Super Symmetry: Zarah Hussain

11 April - 2 May 2024

Zarah Hussain's exhibition Super Symmetry opens at the gallery with a reception on Thursday 11 April from 6 - 8 pm. The exhibition runs from 11 April - 3 May 2024 and features new paintings from Zarah's 'Breath' series, examples of her wall sculptures and a new limited-edition print, published specially for the exhibition.


Spiritual traditions around the world have long used the breath as a tool for transformation and awakening. In this body of work Zarah Hussain explores the universal sanctity and necessity of breathing. Mining her own reflections and experiences, she integrates the personal stories of members from our community who have, in some way, experienced the physical trauma of losing their breath or its transformative healing power.


Moving through inhalations and exhalations, as well as the silent spaces in between, Hussain's work utilises the universal principles of mathematics and geometry to guide us into moments of deep contemplation and stillness.


"My training was in Islamic art. My work is in the tradition of Islamic geometric design but I'm changing it. I'm using the same spiritual ideas of contemplation, meditation, of repetition of pattern. The paintings are a symbolic interpretation of breathing, the inhale and the exhale.


"I'm drawn to the geometry in Islamic art because I like maths. Researching these works a number that came up a lot was 5.5 seconds, which is the length of the perfect breath. [Hussain created an animation for an exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum in the USA that employed this timeframe].


"I had an operation to correct my breathing… I had to learn how to breathe again. It felt very relevant at the time. In a way, making the breath paintings, sitting at home and having the time to create this body of work was a really nice thing. It really helped actually. To be able to breathe unincumbered and go about your life is quite a privilege.


"I hope that when people come to visit the exhibition, they'll get a contemplative, meditative, relaxing experience."

Zarah Hussain


Also in the exhibition are examples of her three-dimensional wall pieces, made up of multiple cast resin sections which are tessellated into different formations, and then painted in geometric patterns based on principals of mathematics and geometry.  Several of the pieces were part of her touring museum exhibition Light Upon Light that visited three institutions in the UK in 2021 and 2022.


In these works, Hussain has established a creative language that reflects both the aesthetic traditions of traditional Islamic design and modern Western society.  Alongside the original pieces we will be exhibiting some of her preparatory drawings for the works.


She is currently exhibiting as part of HARDPAPER, at Phoenix Art Space in Brighton, and from 3 April - 18 May her work will be shown at Coup de Ville 2024 in Sint Niklaas, Belgium.