Although Huma Bhabha originally trained in printmaking and painting, she is best known for her figurative sculptures in cork, clay, Styrofoam, wire mesh, and other materials. In fact, Reconstructions is Bhabha’s first series of prints. To make these sixteen images, she “took lots of black-and-white photographs, mostly of stalled construction sites and desert landscapes near the sea” during a trip back to her native Pakistan. According to the artist, she then “made enlargements and began drawing on them with pen or brush and India ink. I started out with feet, which in the context of the photographs looked enormous—as though they belonged to giants or were close-ups of monumental sculpture. But I also made drawings that showed figures in architectural settings or reclining in barren landscapes, as well as drawings that were more abstract.” Since completing work on Reconstructions, Bhabha has gone on to develop an entire body of work based in this process of drawing over photographs.
Feet—like those that appear in many of the prints in Reconstructions—are a recurring motif in Bhabha’s work. When asked in an interview about their frequent appearance in her work, the artist replied: “Three images come immediately to mind: the advancing feet of kouroi, a simple step that signified movement and a major advance for figurative sculpture; the painting of van Gogh’s shoes, which I’ve loved and tried to emulate since I was young; and a memory of a movie from years ago, in which one of the characters was blown up, leaving only a pair of sneakers with little bits of bloody bones sticking out.”