The Contemporary Art Society has acquired Lubna Chowdhary’s Certain Times XXIV for Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery through the Jackson Tang Ceramic Award. Lubna Chowdhary’s shaped tiles, sculptural objects and spatial installations in ceramic constitute a distinctive oeuvre that bridges the disciplines of architecture, craft, design, sculpture and painting. Her colour-rich body of work explores and celebrates the plurality of our built environment. Histories of material culture and cross‐cultural confluence are examined to generate new forms that resist easy classification.
Her heritage – born in Tanzania to Pakistani parents who emigrated to the industrial north of England in the 1970s – brings with it the memory of richly designed spaces and diverse architectural landscapes. Subverting the traditional use of clay, Chowdhary merges ideas and aesthetics from Eastern and Western cultures to address the relationship between them.
The tableau Certain Times XXIV evokes the characteristically hybrid architecture of Asian and South Asian cities, their informal conjunctions of tradition and modernity, and the rational and spiritual. The work recalls a view of a distant cityscape, a world captured in space and existing across time. It brings together multiple, overlapping and intimately installed two‐dimensional forms that are often metaphorical, but sometimes reference memories of real objects, buildings and places. Special attention is paid to constructing, accumulating and composing elements. Their vibrant glazed surfaces carry the softness and irregularity of hand glazing which contrasts sharply with the technologically precise cut of the ceramic forms.
Chowdhary’s ceramic work will complement multiple objects in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s Fine and Decorative Art collections, such as the Stanley Sellers collection of studio pottery, Indian miniatures and pieces by Chowdhary’s tutor Eduardo Paolozzi.
Cross-disciplinary and de-colonial practice are at the heart of the museum’s new vision and Chowdhary’s vibrant transcultural work will echo the complexity and visual excitement of our shared lives in the UK today.
Lubna Chowdhary (b. 1964, Dodoma, Tanzania) lives and works in London. Recent group exhibitions include Green Art Gallery, Dubai (2020), Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai (both 2018); Manchester Art Gallery (2017). Solo shows include Art Basel Hong Kong (2019) and Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kerala (2018). In 2017 she was artist in residence at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.