British artist Mahtab Hussain (b. 1981) explores the significant relationships between identity, heritage and displacement. His themes develop through long-term research, articulating a visual language that challenges the prevailing concepts of multiculturalism.
He received his BA in History of Art at Goldsmith’s College, London, specialising in Fine Art Photography (2002); his MA in Museum and Gallery Management from City University, London (2006). He completed his MA in Photography at Nottingham Trent University in 2013, and since 2020 he is represented by MTArt Agency.
During the Covid-19 crises, and with cultural institutions closed to the public, Hussain participated in two public art projects in the heart of London. The artist contributed with two portraits for the exhibition ‘Everyday Heroes’ printed at over five metres high and displayed in the outdoor spaces around the Hayward Gallery and the Southbank Centre. The tribute to the professionals who continued working during the pandemic features Dr A Shahid, a dermatologist who continued to work while heavily pregnant, and Dr Shahid’s. Hussain’s work was also part of a major public art exhibition in King’s Cross Tunnel and the surrounding area alongside other leading international artists. Curated by Ekow Eshun and in partnership with the Fund for Global Human Rights, the exhibition faces the crippling effects of COVID-19 and its impact on marginalized communities, and the ways in which the consequences of inequality and racism have been exposed in 2020.
His ‘You Get Me?’ series focused on young working-class Asian men in contemporary Britain. The exhibition was curated by Mark Sealy and launched at Autograph ABP, London in 2017 before travelling on to Impressions Gallery, Bradford and Gallery Oldham. His ‘Going Back Home to Where I Came From’ series made in Kashmir and Pakistan explored ideas around homeland, loss, memory and the overview effect was exhibited at New Art Gallery Walsall. His ‘Honest With You’ series is about femininity, sisterhood, resistance and political defiance of British Muslim women.
Mahtab Hussain has been the recipient of numerous awards and commissions including; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; New Art Exchange, Nottingham; Arts Council England and Arts Humanities Research Council. He was also the winner of the Curators Choice Award, Culture Cloud at New Art Exchange and Format 13 Portfolio Review Award for most significant review.
Mahtab Hussain has published several artist books. You Get Me? published by MACK books with the support of Arts Council England received the Light Work Photobook Award for 2017. Going Back Home to Where I Came From is published by Ikon Gallery, supported by Arts Council England and The British Council, among others. The artist’s work has been featured on the prestigious BBC 4 documentary ‘What Do Artists Do All Day?’ and published in articles from The Guardian, The Economist, The Financial Times, The Independent, Vanity Fair Italia, New York Times, Dazed and Confused, Elephant Magazine to name a few.
Mahtab Hussain has made two portraits for the Everyday Heroes exhibition. Printed at over five metres high and displayed in the outdoor spaces around the Hayward Gallery and the Southbank Centre. The right one features Dr A Shahid, a dermatologist who continued to work throughout the crisis, while heavily pregnant. Dr Shahid’s infant son Ember also features in the photograph.
Our artist Mahtab Hussain is now officially part of the Government Art Collection. As part of their special project « Art X-UK », our artist Mahtab Hussain was selected by the collection curators amongst artists from all around the UK. The collection celebrates and supports the diversity of creativity across the Union and is a unique way of responding to the impact of COVID-19 on the visual arts sector. Three artworks by our artist Mahtab Hussain were selected from his series “You get me?”: “Friends, curry sauce n’ chips”, “Young boy, white boxing gloves”, and “Red T-Shirt, baseball jacket, car”.
The work of Mahtab Hussain forms part of a major new public exhibition in King’s Cross Tunnel and the surrounding area alongside other leading international artists. Curated by Ekow Eshun and in partnership with the Fund for Global Human Rights, the exhibition faces the crippling effects of COVID-19 and its impact on marginalized communities, and the ways in which the consequences of inequality and racism have been exposed this year.
Everyday Heroes: Southbank Centre celebrates key workers through a series of outdoor art and poetry commissions
The Southbank Centre has commissioned new portraits of key workers and everyday heroes from some of the UK’s leading contemporary artists. Mahtab’s portraits are visually compelling and atmospheric, honouring NHS workers, especially ethnic minority NHS workers, who may have experienced discrimination.
The large scale, 5 metre portraits on the side of the Southbank Centre are part of the outdoor exhibition, accessible to everyone, from 1 September until 7 November.
Everyday Heroes is a public art and poetry project that celebrates and highlights the invaluable contributions of all those key workers who have kept the country running during the COVID-19 crisis.
The original portraits the artists produce – whether in the form of paintings, drawings, photographs and texts – will be reproduced as large scale posters and presented in a dynamic display across the Southbank Centre from 1 September to 7 November 2020. The portraits and poems will be spread across prominent places and popular walkways throughout the 11-acre site in a kind of outdoor gallery that is accessible to all for free.
The Southbank Centre is commissioning new portraits of key workers and everyday heroes from some of the UK’s leading contemporary artists, also including Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller, and rising international stars of painting including Michael Armitage and Ryan Mosley. Alongside these artworks, newly commissioned poems will celebrate and illuminate the often unsung lives of key workers, with contributions from Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, 2019 Ted Hughes Award winning poet Raymond Antrobus, 2020 T.S. Eliot Prize winner Roger Robinson and rising stars including poet and nurse Romalyn Ante and Bristol’s City Poet Vanessa Kisuule writing poems which will be displayed around the site.
At a moment when many people may still be reluctant to go inside public buildings to look at art, outdoor exhibitions play an important part in furnishing the inspiration which visual art provides to our collective imaginations and civic life. In addition to the physical installations, the original portrait images will also be presented in a digital exhibition, accompanied by statements directly from the artists and short texts on their artistic work.
The artists selected to contribute to Everyday Heroes have been chosen because of their ability to produce deeply imaginative, vivid, atmospheric, and visually compelling portraits. It aims to highlight a range of inventive approaches to image-making that can capture salient aspects of this moment that lie outside the reach of photographic journalism.
Ralph Rugoff, Director of the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, said:
“This extraordinary period in our history demands that arts organisations find new ways of responding to the moment and bringing art to the public. Everyday Heroes aims to celebrate those people who have helped to hold society together in one way or another over the course of this year. At the same time it also highlights a range of ingenious and inspired approaches to image-making and poetry whilst bringing the unparalleled site of the Southbank Centre to life in an entirely new way. At this particular moment, perhaps more than ever, this kind of outdoor exhibition can play a crucial role in furnishing the inspiration which visual art and poetry provide to our collective imagination and civic life.”
Elaine Bedell, Chief Executive of the Southbank Centre, said:
“I’m so pleased that we’re now able to breathe some artistic life back onto our site for the first time since our Coronavirus closure. We hope this wonderfully moving outdoor exhibition will delight passersby, inspiring and reminding them of the invaluable work of key workers during this unprecedented time.”
The artist portraits are curated by Cedar Lewisohn, Site Curator, Southbank Centre and Ralph Rugoff, Director, Hayward Gallery and the poetry commissions by Southbank Centre’s Head of Literature and Spoken Word, Ted Hodgkinson.
The Quiet Town of Tipton was commissioned by Multistory and published by Dewi Lewis as part of an ongoing body of photographic work and archive that documents life in Sandwell and the Black Country. For nearly two years Mahtab Hussain worked closely with Muslim residents in Tipton, making a series of photographic portraits and places he found.
The National Gallery invited artist Mahtab Hussain to discuss the power of the sitter in Moroni’s ‘The Tailor’ and his own portraiture.
As part of the Big British Asian Summer season, the documentary “What Do Artists Do All Day?” celebrates prominent Asian artists and performers and followed Mahtab Hussain on his latest projects.
‘You Get Me?’ exhibited at Autograph ABP and curated by Mark Sealy (2017)
Exhibition of ‘The Commonality of Strangers’ series at New Art Exchange
‘Going Back Home To Where I Came From’ exhibited at New Art Gallery Walsall
Exhibition of the ‘Identity formations’ series at the mac Birmingham arts complex.