12 January – 30 March 2024
Darling sweetie, sweetie darling
Presented by Hauser & Wirth
Uman’s first exhibition with Hauser & Wirth will take place in London, in equal partnership with Nicola Vassell Gallery, NY. Uman’s ebullient visual vocabulary reflects her expansive cross-cultural experiences. With nods to self-portraiture and fictional topographies, her 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. This exhibition displays a selection of large-scale paintings with lavishly detailed and opulently colored worlds, replete with gesture, geometry and evocations of the sublime, hovering between abstraction and figuration.
The element of self-portraiture permeates Uman’s practice. This kind of autobiographical transfiguration is seen in the new work ‘Untitled’ (2023), an expressive painting depicting an abstracted figure with its mouth open surrounded by flowing trails of geometric patterning. Other more abstract paintings on display are still biographical, as Uman describes ‘the paintings are an extension of who I am’; they are not planned or premeditated but born from dreams, intuition and rigorous discipline. This exhibition can be understood as a collective portrait of the artist herself, at this moment in time.
In addition to prolific iconography from her own memories and dreams, Uman uses geometric forms, dots and abstract patterning that resembles mycelial networks. These collide with anthropomorphic elements to culminate in depictions that are at once botanical and intergalactic. The recent painting ‘BBC London In These Streets’ (2023) features a grid of intricately patterned abstractions interspersed with triangulations that are each embellished with dots resembling eyes or spirals. These exuberant, seemingly freestyle markings recall Arabic calligraphy, which Uman studied as a child; the resulting marks coalesce into Uman’s own highly distinctive language of symbols. Uman cites Louise Bourgeois as inspiration for the use of spirals in this selection of new paintings, such as ‘Untitled’ (2023) where floating circles in spiral formation contain smaller paintings within them, resulting in paintings that are bustling with miniature worlds.
In this exhibition, Uman privileges saturated colors, combining bright jewel tones alongside darker hues in surprising ways. The artist’s process begins with the repeated layering of colors using acrylic paint, followed by an application of oil stick or oil paint via minimal but resolute gestures using a brush or her own hands. Applying thin, decisive layers of color with purpose, this approach heightens the materiality of Uman’s works and reinforces her minimalist approach. ‘I find beauty in the canvas itself,’ she has said about the practice of leaving some of her canvases unprimed. ‘It’s a beautiful strong material that sometimes needs to participate in the painting.’