Artist’s Rooms: Amba Sayal-Bennett

Artist’s Room: Amba Sayal-Bennett 

Drawing is at the centre of Amba Sayal-Bennett’s practice, expanding across works on paper, projections and sculptural installations. This artist’s room includes works spanning the last eight years of the artist’s practice that critically engage with the socio-political contexts of architectural heritage and modernist ideologies and aesthetics. Amba is particularly interested in the nature of abstraction, using technology in the form of language, tools, methods and materiality to stage relations and engagement between human and non-human. 

Within her work, Amba critiques the tendency of colonial practices to decontextualise and appropriate. She traces the migration of architectural forms across continents, such as to Chandigarh in Punjab, the birthplace of her maternal grandparents, and where Le Corbusier’s purpose-built city examines the failings of modernism in post-colonial contexts. She explores modernism’s rejection of ornamentalism as well as her interest in sci-fi aesthetics, a genre which has long been criticised for its colonial overtones.

Figurative representations are absent within Amba’s work, however, the presence of the body is felt through her physical interaction with the materials and technological mechanisms she uses. She explores the active role of these materials and tools, considering them not as passive elements but as entities with agency.

Amba’s practice explores the intersections between socio-political histories, materiality and technology encouraging viewers to reconsider the nature of abstraction and the complex relationships between past, present and future.

About the Artist 

Amba Sayal-Bennett (b. 1991, lives and works in London) is a British-Indian artist working across drawing, projection and sculptural installations. Her practice explores how methods of abstraction are exclusionary and performative, crafting boundaries between what is present, manifestly absent and othered. Her recent work focuses on the migration of modernist forms and their role within fascist and brutalist architecture. Using processes inherent to the diasporic experience, she uses translation as method and explores the movement of bodies, knowledge and form across different sites. 

Amba received her BFA from Oxford University and her MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art. She was awarded her PhD in Art Practice and Learning from Goldsmiths, University of London, and has published her practice-based research with Tate Papers. She is currently an Associate Lecturer at Camberwell College of Arts. Between January and March 2022, she was the Derek Hill Foundation scholar at the British School at Rome in Italy.