, UK; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas, USA; 21 C Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, 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; and, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Abbas currently lives and works between Lahore and Boston.