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The Zanzibar-born UK artist Lubaina Himid is bringing her passion for opera to the fore with an exhibition of works due to open next month at the Glyndebourne festival in Lewes, East Sussex.

The show, What Does Love Sound Like? (from 19 May), will feature a series of large-scale paintings and objects inspired by the operas staged at the festival this summer including Mozart’s Don Giovanni (1787), Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites (1953) and Handel’s Semele (1743).

Himid, who won the Turner Prize in 2017, says that “like in opera, the narratives in my works are not static”. She adds in a statement: “When I began the paintings for Glyndebourne, I saw it as a chance to experience an expanded version of my everyday activity… On the canvases you can find delicate hands, straining penises, disconnected hearts, floating brains, severed necks and pursed lips.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by a new publication with texts by Himid and the art historian Griselda Pollock. The show will be open to visitors on two Family Open Days in September; ticketholders to the festival can view the first part of the show in gallery 94 (19 May-27 August) while the second part in the Old Green Room can be viewed by appointment.

Himid studied theatre design at Wimbledon School of Art in London; her early interest in the stage, and opera in particular, threaded through a 2021 exhibition of her paintings and installations at Tate Modern.

In 2021, Himid work was sought after for another high-profile commission: the UK government’s art collection. The screenprint—entitled Old Boat, New Weather—depicted a shack being carried on a sailing ship; the “sky”, pushing down on the vessel is a grid of blue and grey lines. The government commission was made against the background of Black Lives Matter, Himid said.

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