11 October-30 November 2019, Preview- 10 October, 6 - 9 pm

Haroun Hayward, Individual Work Archive Shot 01 1.jpg

indigo+madder is pleased to present Gadfly, which brings together works by Haroun Hayward and UBIK. Irreverent, thought-provoking and playful, the works convey a sense of personal freedom and joy. Through their diverse influences and unabated expressions, these works disrupt and resist restrictive, authoritarian and inadequate social structures. They bring together journeys and experiences that challenge the status quo. 


Born in 1983 in London, Haroun Hayward is inspired by the rhythms and graphics of the 90's acid house and techno music scene. First introduced to rave culture through his older sibling, graphics from cassette tape covers, rave flyers, logos and apparel from that era appear frequently in his work. These are juxtaposed with images of dancers in states of wild abandon and imagery from Greco-Roman art, creating a connection between ancient and contemporary forms of ritualistic, ecstatic enjoyment. By maintaining this historical perspective, the works seem to allude to the universality of the human condition and uphold an open-minded outlook, free of boundaries.

Hayward creates complex, textured surfaces with oil paints, acrylics, and oil pastels. His distinctive application style, which includes various methods of moulding, scraping and incising, imparts the effect of relief sculpture. Corporeal forms, depicted in motion, including those of the ancient Egyptian deity Bes, meld with sections of repetitive forms arranged to simulate the characteristic 4/4 beat of acid house music. The various forms together convey rhythm, movement and transcendence. The work attempts to share a personal moment of enjoyment to veer us almost towards the mystical. A transcendental sphere where the self is lost and a euphoric state is attained.

What Hayward ultimately hopes to convey is the sense of freedom and joy derived from the music itself at a personal level and its capacity to facilitate connections between people. Rave culture changed the way a generation of young people interrelated with each other. This was a distinctive youth culture marked by self-expression and enjoyment, and catalysed by large gatherings, which rankled authorities at its height in the 80s and 90s. The culture of raves developed amidst the repressive politics of the Thatcher era and the unregulated parties and escapist nature of the whole experience was labelled deviant by lawmakers. The authorities at the time, created new rules and regulations, as they struggled to define and restrict a phenomenon, that fundamentally resisted any classification [1].

Classification, ordering and recasting into specific organisational structures as a way to control information, create hierarchies and govern access, is also uncovered and explored by Delhi-based UBIK in his work. His versatile practice incorporates texts, images, videos and objects as tools to actively resist various modes of classification and canonisation. His practise involves subverting, uncovering and mocking the social hierarchies and power structures that constitute our social environment, especially, but not exclusively, within the art world. He uses a humorous approach to reveal and deconstruct the art-making process as well as the role of the contemporary art object. Throughout this exploration, he also questions his own role in art production, by entering into a linguistic transaction with the viewer through his text work. It is a self-reflective and critical stance that challenges the ‘truth’ of long accepted narratives in the contemporary artworld.

Through humour he disrupts the carefully organised narrative in the art-making and viewing process. By dissecting the act of creation, classification and the experiential encounter, he dissolves the wall between himself, the viewer, and the inhabited space, whether this is the gallery space or a natural landscape. Within gallery walls, a space where much of this classification happens, in order to define and render the object sacred, he enters into an act of negotiation with the viewer and their expectations. He resists classification, to destabilise the firmness that comes with naming something and challenges hierarchical lineages of chronology and style.

Underscoring these humorous and critical narratives is a desire to comment on the contemporary. By taking this stand, UBIK operates from a rather precarious position, and playfully creates a narrative where he is party to both the ‘inside joke’ as well as the outsider’s dilemma, in order to comment on the politics of exclusion in today’s landscape. These markers of identity, in terms of migration and belonging, have for a long time permeated UBIK’s work. Moving first from India to Dubai and back, he has often explored identity, citizenship and migration in terms of his artistic practice. He consequently also channels a sense of exclusion, erasure and belonging more broadly in his works, through a preoccupation with location, identity and the making of art.

The two artists perceptively illustrate journeys in search of personal freedom and explore news ways of association.

- krittika sharma

[1] For instance The Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill 1994 was put in place to mainly restrict outdoor rave parties from being organised. The Bill included a clause that stated that the police may stop events where the music “includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.” This was clearly an effort to define and target.


Haroun Hayward



futureIpshita Sen