Artist Prem Sahib exhibits for the first time in Mumbai – in pictures

British-Indian artist Prem Sahib has his first solo exhibition in India.

Jhaveri Contemporary gallery in Mumbai is holding British-Indian artist Prem Sahib’s first solo exhibition in India, from 10 April to 17 May 2014. The emerging artist works in an abstract and minimalist style that subtly references notions of intimacy, sexuality, relationships, desire and community.

Prem Sahib, "Tongues", installation view at Jhaveri Contemporary, Mummbai. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view at Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Using space: Minimalism and detachment

Tongues” at Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai, is Prem Sahib’s first solo exhibition in India to date. Sahib’s practice is one of abstraction and minimalism, and he has been known to exhibit in domestic spaces, inviting audiences to seek the artworks out from amongst the surrounding everyday objects.

Prem Sahib, 'Browser', 2014, aluminium, acrylic, 11 x 100 x 0.5cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, ‘Browser’, 2014, aluminium, acrylic, 11 x 100 x 0.5 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

For his solo exhibition in Mumbai, Sahib has created a body of work that is, like all his creations, formally clean and precise, abstract and minimalist. However, his sculptures and paintings all subtly reference convictions about intimacy, sexuality, relationships, desire and community through their apparent distance and coldness.

Prem Sahib, "Tongues", installation view. Left to right: 'Us Three II', 2014, steel, paint, 10 x 40 x 10 cm; 'Only With Your Lights On', 2014, steel, crash mat, candles, ashtray, 210 x 130 x 80 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view. Left to right: ‘Us Three II’, 2014, steel, paint, 10 x 40 x 10 cm; ‘Only With Your Lights On’, 2014, steel, crash mat, candles, ashtray, 210 x 130 x 80 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Like the rest of his oeuvre, the work in this show also draws upon the artist’s continued interest in communal and popular environments such as public bathrooms and nightclubs. The latter were particularly prevalent in his latest solo exhibition at Southard Reid, London, entitled “Night Flies” (2013), in which Sahib transformed the gallery space into a private club for one night, projecting a sense of detachment and boredom, intended as a “hangover”.

Prem Sahib, 'Us Three II', 2014, steel, paint, 10 x 40 x 10cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, ‘Us Three II’, 2014, steel, paint, 10 x 40 x 10 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Sahib’s work in “Tongues”, explains the press release, “alludes to the gendered spaces in which the body is enacted upon”, and the artist deals with notions of encounter and presence – the physical, the body.

Prem Sahib, "Tongues", installation view. Foreground to background: 'Only With Your Lights On', 2014, steel, crash mat, candles, ashtray, 210 x 130 x 80 cm; 'Me Time', 2014, resin, anodized aluminium, 40 x 35 cm; 'Tongues', 2014, digital print, 45 x 32 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view. Foreground to background: ‘Only With Your Lights On’, 2014, steel, crash mat, candles, ashtray, 210 x 130 x 80 cm; ‘Me Time’, 2014, resin, anodised aluminium, 40 x 35 cm; ‘Tongues’, 2014, digital print, 45 x 32 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

“Communication in the absence of language”

The exhibition further explores issues of continued interest to the artist, such as the “evocation of emotion” through minimal but often suggestive or personified arrangements. His discrete sculptures are set up in the gallery space as though in dialogue with one another.

This dialogue becomes more apparent when considering the starting point of the exhibition: an anatomical and rhetorical form – the tongue. According to the press release, the show puts forth the idea of

communication in the absence of language, as well a more physical intermingling – one that is channeled through an avowed ambition for the works to be ‘talking to themselves’.

Prem Sahib, "Tongues", installation view. Right: 'Tongues', 2014, digital print, 75 x 56 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view. Right: ‘Tongues’, 2014, digital print, 75 x 56 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

At first, Sahib’s works appear to be muted and cold, almost enhancing the surrounding void. But upon a closer observation of their mutual relationships and their presence within the space as a whole, it is possible to understand the underlying references made by the artist. As the press release states:

With an emphasis on what appears to be formal relationships of sameness, Sahib’s work pointedly offers more promiscuous interpretations and deviations of meaning.

Prem Sahib, "Tongues", installation view. Foreground to background: 'Only With Your Lights On', 2014; 'Us Three II', 2014; 'Insider', 2014. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view. Foreground to background: ‘Only With Your Lights On’, 2014; ‘Us Three II’, 2014; ‘Insider’, 2014. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Throughout the exhibition, the works offer macro and micro views juxtaposed with one another that question the perception of the viewer’s own body by creating constant shifts in scale between large spaces or installations, small miniature details, and mirrored artworks.

Prem Sahib, 'Insider', 2014, steel, paint, polished steel, 10 x 30 x 10cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, ‘Insider’, 2014, steel, paint, polished steel, 10 x 30 x 10 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

In his work Insider (2014), comprising two intersecting steel disks, the artist speaks of union as well as individual capacity through the piece’s partly mirrored surface.

Prem Sahib, "Toungues", installation view (foreground to background): 'Your Shine 1', 2014, jesmonite, paint, fake diamond earrings, 100 x 100cm; 'Your Shine II', 2014, jesmonite, paint, fake diamond earrings, 100 x 100cm; 'Up Now', 2014, perspex, steel, fabric, 47 x 40cm; 'Us Three II', 2014, steel, paint, 10 x 40 x 10cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view (foreground to background): ‘Your Shine I’, 2014, Jesmonite, paint, fake diamond earrings, 100 x 100 cm; ‘Your Shine II’, 2014, Jesmonite, paint, fake diamond earrings, 100 x 100 cm; ‘Up Now’, 2014, perspex, steel, fabric, 47 x 40 cm; ‘Us Three II’, 2014, steel, paint, 10 x 40 x 10 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Your Shine (2014) presents a pierced white surface, with fake diamond earrings piercing the enlarged tiles as if they were skin.

Prem Sahib, "Tongues", installation view. Left to right: 'Only With Your Lights On', 2014, steel, crash mat, candles, ashtray, 210 x 130 x 80 cm; 'Us three II', 2014; 'Insider', 2014. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view. Left to right: ‘Only With Your Lights On’, 2014, steel, crash mat, candles, ashtray, 210 x 130 x 80 cm; ‘Us three II’, 2014; ‘Insider’, 2014. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Only With Your Light On (2014) is modeled on a piece of steel furniture from a nightclub in Berlin. The sculpture mediates two views: an object being looked at, and a vantage point to look from. The object is precarious and flimsy, but creates a presence that equals that of a body. Lit candles placed on its metal framework suggest a desire to be tended to.

Prem Sahib, "Tongues", installation view. Foreground to background: 'Only With Your Lights On', 2014; 'Us Three II', 2014; 'Insider', 2014. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view. Foreground to background: ‘Only With Your Lights On’, 2014; ‘Us Three II’, 2014; ‘Insider’, 2014. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

More about the artist

Prem Sahib was born in the United Kingdom in 1982 to an Indian father and a Polish mother. He graduated from the Slade School of Art in 2006 and the Royal Academy Schools in 2013. Sahib has exhibited extensively throughout Europe since 2005. He currently resides and works in London.

 C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Related Topics: Indian artists, gallery shows, picture feasts, minimalist art, abstract art, events in Mumbai

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