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Prem Sahib's first solo exhibition in Germany on view at the Kunstverein in Hamburg
Best & Boldest #3: Prem Sahib – Balconies, exhibition view, Kunstverein in Hamburg, 1.7. – 3.9.2017. Courtesy: The artist and Southard Reid. © Fred Dott.

HAMBURG.- The Kunstverein in Hamburg is presenting the first solo exhibition in Germany, of the British artist Prem Sahib (b.1982, London, UK, lives and works in London). Sahib predominantly works with sculpture and draws on the aesthetics of public and personal spaces. Industrial materials and simplified geometrical shapes are reminiscent of Minimal Art. However in contrast to Minimalism, Sahib is not only focused on objectivity, and logic; his sculptures are also charged with personal experiences, symbolism, emotions, and subjectivity. Their clearly contoured, schematic, exterior forms stand in contrast to the very personal content. His work frequently references the human body and human touch as well their absence. For Balconies a new series of works maneuver the fragile intermediate area between the public and private sphere.

The exhibition Balconies activates various spatial registers to examine their function in constituting community and identity. Decorative objects that reference Antiquity are combined with pieces of common household furniture and lockers that are staged as ready-mades. These works form a cacophonic mixture of styles underneath a large-format ceiling work reminiscent of dilapidated, open-plan office architecture.

Some of the works are modeled on furnishings from Chariots Roman Spa in the London district of Shoreditch, which recently closed in 2016 after almost 20 years in order to make way for a luxury hotel development. Chariots was a meeting place for the local gay scene, a venue for exchange and communication, as well as for seclusion, but also for cruising and sexual desire—a complicated, chaotic, intermediate world in which the private and public collided beyond moral and normative categories. Sahib was able to salvage the original lockers, which are now presented as sculptural objects, amongst other works. Shedding one’s personal cover in the act of changing marks the transition from self to community. In the gallery space, the lockers turn into artefacts that address aspects of remembrance and the fragility of social spaces going beyond their own history, and becoming individuals in a collective themselves. The ensemble is complemented by further sculptures that through the confrontation of different materials arouse closeness, intimacy and touch, but also violence and aggression.

In its entirety, the exhibition presents a liminal place that functions as both the venue and actor of a narrative about passage and change. In a very personal and also abstract manner, it tells of closure, farewell and the insecurity that arises when established structures of identity, time or community disintegrate and enter into the process of becoming newly ordered.

Prem Sahib studied Fine Art and Material & Visual Culture at the Slade School of Art and University College, London, respectively. He received a post graduate diploma in Fine Art from the Royal Academy in London. Sahib’s works have been shown in solo exhibitions at the ICA, London, Grand Union, Birmingham, and Jhaveri Contemporary in Mumbai. He was included in group shows at The Breeder, Athens, SALTS, Basel, the Gwangju Biennial and the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin.

Curated by Tobias Peper

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