Prem Sahib’s sensual art
The London-based artist brings a subtle sexuality to everyday objects
Us Three II (2014)
When 31-year-old Prem Sahib exhibited his work at the Frieze Art Fair in 2013, it wasn’t in a white-cube gallery, but in a Soho nightclub modelled after his old bedroom. An earlier exhibition called ‘Night Flies’ included parts (a stomped-over mattress, a neon sign, a bar) from a “club night” he staged at the gallery. The unlikely settings when contrasted with personal objects created a strange sort of intimacy.
The Polish-Indian artist’s works – mainly sculptures – revolve around the personal and the domestic. His first solo exhibition in India, ‘Tongues’ (currently on at Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai) explores the idea of communication in the absence of language.
In a work titled ‘Insider’, Sahib uses two pieces of folded steel as a metaphor for the union of two bodies. Another piece called Your Shine comprises large white tiles, which are pierced with fake diamond earrings as though they were skin. “In many of the works in the show, materials are manipulated and personified. I feel this creates alternative ways for them to be read, which aren’t so literal, and perhaps more about a sensation that is mutual to the viewer.”
An undercurrent that appears often in his work is “sexuality, or rather, our experience of it”. In previous works he’s shown an aluminium panel flecked with droplets of resin to resemble a steamy bathroom wall, and empty hangers which stand in for naked bodies.
With usually no more than the gentlest, near-obtuse nudge toward deeper themes, his art has gotten him solo shows in Amsterdam and Rome, all before he even graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in June last year.
See why we’re excited about his India debut?
‘Tongues’ can be viewed at Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai, till May 17
Photograph courtesy Mark Blower
Only With Your Lights On (2014)