Uman: Darling sweetie, sweetie darling 30th January – 1st April 2024 Hauser & Wirth London 23 Savile Row London W1S 2ET
Uman‘s Darling sweetie, sweetie darling is her first exhibition with Hauser & Wirth following the announcement of the gallery’s representation of the artist in equal partnership with Nicola Vassell Gallery, NY will open in London. Uman’s ebullient visual vocabulary reflects her expansive cross-cultural experiences. Born in Somalia and raised in Kenya, she emigrated to Denmark as a teenager and later to New York as a young adult. Now living and working in upstate New York, Uman paints lavishly detailed, opulently colored worlds replete with gesture, geometry and evocations of the sublime. While these works are executed primarily with oil paint, she also combines acrylic paint, oil stick and collage techniques.
An intuitive artist and voracious autodidact, Uman draws upon her memories of her East African childhood, rigorous education in traditional Arabic calligraphy, deep engagement with dreams and fascination with kaleidoscopic color and design. With nods to self-portraiture and fictional topographies, Uman’s paintings fluidly navigate in-between realms to explore both the physical and spiritual, intertwining abstraction, figuration, meditative patterning and a reverence for the natural world.
Uman was born in Somalia in 1980. She moved with her family to Kenya in 1989 as a result of the Somali Civil War, before relocating to Denmark at the age of 13. From an early age, Uman loved to draw and was fascinated by color and illustration. In the 2000s, when in her 20s, Uman moved to New York City. There, she met Swiss-born, Manhattan-based psychiatrist Annatina Miescher, who encouraged the artist’s intuitive approach to painting and served as a mentor.
In 2015, Uman’s first solo exhibition opened at White Columns, attracting significant attention for her paintings, sculptures and assemblage works that dazzled with their unorthodox and wholly original approach to layering cross-cultural, art historical and textile-based references. As poet and critic Ilka Scobie explained, ‘[Uman] embodies a fluidity that transcends borders, genders, abstraction, and figuration’.
Uman’s work synthesizes the various cultures in which she has lived, with her experiences finding their way into recurring motifs: animals of the East African desert, patterns evoking Somalian hand-woven fabrics, Nordic environments from her time in Denmark, the urban landscape of Manhattan, the starry skies in upstate New York. Since 2020, Uman has divided her time between Albany and the rural community of Roseboom, places that together form the center of her life and work. The natural world continues to directly inform her art through the physical and psychological shifts of the landscape, contributing to her fictional topographies.
Uman: Darling sweetie, sweetie darling opens on the 30th of January until the 1st of April 2024 at Hauser & Wirth London
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