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Pio Abad, To Those Sitting in Darkness, Ashmolean Museum Oxford

Pio Abad's (Studio TW-124) solo exhibition To Those Sitting in Darkness is on show now at Ashmolean Museum until 8th September 2024.

Launched in the summer of 2023, Ashmolean NOW invites UK-based contemporary artists to create new responses to the Museum’s collections.

Abad’s work concerns colonial history and cultural loss and is deeply informed by world history, with a particular focus on the Philippines, where he was born and raised in an academic family who campaigned for justice in the 1970s and 80s during a time of conflict and corruption. Abad’s poetic, personal and political art offers a powerful critique of the way many museums collect, display and interpret the objects they hold and questions prevailing perceptions and perspectives.

Abad has created a wide-ranging body of work encompassing drawing, sculpture and text. The title is a reference to American writer Mark Twain’s satire ‘To the Person Sitting in Darkness’ (1901), which strongly criticised imperialism.

The exhibition explores, identifies and illuminates objects Abad found in the rich and varied collections of the University of Oxford; his focus on those where their histories have been marginalised, unexplained, ignored or forgotten. His intricately detailed creations are displayed together with other artists’ work alongside ‘diasporic’ objects researched and chosen by Abad from a range of Oxford institutions’ collections and archives, including the Pitt Rivers Museum, St John’s College and Blenheim Palace.

Read more here

Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PH. Free entry.

Image: courtesy the artist and Ashmolean Museum, 2024